Palestinian Affairs

Militants in Sinai and Gaza Swear Loyalty to ISIS

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt’s most active militant organization, and Ansar al-Sharia Bayt al-Maqdis, a Salafi jihadist group in the Gaza Strip, have both sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, statements from the two groups said on Monday.

In a video broadcast on the Internet, the Gazan Ansar al-Sharia Bayt al-Maqdis promised to take revenge on all those who oppose the Islamic State, implying Hamas. Abu Khatab, the leader of the organization, said that his organization “supports ISIS morally and financially and in terms of preaching,” Al-Jazeera reported (Arabic link).

Ansar al-Sharia Bayt al-Maqdis criticized Hamas for its “moderation” and its participation in the Palestinian “democratic game,” and accused it of detention and torture of Salafi activists. Hamas’s internal security forces try to block the spread of Gaza-based Salafi jihadists.

The Egyptian Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was founded in 2011 and carries out terror attacks against Egyptian security forces. The organization has also repeatedly blown up the pipeline that supplied Egyptian natural gas to Israel and Jordan, attacked both Israeli soldiers and foreign tourists visiting Egypt, and claimed responsibility for rocket fire on Eilat.

Egyptian security forces are fighting a jihadist insurgency in the Sinai peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army toppled President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

In response to an attack last month that claimed the lives of 33 policemen, last week Egypt destroyed hundreds of homes along the Sinai border with Gaza in order to build a buffer zone between the two territories.

[Photo: youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojsuimHL-oY#t=60]