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After Suez Terror Attempt, Egypt Expands Anti-Jihadist Campaign with Apache Helicopters

Egypt has expanded an ongoing anti-terrorism campaign in the Sinai Peninsula targeting jihadist networks that have in recent months deepened and consolidated efforts to foment instability and violence in the territory and beyond:

The Egyptian army is continuing its crackdown on terror in northern Sinai. The Maan news agency reported that military forces moved towards villages in Rafah aided by army helicopters that bombed Jihadist targets.

The Egyptian army deployed helicopters to back troops that have been operating near the border between the Sinai and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The campaign comes in the wake of an assassination attempt on the interior minister of Cairo’s army-backed interim government, and after Egyptian security officials foiled a terror plot targeting the Suez Canal. Suez Canal Authority sources said a rocket-propelled grenade was used in an attack, which targeted a container ship and sent shock waves through insurance and shipping markets:

The Egyptian source said such an incident could happen again despite intense security along the canal, adding that residential areas could be used to move light weapons around without detection.

“Security officials have highlighted apparent threats to the canal and its land-based facilities over recent months,” said Alan Fraser of security firm AKE.

Keeping the Suez Canal open and stable is broadly considered to be a key U.S. geopolitical interest. Analysts have also pointedly noted that U.S. arms are proving critical to Egyptian army’s campaign to stabilize the Sinai and prevent further attacks.

[Photo: Prince Roy / Flickr]