New details are emerging about the extent of violent Islamist activity in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula, which reports citing German intelligence last June had already identified as the world’s main jihadist training ground.
Pitched battles in the territory – including preemptive strikes described by Arabic language media – have expanded in recent months, as jihadist groups sought to build infrastructure faster than the Egyptian army could uproot it.
Meanwhile those groups, in particular the Salafi terror group Ansar Jerusalem, also worked to target Egyptian security installation and personnel. The group has claimed a wide range of attacks, most recently an assassination attempt on Egypt’s interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim:
The video, lasting about 30 minutes, includes surveillance footage taken beforehand at the street corner near the minister’s house where the bombing later occurred; footage of the explosion as it takes place; and statements recorded in advance by the suicide bomber who carried out the attack. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Gen. Abdel Fattah Othman, said in a television interview that it had concluded independently that the explosion was set off by the bomber in the video, a former military officer who was dismissed for his Islamist sympathies.
The Egyptian army in recent days claimed that it arrested “dozens” of Ansar activists as well as a senior member of Hamas’s military wing who was carrying weapons and ammunition.
Cairo has for months explicitly and repeatedly blamed the Palestinian faction Hamas for facilitating the transfer of personnel and weapons to jihadists in the Sinai. A German news agency reported last week that the Egyptian military had in fact arrested a senior Hamas figure, though Hamas quickly denied the report.
[Photo: aamir soheil / YouTube ]