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Terror Strategies Resume in Egypt after Calm | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A bombed Vodafone store in Cairo in February. REUTERS/Mohamed
Abd El Ghany

Dubai- Terrorism in Egypt has resumed by targeting governmental figures and renewing attacks against national forces in Sinai. After a remarkable regression in its activities in Sinai, Cairo, and other regions, a new phase of terrorism has relaunched coinciding with political and social turmoil in the country to target all achievements, stability, and expected prosperity of tourism.

On 13 October, terrorists have chosen new point in Sinai and attacked armed forces, killing 12 soldiers and wounding others.

Security Expert Khaled Okasha said that the expansion of ISIS in the region of Sinai and its target of new points should be taken into consideration and that strategic developments should be anticipated.

Sinai was not the only target of violence; a terrorist group known as “Hasm” carried out a failed attempt to assassinate the Egyptian Deputy Prosecutor-General Zakaria Abdel-Aziz in the New Cairo area on 29 September and the group has announced responsibility for the attempt.

Despite the failure of the attempt, it has revealed an odd rise and transformation in this movement’s actions since its first assassination attempt, that targeted the former Egyptian Mufti Ali Jomaa on 5 August prior to his Friday speech in The 6th of October City.

Map of terrorist groups in Egypt

The map of terrorist groups in Egypt has witnessed constant developments and changes; some groups disappear after certain operations to come back later under different names like “Hasm Group”; others disappear and never come back again like Al-Furqan Brigades. Eight to 14 terrorist groups have marked presence in Sinai, including:

1-Sinai Province (Ansar Bait al-Maqdis): in 2001, Dentist Khalid Al Masaid Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad involved in many terrorist attacks that targeted Sharm El Sheikh and Taba in 2004-2006; then, the group was transformed into Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, with clear links to al-Qaeda. In November 2014, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis has pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the establishment of the so-called Sinai Province.

2- Other extremist groups: Those which didn’t completely integrate in an organization. They adopt Al- Qaeda’s ideology while maintaining independence. These groups include “Tawhid Wal Jihad”, “Ansar al-Jihad”, and “Ajnaf Bait al-Maqdis”, which are linked to Palestinian extremist groups that fight Israel and consider the Egyptian army an enemy.

3- Group of Muhammad Jamal Network: one of the most important groups of al-Qaeda in Sinai. Jamal was trained on making bombings in one of al- Qaeda’s camps in the eighties and became the leader of “Al-Jihad al-Islami” group.

Jamal was arrested in 2012, yet his followers have continued their terrorist activities. The group was enlisted as a terrorist group by the United States on 7 October 2013.

4- Groups of foreign militants: the intervention of foreign militants has started during the rule of President Mohammad Morsi, but their number has remarkably increased after he was toppled in 2013, particularly following Zawahiri’s call for providing secure resorts for the migrant militants.

Regression …then, ascension

In the first quarter of 2016, Sinai witnessed a regression of terrorist activities compared with 2015. At the same time, the Egyptian army made remarkable security achievements after it implemented many proactive attacks and succeeded in foiling many terroristic attempts.

However, this phase seems to hold more threats as terrorist groups make all efforts to exploit the social, economic, and other crises in Egypt amid the chaos spread in the region. Moreover, terrorist links are expected to play remarkable role after the reappearance of “Hasm” movements close to Muslim Brotherhood that insists on dominating the rule in Egypt; not to mention ISIS in Sinai, which has tried to expand in new areas following its defeats in other regions like Syria and Iraq.