In a statement distributed on jihadist forums today, a group calling itself Jund al Islam took credit for yesterday’s two suicide car bomb attacks in the Sinai that killed at least six people and wounded over a dozen. In the statement, obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the group charged that members of the Egyptian army have “sold their religion and conscience for a cheap price” and are taking part in the “war on Islam.”
The group further accused the Egyptian army of committing a number of “crimes” and “massacres,” many of which had been mentioned in a statement released by Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) on Sept. 10. Like Ansar Jerusalem, Jund al Islam said the army was acting on behalf of “the Jews.”
As a result of the “crimes,” Jund al Islam said its fighters needed “to respond quickly.”
“This was done by launching two lions from the martyrdom-seeking battalion of Jund al-Islam,” the statement said. According to Jund al Islam, the attacks targeted two security installations in the Sinai, “including the lair of the military intelligence in Rafah.”
Although the statement did not mention the names of the two suicide bombers, the jihadist group claimed that “details of the operation will be shown in a visual release soon.”
The communique concluded by warning: “Our hands will not tire from avenging the exhausted honors and the spilled blood until Islam spreads, Shariah rules and justice spreads in the land of Egypt.”
Today’s statement from Jund al Islam comes amid an ongoing crackdown by Egyptian security forces on Islamists militants operating in the Sinai. On Sept. 3, officials said that at least eight militants had been killed in operations in the Sinai. Four days later, Egyptian security officials claimed that 15 militants were arrested and another 30 were either killed or wounded. On Sept. 10, the Associated Press reported that Egyptian forces had killed 29 militants in the past four days.
Since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi on July 3, there have been near-daily attacks by Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula, which have left dozens dead. On Aug. 23, the Egyptian army claimed that recent operations by Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula have led to the deaths of 78 militants. Thirty-two of those killed were said to be non-Egyptians.
Along with the increase in attacks in the Sinai, there have been a plethora of statements from jihadists in response to the ongoing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari (also known as Muhammad al Murshidi), an official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), recently charged that the Egyptian government was seeking “to return Egypt to the era of oppression, tyranny and the domination of the security and intelligence agencies.”
On Aug. 17, jihadist ideologue Abu Sa’ad al ‘Amili posted a series of tweets to his Twitter account urging Egyptian Muslims to prepare for an “open war.” Likewise, Abdullah Muhammad Mahmoud of the jihadist Dawa’at al-Haq Foundation for Studies and Research warned Egyptian Muslims, in an article posted to jihadist forums on Aug. 14, that “if you don’t do jihad today, then only blame yourselves tomorrow.”
Similarly, on Aug. 15, Abu Hafs al Maqdisi, the leader of the Gaza-based Jaish al Ummah (Army of the Nation), called on Egyptians to wage “jihad” against Egyptian army commander General Abdul Fattah el Sisi. Four days later, al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, urged Egyptian Muslims to “pick up arms and defend yourself.” In addition, on Aug. 30, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant called on Egyptians to wage ‘jihad’ against army.
And on Aug. 22, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai released a statement that called on Muslims to fight the “apostate” Egyptian army. The communiqué was particularly notable as last fall the group said: “[T]he army and the police are not our targets and that our weapons are directed at the enemies and the enemies of our Ummah the Jews.” More recently, in mid-May, the jihadist group said: “[T]he target of the Salafist Jihadist current in Sinai is the Zionist enemy and its operations are directed to them, and the Egyptian soldiers are not a target for us.”
On Sept. 10, Ansar Jerusalem declared that “it is obligatory to repulse them [the Egyptian army] and fight them until the command of Allah is fulfilled.”