Ansar Jerusalem releases video of assassination attempt on Egypt's interior minister
Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) today released a 31-minute video detailing its Sept. 5 assassination attempt on Egypt's interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim. The Sinai-based Salafi jihadist group had taken responsibility for the failed assassination in a statement posted to jihadist forums on Sept. 8.
In the video, translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the suicide bomber in the attack is identified as Walid Badr, a former military officer. He is shown reading his will and denouncing the Egyptian army for waging war against Islam. In addition, the video features clips from al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and Abu Muhammad al 'Adnani al Shami, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
A biography displayed during the video said Badr was forced out of the Egyptian army after he criticized officers for not being religious enough. He subsequently traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight and was eventually arrested and spent about a year in jail in Iran. Upon release, he returned to Egypt before heading to Syria to fight against the regime of Bashar al Assad. Badr stayed in Syria "until Allah destined him to return to Egypt once again, to fulfill his wish that he always wanted in carrying out a martyrdom-seeking operation," the onscreen biography stated.
"No time frame was given for Badr's travels," Reuters noted.
Badr, who denounced the Muslim Brotherhood, called on Egyptian Muslims to "sacrifice in the cause of Allah...with booby-traps and explosive belts." "[W]e must kill from them just as they are killing from us," Badr stated.
An onscreen message near the end of the video advised Egyptian Muslims to stay away from security headquarters "for they are legitimate targets for us." "[L]eaders of the war against Islam," specifically Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Sedki Sobhi, and Mohammed Ibrahim, received a separate threat from Ansar Jerusalem: "[W]e brought you slaughter, so feel your necks."
The release of today's video comes five days after Ansar Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the Oct. 19 car bombing in Ismailia. The attack on the military intelligence building in Ismailia took place 12 days after Ansar Jerusalem carried out a suicide attack on the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three people and injured more than 45.
Since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi on July 3, there have been at least 196 reported attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, most of which were against Egyptian security forces and assets, according to data maintained by The Long War Journal. On Aug. 23, the Egyptian army claimed that operations by Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula had led to the deaths of 78 militants; 32 of those killed were said to be non-Egyptians. On Sept. 15, an Egyptian army spokesman claimed that over 300 Islamist militants had been arrested in the Sinai since July. He also said that Egyptian forces have raided hundreds of homes, taken control of a number of weapon caches, and seized a variety of weaponry including RPGs, mortars, and antiaircraft missiles.
Bomber reportedly tied to Muhammad Jamal al Kashef
Judicial sources confirmed that Walid Badr was the suicide bomber, al Masry al Youm reported. The sources added that Badr was aided by three Egyptians, two Palestinians, and possibly one Afghan. Following the attack, those who aided Badr returned to the Sinai, the sources said.
Additionally, according to al Masry al Youm, authorities concluded that Badr was the bomber from the interrogation of Jamal Abdu, also known as Muhammad Jamal al Kashef. The United Nations added Jamal, a longtime subordinate to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, as well as Jamal's network to its sanctions list on Oct. 18. Eleven days prior, Jamal and his network were added to the US government's list of designated terrorists.
Jamal claimed that Ansar Jerusalem is linked to al Qaeda and said he had helped train Walid Badr more than a year ago in the Sinai, the al Masry al Youm report stated.
Jamal, a former commander in Egyptian Islamic Jihad, "has developed connections" with al Qaeda affiliates, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to the State Department. Jamal also has ties to Nasir al Wuhayshi, AQAP's emir and the newly appointed general manager of al Qaeda, and Qasim al Raymi, AQAP's senior military commander.
When Jamal was arrested by Egyptian authorities in November 2012, Cairo uncovered communications between him and al Qaeda's emir, Ayman al Zawahiri. In one letter, Jamal told Zawahiri that he believed "in the necessity of establishing a jihadist entity in Egypt" and that he had taken steps to establish "groups for us inside Sinai." According to Jamal, who had petitioned Zawahiri for consent to start al Qaeda in Egypt, the Sinai is "the next frontier of conflict with the Zionists and Americans."
Jamal, whose fighters have been linked to the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi terror attack, is also said to have established "several terrorist training camps in Egypt and Libya" with funding from AQAP. In addition, "Jamal [has] established links with terrorists in Europe," according to the State Department.
Ansar Jerusalem is thought to be behind most of the recent attacks originating from the Sinai, according to Israeli intelligence. The group, which is said to recruit within Egypt and abroad, has claimed credit for a number of attacks against Israel over the past year, including an attack on Sept. 21, 2012.
The deadliest attack was the Aug. 18, 2011 assault on a bus traveling near the border with Egypt in Eilat, which resulted in the deaths of eight Israelis and at least seven terrorists. Three Egyptian security personnel were also accidentally killed in the crossfire. In addition, Ansar Jerusalem has taken credit for a number of attacks against the Arish-Ashkelon natural gas pipeline as well as a number of rocket attacks against Israel.
On Oct. 15, 2012, the group threatened to attack Israel for the targeted killing of Abu al Walid al Maqdisi, the former emir of the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem, and Ashraf al Sabah, the former emir of Ansar al Sunnah. The two men were said to be leaders of the Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem.
On Jan. 11, a video released by Ansar Jerusalem stated: "Here in Egypt, the fortress of the Ummah, the light of victory has begun to shine, and the light of dawn has appeared in the horizon. The Ummah has begun preparing for the moment to attack the occupying entity and get rid of its evil."
In March, the group issued a statement during President Obama's visit to Israel, which it called a "cancerous tumor." The jihadist group said that the visit's timing "has important implications" and accused "America and the Crusader West" of intervening in the so-called Arab Spring "to change the natural direction of these blessed revolutions, and prevent[ing] the Muslim peoples from achieving their true freedom and implementing their Islamic Shariah."
More recently, on Aug. 9, four members of Ansar Jerusalem who were preparing to fire rockets towards Israel were targeted and killed. On Aug. 10, Hussein Ibrahim Salem al Tihi, from the Tiyaaha tribe, and Yusri Muhaareb al Saraarkah, Ibrahim Khalaf al Munei'i, and Muhammad Hussein al Munei'i, all from the Sawaarkah tribe, were buried following an extensive funeral procession. Some of the slain jihadists were wrapped in al Qaeda flags, while vehicles in the procession had the black flags attached as well.
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." In the same statement, the group took credit for a number of attacks on Egyptian security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula. Similarly, on Sept. 15, the Salafi jihadist group declared: "We in Ansar Jerusalem and all the mujahideen in Sinai in Egypt as a whole stress that the blood of innocent Muslims will not go in vain." And on Sept. 28, Ansar Jerusalem released a video that included footage from some of its recent attacks on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.