In a statement released to jihadist forums today, the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) claimed responsibility for the Dec. 24 suicide car bombing in Mansoura that killed at least 12 and injured more than 130.
The group said the targeted Daqahliya security directorate is one of the dens “of apostasy and tyranny.” Ansar Jerusalem also denounced the current Egyptian government for what it is doing “fighting the Islamic Shariah, shedding the blood of weak Muslims, and violating the honor of our women and sisters,” according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The communiqué, which identified the suicide bomber as Abu Maryam, reiterated its call for members of the Egyptian security forces to leave their positions. Those who are in the security services should “consider what they saw [happen] to their brothers if they want to preserve their religion and world,” the group declared. Roughly a day before the Mansoura suicide attack, the jihadist group had called on members of the security forces to repent and stop serving. In that statement, the group concluded by warning that those in the security forces who do not leave will have no one “to blame but himself.”
“[W]e are the most resolute and determined to carry out the command of Allah and His Messenger to do jihad against you and fight you until all the religion is for Allah,” the group declared.
In its latest statement, Ansar Jerusalem said it was ready to continue its fight and reiterated its warning for Egyptian Muslims to stay away from buildings associated with the security forces. The group, which has issued such warnings since at least September, in an Oct. 21 statement stated that police and military headquarters “are legitimate targets for the mujahideen.”
The Ansar Jerusalem statement also called on Egyptian Muslims to “not accept humiliation and disgrace, and do not accept anything but the Shariah of Allah as a constitution and government, and do not accept anything but jihad in the cause of Allah.” The statement further stated that Ansar Jerusalem’s fighters have taken “the path of jihad … to defend Islam and to avenge the blood of Muslims and their honor.”
The Dec. 24 attack in Mansoura was not the first time that attacks have been reported in Mansoura since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. On July 23, a bomb attack at a police station in Mansoura killed one person and wounded 19. More recently, on Oct. 28, three policemen were killed in a shooting attack on a checkpoint in the city.
Since July 3, there have been more than 260 reported attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, most of which were carried out against Egyptian security forces and assets, according to data maintained by The Long War Journal. A good number of these attacks, including the Nov. 20 car bombing that killed 11 Egyptian security personnel, have been claimed by Ansar Jerusalem.
Attacks by Sinai-based jihadists, Ansar Jerusalem specifically, have also taken place in the Egyptian mainland. On Sept. 5, the jihadist group used a suicide car bomber in an assassination attempt in Nasr City on Egypt’s interior minister, Mohammed Ibrahim. A month later, an Ansar Jerusalem suicide bomber unleashed a blast at the South Sinai Security Directorate in el Tor, which killed three security personnel and injured more than 45. On Oct. 19, the Sinai-based jihadist group targeted a military intelligence building in the city of Ismailia in another car bombing. And on Nov. 19, the group claimed responsibility for the shooting attack on Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Mabrouk, a senior national security officer, in Cairo.
The al Furqan Brigades, which are not believed to be based in the Sinai, have also claimed responsibility for a number of shootings and rocket attacks in the Egyptian mainland since Morsi’s overthrow. In contrast to Ansar Jerusalem, the group has yet to claim responsibility for any large car or suicide bombings.
Ansar Jerusalem, which was founded by Egyptians, is the dominant jihadist group operating in the Sinai Peninsula today. The group, whose fighters are often seen with the al Qaeda flag, has claimed credit for a number of attacks against Israel and Egypt over the past two years.
In September 2013, Ansar Jerusalem, which releases material through the jihadist forums of Al Fajr Media Center, al Qaeda’s exclusive media distribution outlet, declared that “it is obligatory to repulse them [the Egyptian army] and fight them until the command of Allah is fulfilled.” Recent reports in the Egyptian media have suggested that Ansar Jerusalem may have links to Muhammad Jamal and the Muhammad Jamal Network [MJN], which were added to the US government’s list of designated terrorists and the UN’s sanctions list in October 2013.
Jamal, whose fighters have been linked to the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi terror attack, is said to have established “several terrorist training camps in Egypt and Libya” with funding from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
In late November, in response to a Long War Journal query on whether the State Department believes there is a connection between the Muhammad Jamal Network (MJN) and Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, a State Department spokesman said: “We have no comment on the inter-relationships between MJN and the other Sinai groups.”