Yesterday, 11 Egyptian soldiers were killed and two more were wounded in a massive IED attack that targeted their armored vehicle on “the Sheikh Zuwayed-Rafah highway in North Sinai,” according to Egypt Independent.
Today, Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or ABM) claimed credit for the bombing, in a video that was released on jihadist forums and obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the slickly produced video [above, courtesy of SITE], a cameraman records the attack while hiding in the desert. The IED is detonated, and the resultant explosion sends parts of the wheeled armored video scores of feet into the air.
At the end of the video, Ansar Jerusalem displays items seized from the military unit after the blast, which include four AK-47s and ammunition, a bullet-proof vest and a helmet, and assorted identification cards and photographs from the soldiers.
Ansar Jerusalem was founded in the aftermath of the uprisings in Egypt in 2011. The US added the jihadist group to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist groups. In the designation, the State Department said that Ansar Jerusalem “shares some aspects of AQ [al Qaeda] ideology, but is not a formal AQ affiliate and generally maintains a local focus.”
But as Thomas Joscelyn observed at the time of the designation, Ansar Jerusalem has used al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and al Qaeda-associated statements in its propaganda. Additionally, groups such as Shabaab and the Al Nusrah Front hid their affiliation with al Qaeda for years before announcing their allegiance. [See LWJ report, State Department adds Ansar Jerusalem to terrorist designation lists.] And just today, al Qaeda announced the formation of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. In the announcement, al Qaeda stated that the formation of the Indian Subcontinent group was in the works for more than two years. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda opens branch in the ‘Indian Subcontinent’.]
Yesterday’s attack serves as a reminder that as the world focuses on the exploits of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, other insurgencies in the Middle East are still underway. The Egyptian military has been unable to suppress the jihadists in the Sinai after more than a year of fighting.
Attacks by jihadists against Egyptian forces in the Sinai and beyond occur on a near-daily basis. Just days ago, Ansar Jerusalem beheaded four Egyptian soldiers.