‘Global jihadists’ overrun Egyptian Army outpost on Israeli border

The Kerem Shalom crossing. Click to view larger map

More than 10 Egyptian soldiers were killed by “global jihadists” during a complex attack at night on a border crossing between Israel, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip. The terrorists seized two armored personnel carriers, and attacked the border checkpoint. Israeli soldiers and the air force engaged and killed the terrorists who had entered the country. In a separate airstrike in southern Gaza, the Israeli Air Force targeted another global jihadist cell that was plotting to attack Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

The complex attack took place at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which borders the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The “global jihadists,” a term the Israeli Defense Forces uses to describe members of Salafist groups linked to al Qaeda’s network in the region, attacked and overran “an Egyptian military post [near] Rafah, killed over ten Egyptian soldiers and took over two armored personnel carriers,” according to a statement released at the IDF website.


An Egyptian APC armored personnel carrier as it exploded in Israeli territory. Picture from the IDF website.

The terrorists then attacked the Kerem Shalom crossing. One of the armored personnel carriers “exploded at the Israel-Egypt border,” while the Israeli Air Force engaged and destroyed the other APC “as it was entering Israeli territory,” the IDF said.

A number of terrorists dismounted the APC before it was destroyed and entered Israeli territory, where they were then engaged and killed by Israeli soldiers, according to The Jerusalem Post. At least 15 Egyptian soldiers and six terrorists were killed during the fighting.

Israeli troops “continue to thoroughly search the area to ensure no terrorists infiltrated via the border or are currently in Israeli territory,” the IDF stated.

Israeli Air Force strikes a Mujahideen Shura Council cell in southern Gaza

The complex attack took place after “a joint IDF-ISA [Israeli Security Agency or Shin Bet] operation” targeted “a Global Jihad-affiliated terrorist squad in the southern Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a separate statement.

Ahmed Sai’d Isma’il, a “resident of Tufach,” was a member of the cell that was targeted. It is unclear if he was killed during the attack. The IDF said that Isma’il “was among those responsible for the execution of the terror attack adjacent to the Israel-Egypt border, in which an Israeli civilian was killed, on June 18, 2012.”

The June 18 attack was carried out by the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) in the Environs of Jerusalem, an al Qaeda-linked group in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In a recent video that claimed credit for the attack and detailed the raid, the MSC said it was “a gift to our brothers in Qaedat al Jihad and Sheikh Zawahiri” and a retaliation for the death of Osama bin Laden [see LWJ report, Mujahideen Shura Council calls attack in Israel a ‘gift’ to Zawahiri and al Qaeda ‘brothers’].

The IDF said Isma’il plotted with E’id Nadi Ucaal, a “resident of Rafah,” and several other jihadists to carry out a similar attack on Israel. The IDF said that the airstrike “thwarted an additional actual terrorist attack.”

Israel has conducted several airstrikes against “global jihadists” over the past year [see LWJ report, Israel kills leader of al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam in Gaza airstrike].

Al Qaeda-linked groups on the rise in the Sinai and in Gaza

Over the past several years, several Salafist groups professing allegiance or admiration for al Qaeda have popped up in Gaza. And since the so-called Arab Spring began last year, more al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups have formed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

In Gaza, there are six major al Qaeda-affliated jiahdist groups: the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Jerusalem, the Masada al Mujahideen, the Army of Islam, Jund Ansar Allah, Jaish al Ummah, and Jaish al Mu’minun. These groups have clashed with Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terror group that rules Gaza and is supported by Iran and Syria.

In the Egyptian Sinai, Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula and its military arm, Ansar al Jihad, the Mujahideen Shura Council, and Jund al Sharia have all emerged since the Arab Spring. The terror groups have conducted attacks against Egyptian forces and a pipeline transporting natural gas to Israel.

On Aug. 1, Jund al Sharia announced its formation, and threatened to carry out attacks against US peacekeeping forces and the Egyptian military and government if its five demands were not met. Jund al Sharia gave the US three days to withdraw from the Sinai and threatened to carry out attacks if its demands were not met [see Threat Matrix report, New jihadist group emerges in the Egyptian Sinai].

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Jim Clark says:

    Israel described them as “Global Jihadists”. Couldn’t they just be Freedom Fighters trying to inflict damage upon Israel for their treatment of Palestinians and occupation of Palestinian lands?

  • Nic says:

    At the risk of sounding biased, use the “+” button to zoom in on the area provided by Google Maps. Compare the land use on the Palestine side of the border to the land use on the Israel side of the border. Then repeat the process for a comparison of Egypt to Israel. Now, is there someone in LWJ Land that can provide an expert analysis of the land use, urban planning and agricultural practices?

  • Raj says:

    the so-called “arab spring” revolutions that swept the middle east and north africa were in reality “islamist winter” a good example would be egypt, the president morsi is a terrorist sympathizer and is a member of the muslim brotherhood

  • wallbangr says:

    @Jim Clark: I think that the distinction was made intentionally by the Israelis in linking this attack to AQ or AQ-aligned jihadist groups in the area. This is to be distinguished from the usual suspects, local Palestinian jihadist groups (i.e., Hamas, PIJ, PFLP, etc.) whose primary concern is the liberation from what they view as Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. As the name implies, these “global jihadists” are focused more on the global (or, perhaps, in mental short-hand, Pan-Arab) aims of reestablishing the caliphate and instituting sharia throughout the Arab world and the world as a whole. That is not to say that these more globally-oriented groups do not also have a similar aim of recouping territories from the Israelis, or redressing the wrongs perceived as having been committed by Israel and/or its Western backers. It’s just that the liberation of Palestine is only one of several broader aims of these groups. AQ has not heretofore had an overwhelming presence in the region, which is why this development is worrying. Could it be said that the individuals who carried out this attack were, “Freedom Fighters trying to inflict damage upon Israel for their treatment of Palestinians and occupation of Palestinian lands”? Sure. It is likely that any group who attacks Israeli interests could claim this label. But given the scale and organization of the complex attack, as well as the increased activity of AQ-aligned groups in the area, I suspect that the Israelis are correct that this was not an attack planned or carried out by a strictly local Palestinian jihadist organization.

  • C-Trp 1/1 CAV says:

    It’s ridiculous to call these guys “terrorists.” This was a military action all around.


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