On July 14, the individual or group responsible for online statements from al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai and Ansar al Sharia in Egypt released a report detailing dozens of events in the Sinai between June 29 and July 12. The report, which was posted to jihadist forums, was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The report denounced the Egyptian army for firing on protesters in the city of el Arish in North Sinai on July 5. Al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya had previously denounced the Egyptian army’s actions in a statement posted to jihadist forums on July 6. “The people of Sinai in general will not stand aside, and the rise of the people of Arish after this crime and their taking control of the district building and expelling the army is only an example of that,” the group said at the time.
In response to the events in el Arish, the new report noted that “simultaneous attacks” were launched at seven locations, including the el Arish airport and the intelligence headquarters in Rafah. The report claimed that “three military helicopters that all were on the airport’s tarmac” were damaged by mortar shells. Most of the attacks, the report said, involved “light and medium weapons and heavy machineguns and anti-armor [weapons].”
Among a number of attacks claimed in the report was one on July 6 in which four police officers were killed in el Arish and two soldiers were killed when a checkpoint on El Taweel Road was targeted by RPGs. The following day, the report noted, there was an attack of a gas pipeline. At least one Palestinian was arrested on July 13 in connection with the pipeline attack.
According to the report, on July 9 and 10, the El Ahrash camp in Rafah was targeted “with heavy weapons and mortar shells.” And on July 12, two security personnel were killed after an explosive device exploded near an armored vehicle in el Arish, the report also claimed.
Incidents in the Sinai have increased significantly since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt. Most reports have failed to provide specific identification of the attackers, with many reports simply using the terms “Islamic militants” or “unidentified gunmen.” Unfortunately, the new jihadist report did not specify which groups were behind the recent attacks on security installations and personnel in the Sinai.
On July 5, a representative of al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai announced the formation of a new front, “Ansar al Sharia in Egypt,” in the wake of Morsi’s ouster. The group is getting ready for a fight, saying it will “make preparations and acquire means of power such as weapons and training,” according to a statement obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
While some recent press reports have suggested that the Egyptian army is planning a major offensive in the Sinai, army sources are playing down the likelihood of a major operation in the near future, according to Reuters.
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