In a press conference on Nov. 23, Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim accused the Muslim Brotherhood of supporting actors who are attempting to bring chaos and instability to Egypt. “The Muslim Brotherhood, in cooperation and with finances from the international branch of the group, has mobilized a number of terrorist extremist elements … and spurred them to carry out villainous terrorist act[s]” against Egyptians, Ibrahim charged.
While Ibrahim’s remarks “were the first detailed examples offered by a senior Egyptian official to back claims that the Brotherhood … is responsible for attacks against security, government institutions and the country’s Coptic minority,” he failed to “provide proof to back up his claims,” the Associated Press reported.
Ibrahim said security forces arrested five individuals from al-Qaeda linked groups who were present at the pro-Morsi vigils in Cairo before they were dispersed on August 14. The Brotherhood denies any links to violence.
Ibrahim said security forces found documents, seized weapons, and foiled various attack attempts against public figures, police and army personnel. It also blamed those groups for attacks against the police and army since June 30.
According to AFP, Ibrahim claimed that some of those detained since the ouster of Mohammed had been “pardoned of offences during Morsi’s year-long rule, and that others were linked” to groups such as Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) and Ansar al Sharia in Libya.
In that regard, the Atlantic recently reported, based on comments by a regional intelligence official, that “hundreds of Sinai-based militants are traveling to Libya virtually undetected for training and cooperation with members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” And in July, AQIM official Abu Abdul Ilah Ahmed al Jijeli said Morsi’s overthrow should teach Egyptian Muslims “that the price for applying principles on the ground is a mountain of body parts and seas of blood, because evil must be killed and not shown mercy, and righteousness must be achieved by cutting the head of those who corrupt and not reason with them,” according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Ibrahim’s press conference came three days after a car bombing in North Sinai killed 11 Egyptian security personnel. The attack, one of the deadliest since Morsi was turned out of office, has not yet been claimed.
Since Morsi’s ouster on July 3, there have been at least 253 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. Since July, the number of attacks has declined each month. November, which has already seen 29 attacks, is currently on pace to surpass October’s total, however.
Attacks by Sinai-based jihadists have not been limited to North Sinai. Indeed, Ansar Jerusalem, the dominant Sinai-based jihadist group, has also conducted a few attacks outside of its normal base of operations in North Sinai in recent months. On Sept. 5, the jihadist group carried out 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. Then, on Oct. 19, the Sinai-based jihadist group targeted a military intelligence building in the city of Ismailia. More recently, Ansar Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the Nov. 17 shooting attack on Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Mabrouk, a senior national security officer, in Cairo.
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