Sinai gas pipeline attacked for first time in 2014

Islamist militants detonated explosives along a natural gas pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula today. The latest attack took place near the “a village in central Sinai called el-Riysan,” the Associated Press reported.

Thus far, no casualties have been reported. According to al Masry al Youm, the targeted pipeline supplies gas to industrial areas in the Sinai, including a cement factory linked to the Egyptian army.

The last attack on a gas pipeline in the Sinai occurred late on Dec. 31. Since July 3, there have been more than 275 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. Gas pipelines appear to have been attacked only twice during that time, on July 7 and Dec. 31. On July 23, Egyptian media outlets reported that a gas pipeline was attacked, but Egypt’s Petroleum Ministry denied the allegations.

Since February 2011, a Sinai gas pipeline that supplied Israel and Jordan with gas has been attacked more than a dozen times. In February 2012, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri lauded “the heroes who blew up the gas pipeline to Israel” in a message released to jihadist forums.

Approximately five months later, Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis), the dominant jihadist group in the Sinai, released a video in which it took responsibility for 13 of the attacks. “[I]f you [the Egyptian government] continue exporting gas to the Zionist enemy [Israel] and continue in your betrayal, then we will resume bombing the pipelines once again, but bigger this time,” an official said in the video, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the video, Ansar Jerusalem showed its fighters preparing and planting explosive devices along the gas pipeline, while audio from Zawahiri’s February speech played.

In April 2012, Egypt ended a deal that saw it provide gas to Israel, according to press reports.

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