The Islamic State’s branch in Egypt claimed responsibility for yesterday’s bombing at the Italian consulate in the capital of Cairo that killed one person and wounded at least nine others.
Egyptian policemen and civilians were among those wounded in the blast that occurred outside the main entrance of the consulate building, which was completely destroyed, according to the BBC. No Italians were hurt by the remotely-detonated car bomb.
The Islamic State has officially claimed the attack in a communique released online. The jihadist organization said that “a parked car bomb loaded with 450kg of explosives” detonated near the Italian consulate in Cairo. The Islamic State ended the statement by warning Muslims to avoid similar locations as they are “legitimate targets.”
“We recommend Muslims stay away from these security dens because they are legitimate targets for mujahideen strikes,” the statement concluded.
Interestingly, the communique was signed by the “Islamic State in Egypt” and not its “Sinai Province,” the terror group’s main branch in the North African country. It is unclear if the “Islamic State in Egypt” is a new branch of the Islamic State or an extension of its network in the Sinai.
The Islamic State’s Sinai Province was formerly known as Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM), which had ties to al Qaeda. On Nov. 10, 2014, an unidentified jihadist from ABM announced his group’s allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-appointed head of the Islamic State’s “caliphate.” ABM was quickly rebranded as part of the Islamic State, and has claimed numerous attacks in the months since.
On Nov. 13, 2014, al Baghdadi formally acknowledged the pledge of allegiance (bayat) from ABM, as well as several other groups, in an audio message.
Not every member of ABM defected, however. Credible reports indicate that part of ABM remained loyal to al Qaeda. And another jihadist group in Egypt, Ajnad Misr (“Soldiers of Egypt”), had already broken off from ABM. Ajnad Misr’s former leader, Hammam Attiyah, was eulogized by both al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) after his death earlier this year.
The explosion at the Italian consulate comes after the Sinai Province launched large-scale coordinated assaults in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula earlier this month. The so-called “province” of the Islamic State targeted more than 15 Egyptian military locations in the Sinai, including in El Arish and in Sheikh Zuweid. Dozens of Egyptian soldiers were killed in the assaults. [See LWJ report, Islamic State’s Sinai ‘province’ launches coordinated attacks against Egyptian forces.]
The jihadists claimed to have gained “complete control” over several locations in the Sinai in those assaults. In reality, the Islamic State controls little ground in the Sinai, but it remains a potent security threat in the Sinai and in mainland Egypt.
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