The Islamic State’s branch in Egypt has claimed responsibility for a bombing near two government buildings in Cairo earlier today. Initial casualty reports say that nearly 30 people were wounded when the bomb struck near an Egyptian courthouse and national security building.
The jihadists say the attack is revenge for the executions of several men in the so-called “Arab Sharkas cell” case. Egyptian authorities executed six alleged members of the terror cell in May. They were accused of killing several Egyptian soldiers in 2014.
As the SITE Intelligence Group points out, a leader in the Islamic State’s so-called Sinai province threatened revenge just days after the executions. “You have killed our brothers and vexed our hearts, but we know from the Book of our Lord how to heal our chests,” an Islamic State official known as Abu Usama al Masri said in a May 20 audio message, according to SITE. “By Allah, we will surely take revenge for our brothers and their like from the group of people who issued the judgment, the group of people who executed it, and whoever was with the tyrant as a partner and helper.”
And now the group appears to have followed through with its threat, saying that “soldiers of the caliphate” parked a car bomb near the buildings to avenge the “Arab Sharkas cell” members and other supposed “martyrs.” The statement claiming responsibility also accuses Egyptian authorities of being in league with “the Jews.”
The Islamic State’s Sinai province grew out of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM), a jihadist group that had links to al Qaeda. On November 10, 2014, an unidentified jihadist from ABM announced his group’s allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-appointed head of the “caliphate.” ABM was quickly rebranded as part of the Islamic State, and has claimed numerous attacks in the months since.
On November 13, 2014, Baghdadi formally acknowledged the pledge of allegiance (bayat) from ABM, as well as several other groups, in an audio message. He announced “the expansion of the Islamic State to new lands, to the lands of al Haramain [meaning Saudi Arabia] and [to] Yemen, and to Egypt, Libya and Algeria.”
Today’s claim of responsibility by the group (seen above) is formatted in the same fashion as the statements issued by other Islamic State “provinces.” Each arm of the “caliphate” uses the same logo, as well as similar colors and text in their online messaging.
The Sinai “province” is one of the Islamic State’s most lethal organizations outside of Iraq and Syria. In early July, the jihadists launched a coordinated assault, involving dozens of fighters, against approximately 15 Egyptian security outposts, offices and other locations in the Sinai. A few days later, Baghdadi’s followers in the Sinai fired rockets into Israel, but failed to cause any significant damage.
The organization claimed responsibility for a bombing at the Italian consulate in Cairo on July 11. Several days later, on July 16, the Islamic State’s arm launched a rocket at an Egyptian ship, setting it ablaze off the coast of the Sinai in the Mediterranean Sea. Smaller scale attacks, such as the beheading of a Croatian hostage earlier this month, are part of the group’s agenda as well.