Islamic State gunmen shot and killed at least one Egyptian policeman near the Saint Catherine’s Monastery in the southern Sinai late yesterday. Several others were reportedly wounded. The group’s Sinai “province” is waging a low-grade insurgency against the Egyptian government and claims to have executed scores of attacks this year.
The US Treasury Department has designated 5 members of al Qaeda’s international “facilitation and fundraising” network, as well as one of the Islamic State’s “critical facilitators” in North Africa. One of the newly designated jihadists, known as Abu Sulayman al Muhajir, was as an extremist preacher in Australia before relocating to Syria and joining Al Nusrah Front.
The Islamic State’s Sinai “province” claimed responsibility for a bombing at a hotel in the Sinai earlier today. The group continues to run a prolific insurgency and has proven it is capable of committing mass casualty terrorist attacks against civilians as well.
Russian officials say an improvised explosive device with a “capacity of up to 1 kg [2.2. pounds] of TNT” brought down an airliner in the Sinai on Oct. 31. Between the apparent Sinai jet bombing and the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, the Islamic State has killed more than 350 civilians in high-profile terrorist operations since the end of October.
Egyptian officials say that Ashraf Ali Hassanein al Gharabli, a commander in the Islamic State’s so-called Sinai ‘province,’ was killed during a shootout in Cairo. He once belonged to Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, which split into separate factions. Whereas Al Gharabli joined the Islamic State, some of his comrades remained loyal to al Qaeda.
The Islamic State’s Aleppo “province” has released a video congratulating its brothers in the Sinai “province” for downing a Russian airliner on October 31. The video is at least the fourth time that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the crash. The group has not provided evidence proving its culpability thus far, but Western officials say it is increasingly likely.
Russian airstrikes targeted the Islamic State throughout Syria this past week. The self-declared “caliphate” released dozens of propaganda photos claiming that the Russians damaged bridges and buildings in Raqqa, and killed civilians in a marketplace in Al Bukamal. Civilian casualties have been confirmed by other sources. Meanwhile, Western officials say it is increasingly likely that the Islamic State’s co-called Sinai “province” downed a Russian airliner in the Sinai on October 31.
The Islamic State’s so-called Sinai “province” has issued at least three official claims of responsibility in the downing of a Russian airliner. The group has not explained how it allegedly brought down the jet, however. Egyptian officials dismiss the claims as “propaganda.” America’s top intelligence official has said a terrorist attack is “unlikely,” but possible.