Sinai is under “complete control”

by Samuel Abbott

With the announcement yesterday that the Egyptian Military has “complete control” over the Sinai Peninsula, it shows how little the military really know what is going on over there, as attacks are still occurring there with regularity and more sophistication in 2014. The rate of attacks in the Sinai and attacks in mainland Egypt by Sinai based terror groups has decreased since the peak of  July 2013 – after President Morsi was ousted in a military coup. However the frequency of attacks now is still higher than that of a year ago, which begs the question if the Sinai is under “complete control”, what is not under control?

If anything the threat is increasing in the Sinai as the types of attacks are becoming more sophisticated, which was demonstrated when Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM) used a S.A.M. to shoot down an Egyptian helicopter which killed five people on the 25th January 2014 in Sheikh Zuweid. This was only a day after ABM let off four bombs in Cairo, killing six people. But what is more concerning is the spread of attacks to the Egyptian mainland, as well as an expansion of targets to include civilians as well as military, police and security forces. This expansion is epitomised by the suicide attack on an Egyptian tour bus on the 16th February 2014, which killed three South Korean tourists and their Egyptian driver, this attack was also claimed by ABM as part of their “economic war” against the treacherous regime.

This shows the danger is not just increasing but it is spreading from the Sinai to mainland Egypt, especially the capital of Cairo. This can be seen by the increase in attacks in Cairo from Sinai based terror groups as more attacks have taken place this year in Cairo, than the whole of last year already. Recently Ajnad Misr let of bombs at a university in Cairo which wounded eight people. Ajnad Misr have carried out a spate of attacks this month after their announcement of existence on 23rd January.

Today is Sinai Liberation Day, while Egypt is celebrating the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 the terrorist groups – who have links to al-Qaeda and the support of them – are trying to liberate the Sinai for themselves as an Islamic Emirate. The Sinai is being put to the torch by the multitude of terrorist and militant attacks there which have dominated the region since 2011. It remains to be seen if in a few years’ time these Islamic militants will be celebrating their own liberation day.

The sending often apache helicopters by the United States for use in the Sinai for use in counter terrorism operations – which was urged by Israel – will hopefully help to combat the growing insurgence in the Sinai. However their effectiveness remains to be seen.