MS Risk Blog

ISIS declares Sinai as the new destination for young fighters

Posted on in Egypt, ISIS title_rule

3  December- The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and the Sham(ISIS) are conducting a marketing strategy which recommends the Sinai as a destination for young militant recruits. The move comes after Sinai-based terrorist group Ansar Beit al Maqdis (Ansar Jerusalem), swore allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on 10 November. Soon thereafter, Ansar Beit al Maqdis began to refer to itself as “the Islamic State’s province in the Sinai”. ISIS has envisioned a caliphate stretching from Iraq to the Mediterranean. While ISIS does not have any actual control in the Sinai, the announcement is an attempt to marginalise other militants, perhaps to convince them to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi as well. ISIS supporters are calling on fighters globally to help Baghdadi’s organization build up its presence in the Sinai even further.

ISIS has made use of the Al Battar Media Establishment and the Media Front in Support of the Islamic State, two radicalised publishing establishments that deliver propaganda through social media. Each has posted a six-page article on Twitter written by a fighter known as “Abu Musab al Gharib”, who argues that the establishment of the Islamic State’s province in the Sinai will lead to greater unification of ISIS groups across the Middle East and North Africa. In November, ISIS gained total administrative control over Derna in the Eastern Province of Libya, and has set up training facilities in the mountainous regions in order to train North African fighters. By creating a unified front, Gharib ominously states, it will become easier for the jihadists to advance on Jerusalem and engage in the “liquidating” of the Jews in Egypt, Golan, Jordan, and Lebanon.

ISIS’s expansion has increased already existing tensions with other militant organisations. Al Qaeda has appeared to be at odds with the group and has competed for militants in “recruitment drives”, even opening a branch in Southeast Asia. Baghdadi and ISIS claim that their “caliphate” has usurped the authority of terrorist organisations in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. However the most organised and strong among these groups have not given over to Baghdadi. However despite the hindrance of competing terrorist organisations, reports indicate that ISIS’s campaign has been successful. Foreign fighters from the Levant, North Africa, Yemen, and elsewhere have travelled to the Sinai for training and other purposes.

Worryingly, the Sinai group appears to be increasingly active. Over the last weekend of November, Ansar Beit al Maqdis, under their new moniker, claimed to have killed an American oil worker. On Sunday, the group published an image on Twitter of a passport and two identification cards belonging to William Henderson, a 58-year-old employee of the Apache Corporation and Qarun Petroluem Co. Henderson was thought to have been killed in a carjacking incident in August.

It is uncertain whether Ansar Beit al Maqdis was actually responsible for the killing or just claiming it; the US State department is still investigating Henderson’s death and the US Embassy in Cairo has not disclosed any information. However the claim raises international concern that Sinai based radicals may begin to expand their targets beyond Egyptian military and security forces, or may even begin seeking Westerners for kidnap for ransom, or to send a visible political message.

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