Emerging groups threaten Egypt’s securityFebruary 27, 2015 in Egypt, Terrorism
On 26 February, a wave of explosions throughout Giza was claimed by a lesser-known group called the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM). PRM does not appear to have links to extremist groups operating in North Sinai, nor do they appear to have any association with Cairo-based group Ajnad Misr. The group claims to have cells in Minya and elsewhere, but it is most active in Giza.
In an online statement, PRM signaled that the Thursday bombings were intended to sabotage a government-sponsored investment conference scheduled for mid-March. President Sisi is planning to use the conference to boost faltering economy.
The bombs targeted two telephone companies: Vodafone Egypt, a 45-percent Egyptian-owned subsidiary of the British telecommunications giant and Etisalat, which is based in the United Arab Emirates. PRM said they chose their targets “in response to Vodafone International’s announcement that it will participate in the conference to sell Egypt,” and “in response to the United Arab Emirates contribution to supporting the coup.”
Their statement continues: “The Popular Resistance warns that it has resumed its activities against the criminal forces, the killers of the honorable, the violators of sanctities, and the torturers of children.” The group has warned citizens to “avoid being present near police stations, in order to allow our heroes to deal with them.”
PRM claims to include a wide spectrum of Egyptians, including Islamists and liberals. Their first public communique was released on 14 August 2014, the anniversary of the Rabaa massacre. Excerpts of the statement, read by an anonymous young male, read as follows:
“It may raise eyebrows that our first communique is released on the first anniversary of the storming of the Rabaa and Al-Nahda sit-ins. To prevent our lousy media from jumping to all sorts of conclusions, we would like to say the following: this entity which we are launching today officially under the name of The Popular Resistance Movement – Egypt, is the fruit of several months of effort, prior to any anniversary that saw the start of our resistance against the despotic military rule in Egypt.”
“We shall not remain silent regarding the murder weapons they use to slit the throats of our people nor shall we remain indifferent regarding the hunger they have imposed on all of us while the murderers lavish in their palaces and castles hiding from us behind their guards.”
“Whoever from among the thugs stays inside his home, he is safe; whoever from among the military dogs stays in his palace, he is safe; and whoever attacks, let him then blame none but himself.”
“We shall seek to do the impossible until the demands of this generation are met. We shall pay willingly with our blood until we crush the lackeys of Israel. Retribution for the martyrs is our right, and we shall eventually attain it. So long as people seek their rights, their rights will not be lost.”
On 28 January 2015, days after the anniversary of the Egyptian uprising, the group announced that its members, “engaged the black-hearted killers in their dens of shame known as police stations where they take part in all known crimes against humanity,” read a statement from the group. That same day, a bomb detonated near a checkpoint in Qaliubeya, Greater Cairo, injuring seven security personnel. Bomb experts that day also dismantled an explosive device at a bus stop in Abdel Moneim Riyadh Square in Downtown Cairo. Outside of the capital, a bomb went off in Fayoum close to a police station and a hospital, causing one minor injury, and in Alexandria, a bomb detonated as militants were going to plant it.
In the January missive, Popular Resistance Movement promised more actions in the coming “revolutionary nights and days” until the overthrow of Abel Fattah al-Sisi.
Chatter has emerged regarding another group calling themselves “Revolutionary Punishment.” Very little is known about the organization or its affiliations. On 31 January, the group reportedly declared the formation of an armed militia with 1,000 members throughout Egypt. This number has not been confirmed; however it is believed that the group does have some members across the nation.
Revolutionary Punishment has reportedly called for a new strategy of armed resistance against security forces. The group has allegedly said that peaceful protests are no longer effective against the regime, and called on supporters to combine armed operations with constant protests in order to achieve their target.
Egyptian state-owned newspapers report that ‘Revolutionary Punishment’ is believed to be affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. One report suggests that the group “had gathered all the information required to assassinate a number of police officers in Qena, Ismailia and other provinces.” This could not be verified.
The group reportedly claimed responsibility for an attack on a police patrol in Beni Suef on 25 January, wounding several officers. Reports also claim that the group clashed with police at a village ring road, killing two members of the Egyptian Special Forces.
Only one report has emerged from Egyptian state media of an Alexandria-based group called “Deterrence.” The report claims that 29 people were arrested on 9 February for creating an alleged terrorist cell affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Prosecution has accused the group of carrying out 43 acts of sabotage and arson in Alexandria. The defendants range in age between 14 and 40; the majority are in their twenties.
While there is sufficient evidence to support the existence of PRM, the other two groups remain amorphous. It is known, however, is that bombings have increasingly targeted businesses and transportation systems since December. Attacks have targeted a bank branch and gas station linked to the Emirates, several Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, and other locales. The incident so far has been similar, using homemade incendiary explosive devices or Molotov cocktails. Most have involved only small numbers of casualties, however it is unknown whether that is by design. Analysts are concerned that this shift represents a growing trend toward targeting civilian populations, something that well known terrorist organisations Ansar Beit al Maqdis and Ajnad Misr have thus far claimed to avoid.