sinai peninsula geography

Islamic State – Sinai Province

The Islamic State – Sinai Province is a Salafi militant organization operating in Egypt, most frequently in the Sinai Peninsula.

Key Statistics

2011 First Recorded Activity
2012 First Attack
2018 Profile Last Updated

Profile Contents

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Overview

Narrative of the Organization's History

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Organization

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

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Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets and Tactics

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Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

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Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

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Maps

Mapping relationships with other militant groups over time

Contact MMP

Send a message to the Mapping Militants team.

Download Full Profile as PDF

Last updated December 2018

How to Cite

Mapping Militant Organizations. “Islamic State – Sinai Province (Wilayat Sinai).” Stanford University. Last modified December 2018. https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/islamic-state-sinai-province
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Organizational Overview

Formed: 2011[1]

Disbanded: Group is active.

First Attack: July 2012: Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for blowing up a gas pipeline that exports to Israel and Jordan (no reported casualties).[2]

Last Attack: April 15, 2018: Members of Wilayat Sinai, dressed in camouflage resembling Egyptian military uniforms, attacked an Egyptian Armed Forces camp in the Qusayima region of central Sinai killing approximately 20 military personnel. Wilayat Sinai concurrently carried out attacks in Maliz and Hasna, which resulted in no fatalities or injuries (20 killed in Qusayima region attack, no casualties in Maliz and Hasna attacks).[3]

 

Executive Summary

The Islamic State – Sinai Province (commonly known as Wilayat Sinai, originally known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also known as IS-IP or IS-SP) is a Salafi jihadist group formed following the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011. Founded as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), the group’s stated goal from 2011 to 2013 was to free Jerusalem from Western influence and rid Egypt of any Israeli presence. However, after the fall of Mohammed Morsi’s government in 2013, ABM shifted its focus to seek revenge against the Egyptian police and security forces for their violent crackdown on Islamist dissidents. In November 2014, ABM pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and renamed itself the Islamic State – Sinai Province (Wilayat Sinai) in an attempt to extend the IS “caliphate” to this region. Due to the Egyptian government’s counterinsurgency crackdown on Wilayat Sinai, the organization originally relied on bombings and assassinations to avoid direct contact with the better-equipped Egyptian army. Wilayat Sinai was responsible for attempting to assassinate the Egyptian Interior Minister in 2013, as well as a number of attacks on Egyptian soldiers and police. Since its promise of fealty to IS in 2014, Wilayat Sinai has increasingly engaged in attacks on security personnel and civilian targets.

 

Group Narrative

The Islamic State – Sinai Province (Wilayat Sinai, originally Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis), is a Salafi jihadist group that formed in Egypt and the Gaza Strip in 2011.[4]  After authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in Egypt in 2011, tribal communities in Sinai, which claimed that they were oppressed by the Egyptian government, drove security forces out of the region. In this power vacuum, members of the region’s active militant population joined the militant group Al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad to merge and form Wilayat Sinai.[5] Wilayat Sinai shares a similar ideology as Al Qaeda (AQ) and declared themselves AQ’s wing in the Sinai in 2011.[6] However, despite sharing similar ideology, Wilayat Sinai and AQ were never formal affiliates.[7]

Wilayat Sinai first gained international recognition in July 2012 when it attacked an Egyptian pipeline that exported gas to Jordan and Israel.[8] Wilayat Sinai additionally perpetrated two attacks against Israel in August and September 2012. First, Wilayat Sinai members fired rockets from Sinai to Eliat, a resort in southern Israel. Later, they attacked an Israeli border patrol in response to the release of the American YouTube video titled “Innocence of Muslims.”[9] The Wilayat Sinai attack was part of a larger protest across the Islamic world against the “Innocence of Muslims” trailer for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty and corrupt ruler.[10]

After the Egyptian military removed Mohammed Morsi from power in 2013, Wilayat Sinai focused its attacks on the Egyptian police and army in retaliation for the Egyptian security forces’ suppression of Islamist groups.[11] In 2013, the group was responsible for a suicide bombing that targeted the South Sinai Security Directorate, killing three people and injuring 45.[12] Wilayat Sinai also targeted government officials, including a high-profile assassination attempt on the Egyptian Interior Minister in 2013.[13]

Wilayat Sinai continued to have an active and violent presence in the Sinai in 2014. The organization was named “Egypt’s most dangerous militant group” by the New York Times for its sophisticated attacks on military camps in eastern and western Egypt.[14] On July 19, 2014, an attack in western Egypt killed at least 21 Egyptian soldiers; on October 24, 2014, the organization killed an additional 31 soldiers in a deadly car bombing.[15] These attacks allude to a more skilled and experienced Wilayat Sinai fighting force that has been recruited since 2011 from both Egypt and other countries in the region.[16]

In October 2014, the Egyptian military began to crack down on Wilayat Sinai in counter-terror operations. To avoid direct contact with the better-equipped Egyptian army, Wilayat Sinai turned to attacks via remote targeting and booby-trapping, such as roadside bombs.[17]  In December 2014 alone, Wilayat Sinai planted 21 bombs along roads in Northern Sinai, killing four Egyptian security forces and wounding 24 others.[18]

Wilayat Sinai made international headlines in November 2014 when the organization pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in a nine-minute audio speech released on Twitter.[19]  By declaring allegiance to IS, it is believed that Wilayat Sinai will receive resources such as weapons, oil, and money, allowing them to perpetrate additional attacks against the Sinai and Gaza Strip.[20] Wilayat Sinai has also attracted new members from around the Arab world, indicated by the surname al-Mohager (”immigrant”) given to many militants native to countries outside Egypt.[21]

The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy considers the period from November 2014 to October 2016 the heyday of Wilayat Sinai in terms of frequency of attacks.[22] Since the group’s affiliation with IS, it has increasingly targeted civilians in addition to its traditional targeting of Egyptian security personnel. Between late 2014 and July 2018, IS claimed 955 attacks in the Sinai Peninsula.[23] In recent years, high-profile attacks on civilian targets have included the bombing of a Russian passenger jet in October 2015 and an attack on a Sufi mosque in November 2017. In 2017 and 2018, Wilayat Sinai carried out fewer attacks, but the number of fatalities has risen. This may indicate that the group is planning attacks more strategically and with the goal of maximizing casualties.[24]

President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi's government has responded by launching two major counter-terrorism efforts: Operation Martyr’s Right (September 2015-February 2018), which resulted in the deaths of 3,163 militants, and Operation Sinai 2018 (February 2018-present), which has killed 347 militants as of July 2018.[25]

 

[1] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>. Kirkpatrick, David. "ISIS Ally in Egypt Emerges as Key Suspect in Russian Jet Crash." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

[2] “Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>.

[3] ”Source: At least 20 military personnel killed in Province of Sinai Qusayima attack, as media reports 18 military funerals.” Mada Masr. 15 April 2018. Web. Accessed 4 November 2018. <https://madamasr.com/en/2018/04/15/news/u/source-at-least-20-military-pe....

[4] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." US Department of State. Office of the Spokesperson, n.d. Web.

[5] Hauslohner, Abigail, and Eric Cunningham. "In Egypt, Jihadist Group Bayt Al-Maqdis Claims Responsibility for Bombing." Washington Post. 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-egypt-jihadist-group-bayt-al-maqd....

[6] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." US Department of State. Office of the Spokesperson, n.d. Web.

[7] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>. Kirkpatrick, David. "Prolonged Fight Feared in Egypt After Bombings." The New York Times. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/25/world/middleeast/fatal-bomb-attacks-in....

[8] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2015.

[9] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." US Department of State. Office of the Spokesperson, n.d. Web.

[10] Kovaleski, Serge F. "From Man Who Insulted Muhammad, No Regre." The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web.

[11] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[12] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." US Department of State. Office of the Spokesperson, n.d. Web.

[13] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." US Department of State. Office of the Spokesperson, n.d. Web.

[14] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[15] "Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Claim Deadly Sinai Attack - Daily News Egypt." Daily News Egypt RSS. 15 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/11/15/ansar-beit-al-maqdis-claim-dead....

[16] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[17] "After Joining IS, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis Expands in Egypt - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East." Al-Monitor. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/egypt-ansar-maqdis-sin....

[18] "After Joining IS, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis Expands in Egypt - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East." Al-Monitor. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/egypt-ansar-maqdis-sin....

[19] "Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Claim Deadly Sinai Attack - Daily News Egypt." Daily News Egypt RSS. 15 Nov. 2014. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/11/15/ansar-beit-al-maqdis-claim-dead....

[20] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro.... Schmitt, Eric. "Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Mideast." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/world/middleeast/islamic-state-sprouti...®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0>.

[21] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[22] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[23]  ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[24] ”Egypt’s long, bloody fight against the Islamic State in Sinai is going nowhere.” The Washington Post. 15 September 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-figh....

[25] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Leadership

Wilayat Sinai has traditionally kept the identity of its leader a mystery.[1] The below names represent the best extent of analysts’ and journalists’ knowledge.

Ibrahim Mohammed Farag Abu Eita (2011 – December 2013): Also known as Abu Suhaib, Farag was the first reported leader of Wilayat Sinai. He was killed by the Egyptian military in North Sinai in 2013.[2]

Kamal Alam (Unknown – January 2014): Alam, a senior leader of Wilayat Sinai, was killed in an Egyptian counter-terror operation in January 2014.[3]

Shadi al-Meneai (Unknown – May 2014): Months after succeeding to Wilayat Sinai’s top leadership position, Meneai was shot to death by unknown perpetrators.[4] A spokesman for the Egyptian Army, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali, announced Meneai was killed by Egyptian forces in May 2014 on his official Facebook page, but this has not been independently confirmed.[5] In an official communiqué, Wilayat Sinai claimed both that Meneai was not the top leader of the organization and that he is still alive.[6]

Ahmed Salam Mabruk (2012 – present): Egyptian officials believe that Mabruk, a known militant imprisoned until 2012, has a senior leader of Wilayat Sinai. He has strong ties to Al Qaeda and was a member of al-Gama’s al-Islamiya, an active Egyptian extremist group in the 1990s.[7]

Ashraf Ali Ali Hassanein al-Gharabali (unknown – 2015): Killed in a gunfight with Egyptian security personnel at a checkpoint in Cairo, Gharabali is believed to have had a significant role in planning Wilayat Sinai's operations in mainland Egypt.[8]

Abu Duaa al-Ansari (November 2014 – 2016): Reportedly the brother of Wilayat Sinai’s first leader, Ansari was killed in a bombing raid of Wilayat Sinai headquarters in August 2016. After his death, Wilayat Sinai largely halted its attacks in mainland Egypt and concentrated on the Sinai Peninsula.[9] Ansari’s name is believed to be a nom de guerre, and his true identity remains unknown. The Egyptian government has stated that Ansari was the head of Wilayat Sinai.[10] Some analysts merely attest that he had “some form of control” within the group.[11]

Muhammad al-Isawi (2016 – present): Also known as Abu Osama al-Masri, he served as Wilayat Sinai's main media spokesman before being selected as the group’s leader following the death of Ansari in August 2016. He has been identified as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the U.S. State Department.[12] A cleric, Isawi is considered to be Wilayat Sinai's spiritual leader.[13]

Shadi al-Menaie (unknown – present): About 28 years old, Menaie is one of Wilayat Sinai's military leaders.[14]

 Abu Hajar al-Hashemi (2016 – present?): IS media has identified a man by this name as the “governor” of the caliphate’s Sinai Province. He allegedly took office as the leader of Wilayat Sinai following the death of Ansari,[15] but details of his identity and alleged leadership role in the organization have not been independently confirmed.[16]

 

[1] “Media baffled by mysterious fate of Sinai Province leader in Egypt.” Al Bawaba News. 7 August 2016. Web. 19 November 2018. <https://www.albawaba.com/news/media-baffled-mysterious-fate-sinai-provin....

[2] "Egypt Kills Senior Leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis." Worldbulletin News. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=124650>.

[3] "Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis - The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy." The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. 23 July 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://timep.org/esw/profiles/terror-groups/ansar-bayt-al-maqdis/>.

[4] Gentry, Chris. “The Sinai Insurgency, Part 2: Islamists and Militants.” International Review. 27 April 2018. Web. 18 November 2018. < https://international-review.org/the-sinai-insurgency-part-2-islamists-a....

[5] "الصفحة الرسمية للمتحدث aالعسكري للقوات المسلحة."Facebook. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <https://www.facebook.com/Egy.Army.Spox>.

[6] "Is Egypt Winning War on Terror in Sinai? - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East."Al-Monitor. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/egypt-sinai-terror-war....

[7] "Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis - The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy." The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. 23 July 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://timep.org/esw/profiles/terror-groups/ansar-bayt-al-maqdis/>.

[8] ”Egypt says top terrorist in ISIS-linked group killed in shootout.” CNN. 10 November 2015. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/09/middleeast/egypt-kills-terrorist-isis....

[9] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[10] Dearden, Lizzie. ”Abu Duaa al-Ansari: Leader of Isis' Sinai province killed in air strikes, Egyptian military says.” The Independent. 4 August 2016. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/isis-leader-killed-air-s....

[11] Gentry, Chris. “The Sinai Insurgency, Part 2: Islamists and Militants.” International Review. 27 April 2018. Web. 18 November 2018. < https://international-review.org/the-sinai-insurgency-part-2-islamists-a....

[12] ”State Department Terrorist Designations of Hashem Safieddine and Muhammad al-Isawi.” U.S. Department of State. 19 May 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/270982.htm>.

[13] ”Sinai Province: Egypt’s ISIS Affiliate.” Wilson Center. 19 May 2016. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/sinai-province-egypts-isis-affiliate>.

[14] ”Sinai Province: Egypt’s ISIS Affiliate.” Wilson Center. 19 May 2016. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/sinai-province-egypts-isis-affiliate>.

[15] Green, R. “ISIS In Sinai And Its Relations With The Local Population – Part I.” MEMRI. 26 April 2017. Web. 18 November 2018. < https://www.memri.org/reports/isis-sinai-and-its-relations-local-populat....

[16] “Egyptian branch of ISIS suspected in Friday's deadly mosque attack.” PRI. 25 Nov. 2017. Web. 18 Nov. 2018. <https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-25/egyptian-branch-isis-suspected-fr....

Name Changes

Wilayat Sinai was originally known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis or Ansar Jerusalem.[1] The group announced a name change to Wilayat Sinai, meaning “Sinai Province,” after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State via Twitter in 2014. In September 2015, the State Department listed the group as a terrorist organization under the name Islamic State - Sinai Province.[2]

 

[1] "What Is Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis? The Egyptian Militant Group: Explained."International Business Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Jan. 2015.

[2] "Egypt Attack: Profile of Sinai Province Militant Group - BBC News." BBC News. Web. 17 July 2015.}} {{"Designations of Foreign Terrorist Fighters." U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Size Estimates

  • January 2014: 700-1,000 (The Guardian)[1]
  • November 2014: 2,000 (International Business Times)[2]
  • November 2014: Hundreds to a few thousand fighters (New York Times)[3]
  • December 2014: 50 militants within the Sinai Peninsula, other militants at alternative fronts (Al Monitor)[4]
  • August 2015: Between 1,000-1,500 active members (BBC)[5]
  • May 2016: Between 500-1,000 members (Wilson Center)[6]
  • June 2018: About 1,000 members (United Nations)[7]
 

[1] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[2] "What Is Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis? The Egyptian Militant Group: Explained."International Business Times. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.ibtimes.com/what-ansar-beit-al-maqdis-egyptian-militant-group....

[3] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[4] "After Joining IS, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis Expands in Egypt - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East." Al-Monitor. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/egypt-ansar-maqdis-sin....

[5] "Sinai Province: Egypt's Most Dangerous Group - BBC News." BBC News. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

[6] ”Sinai Province: Egypt’s ISIS Affiliate.” Wilson Center. 19 May 2016. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/sinai-province-egypts-isis-affiliate>.

[7] ”Twenty-second report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted pursuant to resolution 2368 (2017) concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities.” United Nations. 27 June 2018. Web. Accessed 10 November 2018. <http://undocs.org/S/2018/705>.

Resources

It is suspected that the organization receives resources from sympathetic militant organizations outside of Egypt. On the eastern Egypt-Israel border, Wilayat Sinai reportedly utilizes smuggling tunnels into Gaza to receive weapons and critical aid; in response to the alleged threat, the Egyptian government evacuated and destroyed the homes of more than 1,100 families in this area in fall 2014.[1] To the west, Wilayat Sinai may receive funds from militant organizations in lawless eastern Libya.[2] Beginning in 2011, weapons flowed over the porous border between Libya and Egypt, furnishing Wilayat Sinai militants for attacks. This traffic slowed in 2013, but arms stockpiles built up during this period continue to supply Wilayat Sinai.[3]

Since Wilayat Sinai declared allegiance to IS in 2014, IS is believed to share resources with Wilayat Sinai. IS is well funded from the seizure of oil wells and stolen money and weapons within Iraq. While it is not certain, analyst believe that some of these funds are funneled to help Wilayat Sinai with its mission in Egypt.[4]

 

 

[1] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[2] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[3] ”Egypt Security Watch Monthly Briefing: July 2015.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy, 2015. Accessed 1 November 2018. https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ESW-July-2015.pdf

[4] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro.... Schmitt, Eric. "Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Mideast." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/world/middleeast/islamic-state-sprouti...®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0>.

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

Wilayat Sinai is primarily based in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt with cells of fighters on both sides of the Nile River.[1] The vast majority of its attacks since 2016 have occurred in this region. This is a change from Wilayat Sinai’s previous area of operations. Before the death of leader Abu Duaa al-Ansari in 2016, nearly 50 percent of Wilayat Sinai's attacks took place on the mainland.[2] Wilayat Sinai has also capitalized on the porous eastern border between Egypt and Israel to conduct attacks within the Gaza Strip.[3] Since 2018, the number of Palestinians joining the group increased. New Palestinian recruits include Sobhi al-Attar, a relative of a prominent Hamas leader killed in 2014.[4]

Beginning in 2016 and 2017, Wilayat Sinai has increasingly shifted its activity from its original home base near the Egypt-Israeli border towards more populated and urban areas in the western Sinai Peninsula, such as the city of Bir al-Abd and the regional capital of Arish.[5]

 

[1] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>. "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[2] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[3] "Ansar Jerusalem." TRAC: Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. <http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/ansar-jerusalem>. "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[4]  ”Province of Sinai claims attack on military battalion headquarters in North Sinai.” Mada Masr. 23 February 2018. Web. Accessed 4 November 2018. <https://madamasr.com/en/2018/02/23/news/u/province-of-sinai-claims-attac....

[5] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18...

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

  • Islamist
  • Sunni
  • Salafi

 

From its beginning, Wilayat Sinai espoused a similar ideology as AQ, aiming to liberate Muslims from Western oppression based on radical Islam.[1]  While also supporting a Sunni interpretation of Shariah law, Wilayat Sinai has never been an official affiliate of AQ. An original goal of the group was to drive the Israeli government from Jerusalem by perpetrating attacks primarily in the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.[2] After the 2013 coup d’état that removed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi from power, Wilayat Sinai changed the focus of its attacks to Egyptian security and police forces as revenge for the oppression of Islamist followers.[3] It is also believed that Wilayat Sinai militants aim to oust Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi's government from power.[4]

In the wake of Wilayat Sinai 's pledge of fealty to IS in 2014, the group is believed to be attempting to establish a province of the IS “caliphate” in the Sinai Peninsula.[5] As IS loses its grip on its territorial holdings in Iraq and Syria, the group’s affiliates in other parts of the world, including the Sinai Peninsula, have grown more active.[6] In recent years, Wilayat Sinai has increasingly prioritized the extermination of Coptic Christians and Muslims who do not adhere to IS interpretations of Sunni Islam, especially Sufis, from the Sinai Peninsula. Wilayat Sinai has carried out targeted killings of religious leaders opposed to its ideology (see Targets & Tactics section below).

 

[1] "Ansar Jerusalem." TRAC: Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. <http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/ansar-jerusalem>.

[2] "Ansar Jerusalem." TRAC: Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. <http://www.trackingterrorism.org/group/ansar-jerusalem>.

[3] "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. Web. 25 Jan. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr...

[4] ”Egypt’s long, bloody fight against the Islamic State in Sinai is going nowhere.” The Washington Post. 15 September 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-figh....

[5]"Sinai Province: Egypt's Most Dangerous Group - BBC News." BBC News. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

[6] ”Egypt’s long, bloody fight against the Islamic State in Sinai is going nowhere.” The Washington Post. 15 September 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-figh....

Political Activities

While Wilayat Sinai’s primary targets have been police and soldiers within Egypt, they also engage in political activity with assassination attempts on Egyptian politicians. The most high-profile attempt occurred in September 2013 when Wilayat Sinai failed to assassinate Egyptian Interior Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim.[1]  While the attempt did not kill Ibrahim, the bomb deployed did kill a police member and 20 civilians. In September 2013, the organization attempted to assassinate the Egyptian Police Minister.[2] One month later they succeeded in assassinating Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Mabrouk, a senior counterterrorism official in Cairo.[3] In December 2013, the organization bombed the Police Headquarters in northern Egypt, killing 19 policemen.[4] In 2014, Wilayat Sinai continued to leverage political assassinations against members of the Egyptian government. In January 2014, Wilayat Sinai attacked the Cairo Security Directorate with a car bomb, killing four people, including three policemen.[5] Four days after this bombing, two Wilayat Sinai members on motorcycles assassinated General Mohmmad Said, an aide to the Egyptian Interior Minister.[6]

Wilayat Sinai’s focus widened beyond political assassinations to include more frequent attacks on security personnel and civilians following its affiliation with IS in 2014, but the group has not ceased targeting high-ranking Egyptian government officials. In December 2017, Wilayat Sinai militants attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to kill the Egyptian interior and defense ministers during their visit to a military airport near Arish in the Sinai Peninsula.[7]

 

 

[1] Alsharif, Asma, and Maggie Fick. "Bombing Wave Hits Egypt amid Fear of More Violence." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/24/us-egypt-blast-idUSBREA0N09320....

[2] Kingsley, Partick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[3] "Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis: A New Al Qaeda Franchise in Egypt?" Stratfor. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/ansar-beit-al-maqdis-new-al-qaeda-franch....

[4] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Police HQ Explosion: Spokesman Blames Muslim Brotherhood." The Guardian. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/24/egyptian-police-headquarters-explosion.

[5] Alsharif, Asma, and Maggie Fick. "Bombing Wave Hits Egypt amid Fear of More Violence." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/24/us-egypt-blast-idUSBREA0N09320....

[6] "Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis: A New Al Qaeda Franchise in Egypt?" Stratfor. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/ansar-beit-al-maqdis-new-al-qaeda-franch....

[7] ”Islamic State claims air base attack in Egypt's North Sinai.” Reuters. 20 December 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security-claim/islamic-state-cl....

Targets and Tactics

With the intense counterinsurgency crackdown by the Egyptian government, Wilayat Sinai was originally outmanned and outgunned by the Egyptian Army.[1]  As a result, the organization at first relied primarily on remote targeting and booby-trapping to avoid direct confrontation with the Egyptian army. Since 2015, Wilayat Sinai has conducted larger-scale attacks resulting in higher numbers of casualties and greater media coverage, such as its downing of a Russian passenger jet in October of that year. Wilayat Sinai employs tactics such as such as car bombs, suicide bombing, and assassinations, as opposed to armed assaults.[2] Beginning in 2016, Wilayat Sinai has increasingly used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in North Sinai that detonate from pressure plates and wire triggers, which circumvent the Egyptian Armed Forces’ practice of jamming telecommunications.[3]

According to the Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy, Wilayat Sinai fights a “war of attrition” with the Egyptian Armed Forces, killing 13 security personnel each month, on average, since July 2015.[4] The sophistication of Wilayat Sinai’s attacks in late 2014 drove Egyptian leaders to fear that the group had informants within the Egyptian military. Between 2013 and 2017, Wilayat Sinai is estimated to have killed roughly 1,000 Egyptian security personnel.[5]

Wilayat Sinai’s main targets lie within Israel and Egypt. Originally, Wilayat Sinai targeted Israelis and Israeli interests, stating in an official video that there is “no way Jerusalem will be free without the cleansing of Egypt from the agents of the Jews.”[6] Wilayat Sinai also consistently targets a gas pipeline that runs between Egypt, Israel, and Jordan; this pipeline has been the object of over ten attacks since 2012.[7] However, after the removal of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi from power, Wilayat Sinai shifted its focus to attacks on the Egyptian army and police force.[8] The organization has also targeted tourists and politicians and has killed civilians in indiscriminate bombings within Egypt.[9]

Since its affiliation with IS in 2014, Wilayat Sinai has targeted civilians more frequently. Between January 2016 and July 2017, Wilayat Sinai killed as many civilians as it did in the previous three years (roughly 200).[10] Most often, Wilayat Sinai militants choose to attack Christians and Muslims who reject its interpretation of Sunni Islam, including religious leaders. In 2016, Wilayat Sinai staged public killings of Rafael Moussa, a Christian priest, and two prominent Sufis, Abu Hiraz and his student, Qutayfan Burak Eid Mansour.[11] The targeting of Coptic Christians, which number only 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 94 million, seems to be intended to foster greater division in the country and to erode support for the Sissi regime, which has not adequately protected minorities.[12]

In August 2015, Wilayat Sinai threatened to kill captured Croatian citizen Tomoslav Salopek if all female Muslim prisoners were not released from Egyptian prisons. This threat was timed to coincide with the inauguration of Sissi’s Suez Canal expansion project. Wilayat Sinai later disseminated on social media photos of Salopek decapitated.[13]

Given Wilayat Sinai's goal to extend the IS “caliphate” to the Sinai Peninsula, the group also utilizes social media to exaggerate the extent of its territorial control and the strength of its governance. As recently as March 2018, Wilayat Sinai has posted online photos of security checkpoints controlled by its militants.[14]

 

[1] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[2] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>. "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>.

[3] ”Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 - Egypt.” United States Department of State. 19 July 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <http://www.refworld.org/docid/5981e442a.html>.

[4] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[5] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[6] "IS-linked Group Claims Responsibility for Sinai Pipeline Explosion." Middle East Eye. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ally-claims-responsibility-sinai-attac.... "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>.

[7] Saleh, Yasmine. "Sinai Islamists Claim Responsibility for Attack on Egypt Minister." Reuters. 8 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/08/us-egypt-attack-interior-idUSB....

[8] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 28014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>.

[9] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>.

[10] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[11] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[12] ”Egypt’s long, bloody fight against the Islamic State in Sinai is going nowhere.” The Washington Post. 15 September 2017. Web. Accessed 5 November 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypts-long-bloody-figh....

[13] “Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Web. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[14] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

cardinal red photo

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

April 15, 2018: Members of Wilayat Sinai, dressed in camouflage resembling Egyptian military uniforms, attacked an Egyptian Armed Forces camp in the Qusayima region of central Sinai and killed approximately 20 military personnel. Wilayat Sinai concurrently carried out attacks in Maliz and Hasna which resulted in no fatalities or injuries (20 killed).[1]

November 24, 2017: In the largest-scale terrorist attack of modern Egyptian history, militants bombed the al-Rawda mosque in Bir-al-Abd, a center of Sufi worship in the region, and shot worshippers and first responders.[2] Wilayat Sinai did not formally claim responsibility, but witnesses report that the perpetrators carried the flag of IS (311 killed, 128 injured)[3]

July 7, 2017: Wilayat Sinai attacked a security checkpoint in the village of el-Barth with a suicide car bomb and gunfire. A high-ranking Egyptian special forces officer, Col. Ahmed el-Mansi, was among the dead (23 killed).[4]

March 19, 2016: A Wilayat Sinai militant carried out a suicide attack at a police checkpoint in Arish, later claimed by Wilayat Sinai to be in retaliation for what it considered to be inappropriate treatment of Muslim women at such checkpoints (13 killed).[5]

October 31, 2015: Wilayat Sinai claimed that it downed a Russian charter jet in Egypt in retaliation for Russian airstrikes in Syria. This attack was not confirmed, but the Russian government states that a bomb caused the attack and that an Islamic State affiliate was responsible. U.S. and U.K. intelligence services have confirmed that a bomb on board the aircraft was to blame. Shortly after the attack, Wilayat Sinai posted photos on social media ostensibly of its militants smuggling a bomb onto the aircraft (224 killed).[6]

July 1, 2015: Using a well-stocked arsenal of rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles, mortar bombs, and IEDs, Wilayat Sinai conducted a coordinated series of attacks on a police officers' club in Arish and various locations around the city of Sheikh Zuweid, including the police station and approximately 15 security checkpoints. Wilayat Sinai took control of Sheikh Zuweid for several hours (50-100 casualties).[7]

January 29, 2015: Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for an attack on army barracks, an army-owned hotel, and police headquarters in Arish with coordinated car and mortar bombs (32 killed).[8]

August 28, 2014: Wilayat Sinai released a video depicting the beheading of four Egyptian citizens accused of collaboration with Israel (4 killed).[9]

February 2014: Wilayat Sinai bombed a tour bus in the Sinai Peninsula, killing the driver and several tourists (4 dead, unknown wounded).[10]

September 2013: A Wilayat Sinai suicide bomber targeted an armored convoy in an attempt to assassinate Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim, who survived (2 dead, 20+ wounded).[11]

September 2012: Wilayat Sinai attacked an Israeli border patrol, claiming that it was a response to a U.S.-produced film that insulted the Prophet Muhammad (1 killed, 1 wounded).[12]

July 2012: Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on a gas pipeline between Jordan, Egypt, and Israel (no casualties).[13]

 

[1] ”Source: At least 20 military personnel killed in Province of Sinai Qusayima attack, as media reports 18 military funerals.” Mada Masr. 15 April 2018. Web. Accessed 4 November 2018. <https://madamasr.com/en/2018/04/15/news/u/source-at-least-20-military-pe....

[2] Farouk Mahfouz, Heba and Kareem Fahim. ”Militants kill 235 at Sinai mosque in deadliest assault on civilians in Egypt.” The Washington Post, 24 November 2017. Accessed 2 November 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/attack-on-mosque-in-egy...

[3] Fahmy, Omar and Patrick Markey. ”Gunmen in Egypt Mosque Attack carried Islamic State Flag, prosecutor says.” Reuters, 24 November 2017. Accessed 2 November 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security/suspected-militants-ta... “Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18...

[4] ”23 Killed in Car Bomb Attack at Military Checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai.” Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2017. Accessed 1 November 2018. http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-car-bomb-sinai-20170707-story.html

[5] “Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[6] “Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18... "Russia Plane Crash: 'Terror Act' Downed A321 over Egypt's Sinai - BBC News." BBC News. Web. 28 Feb. 2016. Kirkpatrick, David. "ISIS Ally in Egypt Emerges as Key Suspect in Russian Jet Crash." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

[7] “Egypt Security Watch Monthly Briefing: July 2015.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy, 2015. Accessed 1 November 2018. https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ESW-July-2015.pdf

[8] Kingsley, Patrick and Manu Abdo. “At least 32 killed in Egypt as militants attack army and police targets in Sinai.” The Guardian. 30 January 2015. Accessed 31 October 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/29/egypt-army-police-sinai-el...

[9] "Video Shows Beheading of Four Egyptians in Sinai." Al Arabiya News. Al Arabiya News. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/08/28/Sinai-milita....

[10] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>.

[11] Saleh, Yasmine. "Sinai Islamists Claim Responsibility for Attack on Egypt Minister." Reuters. 8 Sept. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/08/us-egypt-attack-interior-idUSB....

[12] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>."Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>.

[13] “Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>. }} {{Hauslohner, Abigail, and Eric Cunningham. "In Egypt, Jihadist Group Bayt Al-Maqdis Claims Responsibility for Bombing." Washington Post. 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-egypt-jihadist-group-bayt-al-maqd....

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors, and External Influences

    Designated/Listed
  • Designated/Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/Listed

  • U.S. Department of State Terrorist Organizations List: April 9, 2014[1]
  • Cairo Court of Urgent Matters (Egypt): April 14, 2014[2]
 

[1] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>.

[2] "Egyptian Court Says Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis a Terrorist Organization | Egypt Independent." Egypt Independent. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/egyptian-court-says-ansar-bayt-al-m....

Community Relations

It is unclear how much the community in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip support Wilayat Sinai.[1] In a bid to win the support of locals, Wilayat Sinai has circulated online photos of members preaching and giving gifts to the community.[2] An group purportedly of local Sinai residents on the social media platform Telegram, known as Minbar Sinaa (the “Sinai Pulpit”), regularly posts anti-IS content. Wilayat Sinai claims that this is a front for AQ supporters in Gaza conducting information warfare against IS.[3]

 

[1] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[2] “Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Web. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[3] Green, R. “Sinai – A New Arena For The Ongoing ISIS-Al-Qaeda Rivalry.” MEMRI. 4 December 2017. Web. 18 November 2018. <https://www.memri.org/reports/sinai-%E2%80%93-new-arena-ongoing-isis-al-....

Relationships with Other Groups

Analysts have debated the nature of Wilayat Sinai’s relationship with several groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda (AQ), and the Islamic State (IS). Some claim that Wilayat Sinai is the militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.[1] Other analysts dispute this claim, arguing that Wilayat Sinai instead is a militant alterative to the Muslim Brotherhood that seeks to draw disenfranchised Brotherhood members away from the group.[2] In their declaration of allegiance to IS in November 2014, Wilayat Sinai condemned the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts at democracy in Egypt in a statement: “shameful peace will do you no good, nor will blasphemous democracy, and you have seen how it has claimed its upholders and their masters.”[3]

In November 2014, Wilayat Sinai declared allegiance to IS on its official Twitter page. Before its official pledge of fealty, the group received assistance from IS over the internet, including training in bomb-making, shooting down jets, securing local support, and even providing social services, according to a former Egyptian member of IS.[4] The formal relationship between the groups is still unclear, but it is believed that IS provides Wilayat Sinai with weapons, money, and supplies.[5] Wilayat Sinai is thought to work closely with IS. Its activities, most commonly major attacks, have been featured in IS media content, such as its online magazine Al Naba.[6]

The IS branch in mainland Egypt emerged in early 2015 and established itself as separate from Wilayat Sinai. The state of the relationship between the two IS affiliates, if any, is unclear.[7]

In addition, there is speculation about the relationship between Wilayat Sinai and AQ. While the two groups originally shared a similar ideology, they were never formal affiliates.[8] Until Ayman Zawahiri, AQ’s leader mentioned “our people in the Sinai” in January 2014, there was no evidence that AQ recognized Wilayat Sinai.[9] Wilayat Sinai’s declaration of allegiance to IS could indicate a split between AQ and Wilayat Sinai. As of 2014, some Wilayat Sinai cells in the Nile Valley remained loyal to AQ, which could possibly divide the group into two factions: one that remains loyal to AQ and one that is newly loyal to IS.[10] Beginning in 2017, militants from Jund al-Islam, an offshoot of Ansai Beit al-Maqdis opposed to IS but loyal to AQ, have clashed repeatedly with Wilayat Sinai.[11] A rivalry between AQ- and IS-affiliated groups in the Sinai appears to be forming.[12]

In the past, it was believed that Wilayat Sinai may coordinate with Palestinian groups in Gaza.[13] In September 2013, Egyptian Major General Ahmad Abd al-Halim stated that Wilayat Sinai is part of a larger organization working in the same sphere as Hamas.[14] In addition, Wilayat Sinai’s alleged use of smuggling tunnels along the eastern Egypt-Israel border was cited as a link with Hamas.[15] Despite past cooperation (especially in arms smuggling), Wilayat Sinai declared war on Hamas in early 2018. Its grievances against Hamas include that group’s participation in elections (seen as contravening God’s law), efforts to improve relations with Egypt, failure to prevent the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem, and ties to Iran.[16]

 

[1] "Profile: Egypt's Militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Group." BBC News. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504>.

[2] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[3] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[4] Kingsley, Patrick. ”Attack on Egyptian military checkpoint kills dozens.” 24 October 2014. Web. Accessed 4 November 2018. <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/attack-egyptian-military-c....

[5] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro....

[6] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[7] ”Egypt Security Watch: Five Years of Egypt’s War on Terror.” Tahrir Institute on Middle East Policy. 27 July 2018. Accessed 31 October 2018. <https://timep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/TIMEP-ESW-5yrReport-7.27.18....

[8] "Terrorist Designation of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis." U.S. Department of State. 9 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224566.htm>. Kirkpatrick, David. "Prolonged Fight Feared in Egypt After Bombings." The New York Times. 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/25/world/middleeast/fatal-bomb-attacks-in....

[9] Kingsley, Patrick. "Egypt Faces New Threat in Al-Qaida-linked Group Ansar Beyt Al-Maqdis." The Guardian. 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/egypt-alqaida-terrorist-thr....

[10] "Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISIS." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/middleeast/egyptian-militant-gro...

[11] Salem, Ahmed. “The Re-Emergence of Jund al-Islam: A New Chapter in the Conflict Between al-Qaeda and ISIS.” Atlantic Council. 29 November 2017. Web. 18 November 2018. <http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-re-emergence-of-jund....

[12] Green, R. “Sinai – A New Arena For The Ongoing ISIS-Al-Qaeda Rivalry.” MEMRI. 4 December 2017. Web. 18 November 2018. <https://www.memri.org/reports/sinai-%E2%80%93-new-arena-ongoing-isis-al-....

[13] Hauslohner, Abigail, and Eric Cunningham. "In Egypt, Jihadist Group Bayt Al-Maqdis Claims Responsibility for Bombing." Washington Post. 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-egypt-jihadist-group-bayt-al-maqd....

[14] "The Muslim Brotherhood and Terrorist Organizations." Gatestone Institute. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4297/muslim-brotherhood-ansar-bayt-al-....

[15] "The Muslim Brotherhood and Terrorist Organizations." Gatestone Institute. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4297/muslim-brotherhood-ansar-bayt-al-....

[16] Abuhewaila, Iyad and Isabel Kershner. ”ISIS Declares War on Hamas, and Gaza Families Disown Sons in Sinai Image.” 10 January 2018. Web. Accessed 7 November 2018. <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/10/world/middleeast/isis-hamas-sinai.html>.

State Sponsors and External Influences

There are no publicly available external influences for this group.

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that "map" relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.