Global jihad terrorists in Sinai receive financial and logistical support from other Salafi terror cells in Afghanistan and Iraq, a senior Israeli official revealed on Wednesday.

The groups are usually not connected to Iran, which is working to establish its own terrorist infrastructure in Sinai via Hezbollah, according to the official.

A large proportion of the weaponry used in the recent spate of attacks against Israel originated in Libya, where arms depots were raided and cleared out following the revolution there last year.

Israel is particularly concerned about sophisticated shoulder-to-air missiles that can threaten Israeli aircraft flying near the border. Another concern is the possibility that sea mines the Libyan military previously deployed will find their way to Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

“There is no shortage of weapons and explosives in Sinai,” the official said.

The official said that the cross-border attack from Sinai on Sunday – during which armed Beduin from Sinai killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, stole an armored vehicle and infiltrated Israel – was motivated by the groups’ interest in establishing themselves as a new player in the region. The assessment within the Israeli intelligence community is that the attacks will continue and might increase in frequency.

The IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) cannot yet identify a group that is responsible for the attacks, although Egyptian media reported on Wednesday that the Army of Islam, a Gaza-based group affiliated with al-Qaida, was involved. According to Israel, the perpetrators are global jihad operatives, brought together by a common cause – to attack Israel and Egypt – and financial incentives for their families.

“These are attacks that are aimed at establishing the groups’ reputation and position within Sinai,” the official said, adding that the operatives were not subordinate to the Beduin sheikhs who traditionally were in charge of everything that happens in the peninsula.

The focus for Israel now is on increasing its intelligence-gathering capabilities in Sinai. The government is expected to decide in the coming weeks which intelligence agency – Military Intelligence or the Shin Bet – will be placed in charge of covering Sinai. Such a decision will draw an immediate budget increase for the chosen agency.

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