Beduins inspect their weapons in the Sinai Peninsula 370 (R).
(photo credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)
Dr. Mohammed Ghazlani, official mediator between the Sinai authorities and
extremists, said Thursday that Salafist-Jihadi groups have embraced extremist
ideology in the troubled peninsula.
Ghazlani told Egypt’s el- Watan
newspaper that a number of these groups, among them Tawhid wal-Jihad (“One God
and Holy War”) have signed up to al-Qaida-style Islamist
Wal-Jihad’s terror operations have included the Sinai
bombings of October 7, 2004 which left 34 people dead.
Ghazlani is one of
a delegation of reformed jihadists appointed by Egyptian President Mohammed
Morsi in August to mediate with radical Salafist-Jihadist leaders in
Morsi launched the initiative in the wake of Egypt’s Operation
Eagle, a military campaign launched to restore security.
In his interview
, Ghazlani claimed that although al-Qaida’s ideology is prevalent
in Sinai, there is no communication or coordination between jihadists in Egypt
and in other parts of the world.
The reformed jihadist mediator also
claimed that al-Qaida would not mount attacks on Egyptian targets or attack
foreign interests in that country.
Ghazlani, who according to el-Watan
spent years in prison under the Mubarak regime, said that al-Qaida and all
jihadist groups had a “major interest” in the stability and success of Islamic
rule, which Morsi “sought to establish and maintain” in Egypt.
Jihadists were “keen not to carry out Jihad against the Zionists in Palestine”
because that could weaken Morsi, although they believed Egypt should amend the
Camp David peace agreement, Ghazlani said.
However, according to Yoram
Schweitzer, an international terrorism export from the Institute for National
Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Sinai’s Salafist-Jihadist groups have carried out
a number of terror attacks against Israel and may also target US and foreign
interests in the future.
There are clear signs that Salafist-Jihadist
groups in Sinai have adopted al-Qaida’s ideologies Schweitzer told The Jerusalem
, noting that some of the groups’ operations and choice of targets are in
line with al-Qaida strategy.
Schweitzer said the most active of Sinai’s
Salafist- Jihadist groups is Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis (“Supporters of Jerusalem”),
which claimed responsibility for the September 21 border attack that killed an
Although most of the group’s members are Beduin, at
least two of the terrorists responsible for the September attack are from the
Nile Delta region, according to Egyptian media reports.
al-Maqdis has also issued statements saying it was responsible for firing
rockets into Eilat and for an attack on the Arish-Ashkelon Arab Gas
On Tuesday, Ansar Bayt al- Maqdis threatened large-scale
revenge on Israel after an IAF strike killed Abu al-Waleed al- Maqdissi, the
Palestinian leader of Salafist-Jihadist group Tawhid awl-Jihad, according to a
report in el-Watan.
The group published a statement on the Internet
saying “the blood of Muslim heroes is not cheap, nor is it shed in vain. The
Jews will pay.”
In addition to Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis, Schweitzer said
that the Salafist-Jihadist group Ansar al-Quds has also exhibited al-Qaida
ideology, based on its rhetoric and choice of targets.
whose name also means “Supporters of Jerusalem” claimed responsibility for the
October 8 rocket and mortar attacks on communities in southern
Although the groups are closely affiliated to al-Qaida,
Schweitzer said this does not mean that the global terrorist group has an
official presence in Sinai.
In recent years -Salafist- Jihadist groups
have surfaced in Gaza as well. According to the Shin Bet, al-Qaida-inspired
Salafist-Jihadist ideologies have also spread to Israel. Earlier this year, a
court convicted Nazareth imam Nazem Abu Salim of incitement to violence and
supporting a terror organization – after he founded a Salafist-Jihadist group
with al-Qaida ideology.
The Washington-based Middle East Media Research
Institute said this week that extremist Salafist-Jihadist groups have emerged in
several other Arab countries, including Yemen, Libya and Tunisia, in the wake of
upheaval in the Arab world.
According to MEMRI, many of the groups are
adopting the name Ansar al-Shari’a (“Supporters of Shari’a Law”) to rebrand
themselves as a single movement.