Ansar Bait al-Maqdis

Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya
January 5, 2019
Indian Mujahideen
June 23, 2019

Ansar Bait al-Maqdis “أَنْصَارُ بَيْتِ الْمَقْدِس Supporters of the Holy House, Al Quds”), or Ansar Al-Quds (“Supporters of Jerusalem”), was the name of a jihadist extremist militant group based in Egypt.

From 2011 to 2013, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis operated in the Sinai Peninsula, focused its efforts on Egypt and the gas pipeline to Jordan, with a handful attacks directed towards Israel. In mid-2013, it began a campaign of attacks on Egyptian security forces, and in November 2014 the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Most of the group became a branch of ISIL, renaming itself ISIL-Sinai Province.

Overview

Ansar Bait al-Maqdis emerged from a number of indigenous Salafi jihadist groups in the Sinai Peninsula. Some of these groups had ties to Salafi jihadis in Gaza or leaders that had previously fought abroad, including with al-Qaeda.

The group rose from the chaos in Sinai that began with the uprising in January 2011. Its operations increased in the wake of the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état, shifting its main target from Israel to the Egyptian security forces, declaring the Egyptian army and police apostates that can be killed.

The group was believed to have been the main group behind the militant activity in the Sinai. From September 2013 to late January 2014, the group claimed responsibility for a rapid succession of mass scale attacks throughout Egypt, including the attempted assassination of the Egyptian interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The group recruited Bedouins as well as other Egyptians and people of other nationalities. Ten leaders from the group were reported to have escaped from the Sinai to Gaza and Marsa Matrouh in late 2013.

During 2014, the group sent emissaries to ISIL in Syria to seek financial support, weapons and tactical advice. On 10 November 2014, many members of the group took an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL. Following this pledge, ISIL supporters within the group formed an official branch of ISIL in the region, known as Wilayat Sinai, the Sinai Province of the Islamic State.

Designation as a terrorist organisation

The group has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Egypt, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Attacks

  • The group has bombed the pipelines that carry gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan multiple times.
  • The group claimed responsibility for the attack on Israeli troops in September 2012.
  • The group claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on the minister of interior Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa that occurred in September 2013.
  • The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a military intelligence building in Ismailia in October 2013.
  • On 20 November 2013, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mohamed Mabrouk, a security officer involved in the trial against Mohamed Morsi, who was shot dead outside his home in Nasr City on 17 November.
  • A police compound in Mansoura was bombed by the group on 24 December 2013, killing at least 16 people, including 14 police officers.
  • On 31 January 2014, a rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula aimed at Eilat. The Iron Dome system intercepted the rocket. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis took responsibility for the launch.
  • The organization claimed responsibility for an attack in Eilat, Israel which occurred on 20 January 2014; no damage or injuries were reported.
  • The group took responsibility for an attack on a police checkpoint in Beni Suef on 23 January 2014 that killed 5 people.
  • The group claimed responsibility for the January 2014 Cairo bombings that took place in late January 2014, though it later indicated that the Soldiers of Egypt group was behind one of the bombings.
  • Claimed responsibility for the shooting down of a military helicopter in the Sinai that occurred on 25 January 2014.
  • Claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mohamed Al-Saied (who was a member of Egypt’s Interior Ministry) that occurred on 28 January 2014.
  • The organization claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on Eilat, Israel which occurred on 31 January 2014; the rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
  • Claimed responsibility for the 16 February 2014 Taba bus bombing that killed four people, including three Korean tourists and an Egyptian bus driver. The group warned all tourists to leave Egypt before 20 February 2014.
  • The group claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 3 people in the Sinai that occurred on 2 May 2014.
  • The group released a video on 28 August 2014 showing the beheading of 4 Egyptians accused of being Mossad spies and providing Israel with intelligence.
  • The group claimed responsibility in late September 2014 for killing 6 security personnel.
  • On 8 October 2014, a faction of the group in the Gaza Strip calling itself the Islamic State of Gaza launched a bombing attack on the French Cultural Centre in the city of Gaza, only to issue a statement several hours later denying any responsibility for the attack.
  • The group released a graphic propaganda video claiming responsibility for the 24 October 2014 Sinai attacks that killed 28 soldiers northwest of the town of Arish. The group is also responsible for a drive-by shooting several hours later at a checkpoint in Arish that killed three soldiers.

 

ABM is an Al Qa’ida inspired militant Islamist group based in the northern Sinai region of Egypt. The group is said to recruit within Egypt and abroad and aims to create an Egyptian state ruled by Sharia law. ABM is assessed to be responsible for a number of attacks on security forces in Egypt since 2011. The attacks appear to have increased since the overthrow of the Morsi government in July 2013. The group’s reach goes beyond the Sinai, with the group claiming responsibility for a number of attacks in Cairo and cross-border attacks against Israel. ABM has undertaken attacks using vehicle borne improvised explosive devices and surface-to-air missiles.

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