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New Egypt terror group adopting ’lone wolf’ approach

dimanche 6 juillet 2014, par Wissam Matta

“In the name of God the Merciful, may He stand beside us.” With those words, Ajnad Misr wrote their first tweet on Jan. 23, 2014, just two days before the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution.

After their first tweet praising God, Ajnad Misr continued tweeting and published their manifesto titled “Retribution is Life” on Jan. 24. They later used that same title as a slogan and “signature” on social networking sites and on all communiques issued to take responsibility for subsequent bombing operations.

In its manifesto, as in its other communiques, Ajnad Misr adopted a rhetoric closer to the one espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood or its ideological allies in political Islam than that of other jihadist factions. Meanwhile, it intentionally resorted to Salafist terminologies, such as the “soldiers of oppression” and the “establishment of a state that pleases God almighty, the Quran and the Prophet’s teachings,” as well as quoting Sheikh al-Islam (Supreme Muslim Authority) Ibn Taymiyyah’s discourse about the “first emigrants and followers.”

The manifesto further stated : “The criminal agencies of the regime, and all the members thereof, grew accustomed since the days of the defunct administration to oppressing and humiliating the people, preventing them from living a dignified life, while driving them away from religion. As a result, the people initiated their blessed rebellion against those criminal apparatuses until they secured their freedom from their repression and tyranny, in the process deposing a number of their symbols. But, our revolution is not complete. Our failure to exterminated the roots of corruption left the door open for the men, remnants and earthly laws of oppression’s institutions to exploit this weakness and re-emerge in an even uglier and more criminal form. As a result, it is impossible for us to accept that our beloved Egypt remain humiliated, particularly considering that it is home to minds and abilities capable of resisting the mightiest of Earth’s tyrants.”

Contrary to communiques issued by other jihadist factions active in Egypt, most prominent among them the Sinai Peninsula’s Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Ajnad Misr’s statement included content that suggested their desire to win over the Egyptian people, especially when it emphasized that “all those who stand up to those criminal bodies must remain extremely vigilant and careful not to inflict damage upon the innocents among us, even if they opposed us.”

In another statement issued on the same day, Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility for two bombings, one of which targeted Central Security forces near the Research Center in the Mohandiseen neighborhood of Cairo, which it described as “forces tasked with killing and targeting the innocent every Friday,” in reference to the demonstrations in support of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Meanwhile, the second bombing they claimed responsibility for targeted the al-Talibiyah police station on Al-Haram Street in Giza, which came as a response to the warning issued by “the arrogant criminal [Interior Minister] Mohamed Ibrahim about the need to stay away from police stations.”

Furthermore, Ajnad Misr’s communique took responsibility for a slew of previous operations, “the purpose of which was to gauge the reaction of the criminal institutions.” Among them was the targeting of the July 26 roundabout checkpoint (Jan. 7, 2014), the tourist ambush (Nov. 25, 2013) and the Abboud ambush (Nov. 20, 2013).

Ajnad Misr continued its operations, in the context of the “Retribution is Life” campaign, when it took responsibility for two explosive devices that targeted the headquarters of the General Directorate of Special Operations in the Central Security Forces of Greater Cairo on the Alexandria desert road (Jan. 31, 2014), as well as two other explosions that targeted a Central Security patrol in Giza Square (Feb. 7, 2014) and three explosions that rocked Nahda Square near Cairo University (April 2, 2014). The latter led to the death of Brig. Inspector Tariq Almarjawi of the Giza Security Directorate. This was followed by an explosive device that exploded in Lebanon Square (April 19, 2014) and the assassination of central Security Force Gen. Ahmad Zaki with a bomb planted in his car in the 6th of October City. It also took responsibility for the Ittihadiya Palace bombings, the night before last [June 30], which raised the level of its challenge to security forces, for it revealed details about the operation two days before its execution.

An analysis of the statements issued by Ajnad Misr and its modus operandi when conducting operations (planting and detonating improvised explosive devices), reveals that this group is affiliated or ideologically allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, or one of the other factions that compose the Alliance to Support Legitimacy.

Based on this analysis, Egyptian security experts have determined that the identity of this faction — against which a judgment was issued by the Court of Urgent Matters, characterizing it as a “terrorist organization” — revolves around it being a terrorist group established by deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater, prominent Salafist leader Hazem Abu Ismail or splinter factions formed by Brotherhood youth groups. This came following their imprisoned leadership’s decision to give the latter the authority to plan and execute operations on the ground.

This assumption is further bolstered by the fact that all of Ajnad Misr’s operations — except for the one perpetrated two days ago — were carried out within a specific geographical area of Giza Governorate, known for its illegal slums that form a fertile environment for the proliferation of Islamic cells.

It also would seem that the primitive manner by which the group executed its first operations led Egyptian security forces to underestimate its ability to execute large-scale operations, such as the ones carried out by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis during the past three years.

But, a careful analysis of these operations reveals that Ajnad Misr, the membership of which — according to security forces estimates — does not exceed 20, is growing more violent. This was evidenced by the Nahda Square bombings, its assassination of Gen. Ahmad Zaki and the explosions that targeted the Ittihadiya Palace, all of which suggest that its terrorist activities have undergone a qualitative and geographical shift.

The intensification of operations on the part of Ajnad Misr is also cause for concern that this emerging group might become the source of a real threat to Egyptian security forces in the near future, and grow to be as dangerous as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. This is particularly true considering that its espoused ideological path suggests that Ajnad Misr falls under the umbrella of “lone wolf” groups, the modus operandi of which was defined by the so-called Mustafa bin Abdel Qadir Set Maryam, also known as Abu Musab al-Souri, and dubbed al-Qaeda’s philosopher.

According to Souri’s methodology, which he revealed in his book "Daawat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya al-Alamiya" (Call to Worldwide Islamic Resistance), small groups (composed of two to 15 people) espousing jihadist ideals, would choose their own names and operate individually and independently from other groups. They would begin by executing small, medium or large-scale self-funded operations and conduct indoor training sessions inside houses or industrial workshops, while making use of primitive expertise acquired through jihadist websites, prior to splintering and expanding like a cancer.

The purpose of these groups’ operations would be to spread terror as part of a jihadist code of conduct — to terrorize, inflict damage and establish the “Muslim state” — all within a jihadist environment similar to the one that prevails in the Arab world today. This makes such groups difficult to control and raises the level of concern that they might progress to executing more extremist violent acts.

In that regard, a statement spread on the Internet in the past two days, bearing the stamp of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which included encouragement to Ajnad Misr for carrying out their threats. If the provenance of this statement proves true, one could only imagine how the situation might deteriorate if other small groups were to emerge, similar to the one that carried out the bombings in Egypt on June 30.

(03-07-2014 - Wissam Matta)

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