Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

ISIS Targets Egypt

A still from one of ISIS' newest videos, which highlighted the Sinai insurgency and its affiliate group, Sinai Province.

A still from one of ISIS’ newest videos, which highlighted the Sinai insurgency and its affiliate group, Sinai Province.

Earlier this month, the Islamic State (ISIS) launched a massive media campaign in support of the insurgency in Sinai. Officials from 14 of its so-called provinces in Iraq, Libya, and Syria released videos promoting an Egyptian affiliate group, Sinai Province. The videos feature typical ISIS themes, such as condemnations of apostate Arab and Western governments, glorification of successful attacks, and praise for martyred brethren. What sets these videos apart, however, is the sheer number released at once, as well as their focus on Sinai, which previously played a relatively minor role in ISIS propaganda.

This media blitz could mark a turning point in ISIS strategy. The group has lost territory in Iraq and Syria, and the videos could signal a reorientation toward North Africa. ISIS may also be trying to boost morale and recruit new members. Finally, the releases could portend ISIS’ growing interest in Israel, and might suggest that the country could be the caliphate’s next target.

The series warns Egyptians against adopting the “new religion” of democracy, and urge them to “wake up and realize [their] salvation is with sharia.” They play up Sinai’s location as the “land of the prophet Moses,” denounce Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a new Pharaoh, and curse him for “protecting the Jews.”

From ISIS’ perspective, targeting an Egyptian audience makes sense. First, the organization may sense that Egyptians are ripe for recruitment, as the government’s economic failings and crackdown on dissent have eroded Sisi’s popularity. Moreover, the Brotherhood—once a formidable political force—has become a tainted brand. Its political party was only able to hold power for one year, and thousands of its members have since been jailed by the current regime. ISIS can take advantage of that vacuum by promoting Sinai Province, framing it as the most effective vehicle for Egyptians to undermine Sisi’s regime.

The videos’ emphasis on Sinai may also be setting the stage for a large-scale attack. Indeed, just a day after releasing the last of the videos, ISIS claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the outskirts of Cairo. The assault killed eight plainclothes police officers, and was the deadliest terrorist incident in the capital since 2013. A dramatic attack against Israel may also be in the works: the Israeli military is reportedly preparing for a major strike from Sinai that could even include tanks or artillery.

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5 replies

  1. Thank you for getting my reply button back

    I wish you and me have enough time so I explain what we know about ISIS in the middle East, but in brief, you can call them a vocal phenomenum that can not exist but in countries that have lost armies like Iraq, Syria and Libyea in particular, because they are a bunch of bad quality members trained in a hurry to face weak civilians and not regular armies
    They proceed in those countries by frightening weak civilians and dislocating them.
    They depend most at scary propaganda like scary Fatwas and videos ‘mostly fake shots’ to convince the world that they can invade all countries even America!

    Like any coward terrorist all they can do is to set explosions anywhere in the world and disappear,
    but they can’t settle down as an Islamic State neither in Egypt or Israel or any country they claim they will invade ‘like in this topic’
    They lost hope in their big dream ‘Egypt’ after Brotherhood lost power
    Few of them still sneaking sometimes through the borders to Sinai through the tunnels of ‘Hamas’ to set bombs and take photos to them holding the black flag to use in proving that they’r existong in Sinai
    but every time army kills them in Shiekh Zoied on the borders

    Liked by 1 person

    • The scary guys who bull the poor civilians when they fall in hands of armies
      No translation needed to tell what the cowards are saying
      The funniest part is their screams ‘we didn’t mean harm’!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are so welcome, Fada.

      You make a very important point about ISIS. ISIS is the same Sunni insurgency that attacked American forces for over ten years. These crazy jihadists have been able to organize and obtain control in countries that have been destabilized by foreign invasions, just as the Russian invasion of Afghanistan birthed the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

      ISIS began in Iraq. The Syrian civil war and Libya provided more ISIS and Al Qaeda recruits, attracting new jihadists like flies. They came first to Iraq from Syria, and then to Syria from Libya and from throughout the world. Libya may have done more to destabilize the entire region than the American invasion of Iraq.

      To remove Bashar al-Assad without a plan for who or what will rule Syria afterward is to utterly fail to understand the lessons of recent world history. Iraq and Libya might be better in some ways, but they are so much worse in so many more ways. Indeed, the people of the Middle East region and the world have suffered greatly from the growth of these extremist groups in destabilized countries.

      And while I absolutely support the removal of Bashar al-Assad, we still wait for a realistic plan.

      Propaganda is important to the success of any army. ISIS and Al Qaeda groups are being destroyed everywhere. They are desperate for new recruits and positive news. The destruction of innocent lives by the bombing of the Russian airliner is something that they were eager to claim credit for.

      One of the reasons I posted this is because I want people to understand that Egypt has been and continues to be on the frontline in the war against radical Islamic extremists and terrorism. Her soldiers and police officers have paid a heavy price to protect Egypt. We will not forget them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You made many good points, but every point needs a pile of topics and links to be cleared out

    Let us first drop the well known fact that ISIS is made of Sunni groups. ‘They help Iran also in some way’ by distabilizing Saudia, and sparing Shi’hte Bahrain and Hezbullah of terror operations
    So, let us call them a modern tool of proxy wars, no matter emerged from what or created by who, they do work ‘for and against’ every client
    Turkey and Saudia are examples for the gulliable client that might offer them weapons and space on Allepo borders with Turkey but both clients can’t exorsize ISIS from their own soil

    Unfortunately this Al-qaieda_2 wouldn’t get big ground in three regional countries if war and protests didn’t destroy their armies like al-qaeda_1 slashed the chance in Afghanistan

    And it is true that Egypt is the frontline in the war against all terrorist groups including ISIS and Hamas and their military arm al-qassam because her army still exists and it’s rated the first in the reagon ‘may be before Iran’ .
    There’s a big battle on our borders since five days that the world media ignores, the battle names ”the ripping eagle’ and it led Qassam militias to lose hundreds and send help cries to ISIS leaders.

    For Syria, the ‘no plan’ made its future a mystery for all of us whether Bashar or the terrorists survive especially powers like Russia, Iran and Turkey are involved obviously beside the money of gulf,
    no third alternative speculation is anticipated like Victory of the people or Democracy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoyed reading your reply. Your perspective is informative and valued.

      Egypt’s armed forces far surpass Iran’s. No doubt about it.

      I’m tired tonight, but I’ll edit and add to this reply later. Thank you for your views, Fada. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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