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February 26, 2014 8:13 am

Egyptian Army Cracks Down on Terrorists in Sinai

avatar by Steven Emerson

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The scene of a bomb blast in Egypt. Photo: Screenshot.

The Egyptian army is conducting a wide military operation in the Sinai to crack down on Islamic movements that use the area as a launching pad for terrorist operations.

As part of that campaign, soldiers have exchanged fire with a man named Yousef Mohamad Hamads Hassan, who belongs to “the extremely dangerous and takfiri group, Ansar Bait Al Maqdis,” an army spokesman wrote on Facebook, according to the Egyptian daily Al Masry Alyoum.

The army has confiscated arms, bullets, and military uniforms from Hassan’s home. The army, according to the newspaper, destroyed six tunnels that were used to send arms and assistance to the terrorist groups.

Ansar Bait Al Maqdis, or “Supporters of Jerusalem,” is a militant group that is active in Sinai and has attacked Israeli and Egyptian soldiers. Among its more infamous operations was an August 2012 attackagainst the Egyptian army in Rafah that left 16 soldiers dead. One month later, the group claimed responsibility for killing Israeli soldier Netanel Yahalomi.

The group escalated its attacks against the Egyptian government after the ousting of the former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi last July, killing members of the army, police, and civilians.

The group was also responsible for killing Lt.-Col. Mohamed Mabrouk, who was shot near  his home in Cairo. Mabrouk was involved in drafting criminal charges against Morsi.

Nabil Naeem, who was the leader of al-Qaeda affiliated group “The Egyptian Islamic Jihad” between 1988-1992, claimed last fall that Bait Al Maqdis has been recently funded by the Muslim Brotherhood through a deal struck with Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat Al Shater.

The group was founded in 2012; the majority of its members are Bedouins with some foreign fighters.

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