The Sinai Islamist Insurgency

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A rather tranquil and sparsely populated area for much of the 90s, the Sinai Peninsula is increasingly becoming a hotbed for insurgent activities. Groups allied to either al-Qaida or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been mounted an insurgency movement that has caused the deaths of thousands, primarily of Egyptian Security Forces. The coup that removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s only democratically elected president, and returned Egypt to a military state with the election of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the catalyst that intensified the insurgency movement in the Sinai Peninsula.

The presidency of Mohamed Morsi, who was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, brought rejuvenated spirit to the extremist movement in Egypt. Before his election, the Muslim Brotherhood was barred from office under Hosni Mubarak’s presidency. Though Morsi ran as an independent, his constitutional assembly and parliament was dominated by Islamists. Secular Egyptians and analysts alike did not approve of the new constitutional changes, as well as the decision to retry those acquitted of the killing of protesters during Mubarak’s regime, which led to massive protests around the country. The continual tension between President Morsi’s government with the military, as well as secularists, reached its boiling point on 1st July 2013. On that day, the Egyptian Armed Forces issued a 48-hour ultimatum for political parties to meet the demands of the Egyptian people, which President Morsi rejected. After the 48-hour deadline passed, on 3rd July 2013, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi staged a coup with a detailed road map of the future of Egypt with Adly Mansour, who was the Head of the Constitutional Court, as the Interim President of Egypt. President Morsi was quickly arrested and charged of inciting the killing of opponents, espionage, escaping Wadi el Natroun Prison during the 2011 revolution, among other charges.

The removal of Mubarak’s successor, Mohammad Morsi, only served to worsen matters in the Sinai Peninsula. Militants attacks in the Sinai rose significantly following the coup. Some analysts have claimed that recently freed members from Egyptian al-Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s former group Egyptian Islamic Group, returned to support terrorist and insurgent groups operating in the Sinai. As the Sinai insurgency grew, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, who pledged their allegiance to ISIS and rebranded themselves as ISIS-Sinai Peninsula, became the biggest and most organised militant group operating in the region. By 2015, the Sinai insurgency had grown from a campaign that mostly targets “soft” targets, i.e. hotels, and restaurants, to a structured, low-to-mid level insurgency primarily targeting “hard” targets, i.e. military camps. Though the case, by the following year, ISIS-Sinai Province began targeting Coptic churches and Mosques in the Sinai and Cairo. The intensification of the group’s activities is primarily attributed to a shift in ideology, and unprecedented access to both funds and weapons. The fact that North Sinai, where much of the fighting has taken place, is comprised of marginalised ethnic groups, including Bedouins, has created a sense of disconnect among the locals—something which is seen as helping fuel a level of support for the militants there.

The Egyptian government and their security agencies have struggled to contain this growing threat.  The Egyptian military has been conducting operations throughout the Sinai Peninsula in response to the attack by insurgent groups in the area. The military has been criticised for their “Scorched earth strategy,” which aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy, i.e. military and hardware, potential safehouses/hideouts. Additionally, the Egyptian government has been accused of using the terrorism laws, which are supposed to be used to defeat the insurgency in the Sinai, to target al-Sisi’s opponents.


Where: Sinai Peninsula (Egypt, North Africa)

Population: 1.4 million

Deaths: 1,000 security force members

 2,500 militants

 1,500 extrajudicial killings

Refugees/Displaced peoples: 40,000

Arrests:  2,500

Key actors

The Egyptian government’s main role in fighting the Sinai Insurgency has been through the use of the legal system, enacting the new Terrorism bill in 2015. The law stipulates that the government should create two lists, one that details terrorist entities such as ISIS-Sinai Peninsula and another that mentions defendants labelled as terrorists. The government took it a step further by enacting the cybercrime law. The law dictates that the government can shut down or block any website they believe is a threat to national security or the economy. Also, those who are found to running those websites could face prison time or be forced to pay a fine. During President Morsi’s presidency, in an attempt to tackle the issue of radicalisation in the Bedouin communities, he promised to increase development spending in the region, provide land permits, change discriminatory treatment and reinvestigate cases jailed Bedouins accused of partaking in extremist activities. None of the promises were kept.

The Egyptian government has been using the terrorism bill and cybercrime law that is supposed to create ‘stability’ in the Sinai to target al-Sisi’s opponents. The ambiguities in the law allow the police and judiciary to arrest civilian dissidents, including those students who participated in the 2013/2014 protest and charge them with terrorism. Human Rights Watch report showed that the terrorism bill was extensively used right before the March 2018 presidential elections to detain prominent activists and journalist. Journalists are targeted with the terrorism law because it says anyone who publishes or promotes news about terrorism contrary to official statements can be charged with terrorism. Much like the terrorism bill, human rights organisations believe that the cybercrime law’s intention is meant to crush political opposition.

The Egyptian Security Forces have been battling the Sinai insurgency since the early 2000s when the insurgency was still at its infancy. The intensification of the uprising in 2013 following the ousting of President Morsi out of power forced the Egyptian military to change their tactics to defeat a lethal threat. It’s necessary to keep in mind that the Egyptian army are restricted by the terms dictated in the Treaty with Israel that stipulates that the Egyptians can only deploy a certain number of troops in the Sinai Peninsula. Through talks with Israel, the two countries have agreed that the Egyptian military can deploy additional infantry battalions to counter the threat of extremist groups who have threatened the security of Israel. The Egyptian counter-terrorism approach evolved tactically with improvements in countering IEDs which the soldiers in the Sinai fell victim too very often. Though the improvement has been effective in reducing the death toll of soldiers, their strategy of defeating the insurgency in the Sinai has been brutal and ineffective with little change on the ground. The brutality of the operations in the Sinai increased after al-Sisi became President in 2013. Since the beginning of the Insurgency, Egyptian security forces have been accused of human rights violations, with many providing evidence of extrajudicial killings and targeting of opposition.

Bedouin tribes have populated the Sinai Peninsula for centuries. Bedouin militias have fought alongside extremist groups or independently in the Sinai due to the tumultuous relationship with the Egyptian government. They face many challenges, including the impact of urbanisation and the creation of resort town in their traditional lands, unemployment, and lack of service delivery into their communities. Bedouin militias working independently have traditionally been less violent compared to the ones fighting with extremists. Some of the attacks attributed to the Bedouin militia are kidnappings for ramson or in exchange of an imprisoned tribesmen, and blockades of MFO bases and camps

Who are they: Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which means Partisan of Jerusalem, is an insurgent group formed during the security vacuum that followed the overthrow of President Mubarak in 2011. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis transforms into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Sinai Province (SP) following pledging their allegiance to ISIS in November 2014. The identity of ISIS-Sinai province is disputed. Some say that Abu Osama al-Masri, the nom de guerre of Muhammad al-Isawa, is the leader of the group since August 2016.

Targets and fighters: Initially, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed to be fighting against Israel with some cross-border raids into Israel. They have threatened to retaliate against the Israeli army for killing and arresting leaders of extremist organisations operating in Gaza. However, by 2012, the group’s focus began shifting, primarily targeting Egyptian state infrastructure and security forces, i.e. police stations, checkpoints, gas pipelines. As the group evolved and transformed into ISIS-Sinai province, the group began claiming attacks on “soft” targets, i.e. mosques and churches. Their attacks have not been limited to the Sinai Peninsula, their home base, but have been able to expand their operations in Cairo, Giza and the Western Desert. ABM has between 1000-1500 active fighters.

Capability: Sinai Province has used anti-aircraft surface-to-air guided missiles to shoot down army helicopters. They also have access to mortars ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, heavy machine-guns, and IEDs.

Who are they: Jama’at al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad (JTWJ is an extremist group allied to al-Qaida. Though founded in Jordan in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jihadist responsible of creating and maintaining training camps in Afghanistan and supporting al-Qaida in Iraq during US invasion of Iraq, the group has a small following in the Sinai Peninsula. JTWJ was one of the forerunners of extremist groups operating in the Sinai before the Sinai Insurgency kicked in full gear during the Arab Spring

Target and Fighters: Jama’at al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad has always preached an anti-Israel message. Therefore, in the Sinai front, the group has attacked areas where Israeli tourists in Egypt frequent, as seen in the Hilton attack in 2004.

Who are they: Jund al-Islam, who are allied to al-Qaida, formed following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. The fighters used the lack of security apparatus after the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in Libya to train, recruit and accumulate weapons.

Targets and fighters: Though they were formed in 2011, most people and analyst had not heard of them until September 12, 2013, when they claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Rafah military intelligence building. The attacks on the Egyptian military is due to their belief that the military is traitors to Islam. With the emergence of ISIS in Sinai, the group has been targeting their affiliates in the region. Their active period was between 2013 and 2015. Following a two year hiatus, JAI took credit for an attack on ISIS-Sinai Province in 2017.

Issues with ISIS Sinai Province – After the attack on ISIS-Sinai Province in 2017, through an audio message, the group vowed to destroy ISIS-Sinai Province. JAI believes that ISIS-Sinai Province violates Islamic Sharia Law because they intentionally target civilians.

Who are they: Ansar al-Jihad in Iraq, an al-Qaida linked insurgent group operating in the Sinai Peninsula, announced its formation in December 2011. The extremist group accuses the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and his criminal allies of bringing suffering to the country. It is the military arm of Al-Qaida in the Sinai Peninsula (AQSP), who has been accused of conducting attacks in the Israeli resort town of Eilat which killed at least eight Israelis. The AQSP has also been accused of bombing natural gas pipelines between Israel and Egypt.

Who are they: Al-Mourabitoun was founded in 2015 under the leadership of Abu-Umar al-Muhajir, alias Hisham Ashmawi, who is a former Egyptian army officer and a previous senior figure in ISIS-Sinai Province before they pledged their allegiance to ISIS. The former Egyptian military official was dismissed from the military following accusations of spreading extremism. He joined Ansar Bait al Maqdis in 2012 but left the group when they pledged their allegiance and transformed into ISIS-Sinai Province. He was arrested on October 8th during a counter-insurgency operation by the Libyan national army in Derna, Libya. He was extradited to Egypt on 28th Many 2019.

Target and fighters: Since its formation in 2015, Al-Mourabitoun has not conducted any prominent attacks. They mainly publish statements and issue threats. Due to their lack of visibility, it remains unclear where they operate. The leader of the insurgent group called for the killing of Egyptian military officers.

Note: Al-Mourabitoun in Egypt should not be confused with former Sahara-based jihadist group al-Mourabitoun

Who are they: The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is an independent international organisation created through an agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1979, with peacekeeping responsibilities in the Sinai Peninsula. Its mission is to supervise the implementation of the security provision of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms. MFO has stated the “changed security environment in the Sinai following a series of terrorist attacks…impacted the mission, requiring operational changes and measures to promote the safety of personnel.” Analysists say that since the MFO is stuck between the conflict between the extremists and the Egyptian military, they are confined to their camps and bases.

Target: Their presence in the Sinai Peninsula has resulted in attacks by insurgents operating in their area. The first attack came in 2012 when unknown gunmen attacked MFO’s headquarters in the Sinai, injuring four soldiers. Three years later, two MFO peacekeepers from Fiji and four from America were wounded following an IED and a bomb explosion. Following the increased threat of attack, the organisations considered whether additional measures are needed to ensure force protection. Traditionally MFO peacekeepers are lightly armed and protected. In addition to IED attacks, they are subjected to sniper attacks and mortar barrages.

Contributing countries: Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay. As of April 2019, MFO’s force numbered 1152 personnel.

The EU-Egypt partnership has been on the rise for the past several years, with the two parties signing an association agreement in 2017. The agreement aims to support Egypt in its pursuit of stability through supporting socio-economic development, improved governance, security and terrorism. The 528 million Euro deal is meant to help Egypt until 2020. Individual countries with the EU have condemned Egypt’s human rights records, but they continue to sell arms and sign cooperation agreements.

Timeline of the crisis

Following the signing of the Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula had been traditionally quiet, with infrequent attacks. However, the turn into the new millennium brought an increase of attack in the region. Most of the attacks were related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than locally-focused issues. One of the most notable attacks was the October 7th attacks on the Hilton Taba and campsites used by Israelis in Ras al-Shitan. The VBIED attack on Hilton Taba not only killed 34 people but also caused the ten-floor hotel to collapse. The bombers responsible for the attacks were Palestinians who had failed to gain entrance to Israel to conduct the attack, thus, conducting the attack in Egypt in areas populated by Israelis. Less than a year later, on 25 July, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Salafist group allied to al-Qaida, attacked Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh killing 88 people and injuring another 200. The Egyptian government blamed the Abdullah Azzam Brigades on the October 7 attacks. Less than a year later, nail bombs set off by timers are denoted in several locations in the resort city of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 23 people instantly and injuring another 80. According to the International Crisis Group, this attack conducted by suspected Bedouin militants was directly related to Mubarak government policies that left the region marginalised. The Egyptian government concluded that Jama’at al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad, an extremist group allied to al-Qaida, was responsible for the attack. The Sinai Insurgency was triggered and shifted to a more extremist angle during the Arab Spring that brought the end of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship.

Omar Suleiman, Egyptian Vice President, announced that President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and handed power to the military. His resignation came after 18 days of mass protest that called for his removal from power. Mubarak’s resignation was met with cheers and excitement, especially by those camping at the Tahrir Square, the centre of demonstrations. His departure was a symbol for a renewed Egypt that would be democratically governed. A military council led by Defence Minister, Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, will lead the country until a date for next election is announced.

Mohammed Morsi came to power following the decision by former president Hosni Mubarak to resign.

For more information about Mubarak’s resignation, refer to 11 February 2011.

Insurgents overrun an Egyptian army outpost on the Israeli border using two armoured personnel carriers, killing ten soldiers, Israeli soldiers and their air force engaged with the insurgents who had entered Israel, killing an unspecified number of gunmen.

Since the military had controlled Egypt for an extended period, the tension between a civilian government, with influences from the Muslim Brotherhood, and the military was rising, resulting in the firing of several senior military staff. By 12 August, Mohamad Hussein Tantawi, the Head of the Armed Forces, and Sami Hafex Anan, the Army Chief of Staff, were asked to resign. Following the resignation of President Mubarak, Mohamed Tantawi served as the de facto Head of State and Defence Minister until Morsi was elected president of Egypt. Though the two senior military officials were forced to resign, the Morsi government gave them advisory positions which were largely ceremonial. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi replaced Mohamed Tantawi as the new Defence Minister. Four days later, the Director of the Intelligence Directorate and the Commander of the presidential guards, Mourad Mowafi, and other senior security figures, were removed from their position. The government justified the decision by citing the clashes in the Sinai region that led to the death of 16 policemen on August 6th.  

Four peacekeeping soldiers, belonging to the Multinational Force and Observers base in Gora region, were wounded when 60-70 gunmen attacked the base. Colombian troops predominately man the station. However, US national guard members are also at the base. No group or militia has claimed the attack, but the government suspects Bedouin Salafi gunmen staged the attack.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), who later rebrand themselves as ISIS-Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the attack that took place a week ago that killed one Israeli soldier. The soldier was providing security to construction crews building a fence in the Har Harif area on the border with the Egyptian Sinai. Another soldier was injured when the militants opened fire

Fourteen insurgents are found guilty and sentenced to death for their role in the 2011 Sinai attack which led to deaths of four police and military officers, along with one civilian. The attack took place at an El-Arish police station and a Bank of Alexandria branch in Northern Sinai. The militants are believed to be part of the al-Qaida linked Jama’at al-Tawhid wal Jihad

Similar to the Arab Spring but a much smaller scale, the Egyptian people, especially the secularists, took to the streets to protest Morsi’s presidency. Many saw his administration as an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood in power. The decision to give the presidency ultimate powers, through a constitutional declaration, was the catalyst for the protests to begin.

A military coup successfully deposed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s only democratically elected president from power. The chief of the Armed Forces, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the current president of Egypt, announced that he had suspended the constitution. He added that he would nominate Adli Mansour, the head of the constitutional court, as the interim president and a transitional cabinet would be formed. He finished the statement by saying that presidential and parliamentary elections would follow shortly. Following the coup, it was unclear whether former President Morsi was free or in detention in an unknown location. As soon as the coup was announced, supporters of the ousted president and army personnel clashed in various cities and towns in the country. Fourteen supporters were killed in Cairo, eight in Marsa Matrouh, and three dead and 50 wounded in Alexandria.

In response to mass protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were against the military coup, police and the army troops reportedly opened fire on the demonstrators. They opened fire at a pro-Morsi sit-in in Rab’a al-Adawiya Square in the Nasr city district in Eastern Cairo. Additionally, the security forced employed snipers and gunmen to target the protestors.

  • In five separate incidents, the police and army forces killed at least 1150 protestors.

North Sinai Security Forces detained three suspected perpetrators of the second Rafah massacre, where 25 soldiers were killed in the Abu Tawila region, located along the international Al-Arish/Rafah road. The three suspected perpetrators are Adel Mohamed Ibrahim, who was founding hiding out in Al-Arish, Ahmed M. and his brother.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) claims to have conducted the assassination attempt on Mohammed Ibrahim, the Interior Minister, on 5th A car bomb ripped through his motorcade, injuring at least 21 people. Following the attack, gunfire could be heard in Nasr city neighbourhood where the attack took place.

Jund al-Islam claimed responsibility for the explosion on the Rafah military intelligence building. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who targeted a two-story building in Rafah that housed a local branch of the Egyptian air force intelligence. The bombing caused the building to collapse. On the same day, a second suicide bomber targeted a military checkpoint in Rafah. The twin attacks claimed the lives of 9 people and injured 17, including seven civilians.

While addressing the nation, Egyptian army spokesperson Ahmed Ali announced that their recent operations to stabilise the Sinai has resulted in the arrest of 309 militants. Additionally, the operations identified al-Mahdiyyah near Rafah in the Sinai as an extremist stronghold for Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM).

Five hundred twenty-nine members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death. The mass sentencing, which is the largest in Egypt’s history, sparked widespread outrage and international condemnation. The international community questioned how a fair trial could be conducted when so many of the defendants had a two-day trial.

Israeli Army confirms that two soldiers were wounded after assailants fired shots and anti-tank missile at a vehicle near the Egyptian border. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Egyptian government has declared a state of State of Emergency in the north and centre of the Sinai Peninsula after a suicide bombing killed at least 31 soldiers. President el Sisi said that the state of emergency would remain for three months

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledges allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)., they had expressed their support of ISIS. Following their pledge, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis changed its name to ISIS-Sinai Province, commonly referred to as Sinai Province.

A vehicle IED was detonated at Mansoura security directorate building in the Nile Delta region, northern Egypt. The explosion ripped apart the five-story building and created damage to neighbouring buildings. At least 16 people, 14 of whom were police officers, were killed and another 150 were injured.

Though no group claimed responsibility for the attack immediately, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, was quick to place the blame of the Muslim Brotherhood. ISIS-Sinai Province (then known as Ansar Bait al Maqdis) later claimed responsibility for the blast.

The ISIS-Sinai Province militants fired a barrage of rockets and set off a car bomb in a series of attacks in North Sinai province which killed 45 people, mostly soldiers. Two children were among the dead. President al-Sisi, who was in Ethiopia for an African Union meeting, flew back to Egypt to address the nation. The president pledged to defeat the militants in the Sinai.

Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, is classified as a terrorist group by an Egyptian court. The decision is based on allegations that the armed wing staged terrorist attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood and carried out a bombing and a shooting operation which killed 33 security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014.  The classification of the armed wing of Hamas comes at a time where the Egyptian

A year since taking office, President Sisi issued an apology to “every Egyptian citizen who has been subjected to any abuse. I am accountable for anything that happens to an Egyptian citizen.” These remarks come as more activists release reports and statements detailing the increase of abuse since he took office, especially while pursuing militants in the Sinai.

Human Rights Watch claim that President al-Sisi presides over flagrant abuse of human rights since taking office a year ago. The human rights abuses started when he pledged to restore stability following the increase of violence by armed groups. The report adds that the absence of an elected parliament during his first year in office provided near total impunity for security forces abuses while issuing laws that severely curtail civil and political rights. This trend will effectively erase the human rights gains of the Arab spring that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The report maintains that the security forces must be held accountable for the mass killings of protestors after the coup that removed Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hisham Barakat, the state prosecutor, was killed after a bomb blast hit his motorcade in Cairo. The bomb, which was planted in a parked car, was remotely detonated. Two civilians and two police officers were reportedly injured. The following night, Egypt announced that Zakaria Abd El-Aziz Osman had been appointed as the acting prosecutor general. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the government suspects ISIS-Sinai Province is behind the attack.

After attacking 15 military and security posts, a band of 300 militants briefly occupied the town of Sheikh Zuweid. Independent reports indicate that 35 people have been killed, while at least 22 militants and 3 of their vehicles destroyed. The government issued a statement that only 17 soldiers were killed, and more than 100 attackers died in the attack.

ISIS-Sinai province says it fired three rockets into Southern Israel in a rare attack from Egyptian soil. They claimed the attack through a statement on Twitter. The Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the attack, adding that only two rockets were fired from the Sinai region.

ISIS-Sinai Province claims an attack on the Italian Consulate in Cairo, killing one civilian and injuring nine others. The consulate was targeted since it is near one of the busiest intersections in Cairo. The group warned Muslims from targets such as the consulate since they are legitimate targets for strikes. The Egyptian military detained four foreign journalists who were covering the bombing.

Sinai Province claims that they have killed hostage Tomislav Salopek. Mr Salopek is a Croat national who was kidnapped on 22nd June in Cairo where he worked as a surveyor Previously for a French geoscience company CGG. The group posted the photo on twitter claiming to be the body of Mr Salopek. Before the photo was circulated, Sinai Province had demanded the release of all jailed Muslim women in exchange for Mr Salopek’s life.  This was the first time that any insurgent group in the Sinai has kidnapped a foreigner from the capital and executing them in their stronghold.  

Jund al-Islam officially pledges their allegiance to al-Qaida in an audio message. Though they have pledged their allegiance, the extent of the ideological and moral ties between the two groups are yet to be determined.

The Russian airline Metrojet crashed, killing all 224 people on board.  The plane broke down in mid-air. Most of the passengers were from Russia, visiting the resort town of Sham-el Sheikh. ISIS-Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that they smuggled an explosive onboard. The attack led to Russia suspending all flights to and from Egypt, dealing a heavy blow to the country’s tourism industry.

Conflicting narratives from the Egyptian and Russian governments about the attack. On 4th November, the Russian Intelligence Services release a statement saying that they found traces of explosives in the debris of the Metrojet airliner. The Russian government is adamant that the downing of the plane was a terrorist attack. On 15th December, Egypt investigators say that there is no indication that a bomb was used to bring down the plane. Before both countries released their findings, Metrojet issued a statement insisting that technical fault is not the cause of the plane crash.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a police club killing nine people, including four police officers and wounding several others in El-Arish. ISIS-Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the attack.

ISIS-Province claims the Swiss Inn Hotel attack in El Arish that killed 7, including two judges, four police officers and a civilian. The attack came a day after Egypt held the second round of parliamentary elections. Judges who supervised the vote I the Sinai were staying at the heavily guarded hotel.

An ISIS-Sinai Province attack at a security checkpoint in the city of Arish claimed the lives of 13 Egyptian policemen. Witnesses reported hearing a massive explosion then heavy gunfire. Security forces killed five militants who carried out the attack.

Plainclothes police officers have been shot dead in the outskirts of Cairo by four gunmen. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the Sinai Province have claimed that the attack.

According to the Egyptian military, Abu Duaa al-Ansari, the head of ISIS-Sinai Province, along with 45 other militants were killed in an  operation in El-Arish town in the Sinai. The army destroyed arms and ammunition stores. ISIS-Sinai Province has not yet commented on the Egyptian military operations.

A bombing near the main Coptic Christian St Peter’s Cathedral in Cairo kills at least 25 people and wounding another 49 people.  Hours after the attack, Hundreds of Christian and Muslims protested the increase in the attacks against Christian around the country. The protesters called for the dismissal of the Interior Minister, Magdy Adel Ghaffar, due to security failures.

Hundreds of Coptic Christian are fleeing the city of Ismailia following a series of killing by a local armed group. The militants have killed at least seven Christians in separate attacks in El-Arish city in February alone. The provincial government have been helpful, aiding the fleeing Christians to find housing.  The recent increase in the attack against the Coptic Christians is a result of a video message from ISIS-Sinai Province claiming they are ‘infidels’ empowering the West against Muslims.

The first suicide bomber denoted his explosive device inside St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta. Survivors of the attack say that the suicide bomber denoted his explosives while rushing towards the altar. This attack killed 30 people and injured 78. Later in the day, the second suicide bomber denoted a bomb inside the Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, the seat of the Coptic papacy. Another bomb exploded outside the Cathedral gates while the survivors were escaping from the bombing inside. The attack took place just minutes after Coptic Pope Towadros II had left the church after hearing the news about the explosion in Tanta. Seventeen people were killed, and another 48 were injured. Mahmoud Mohamed Ali Hussein is believed to be the mastermind behind both of the bombings.  The Egyptian government responded to the twin suicide bombings with issuing a three-month state of emergency.

21 April 2017: Egyptian airstrike kills 19 ISIS fighters, including three leaders, in the Sinai

The Egyptian military alleges that an airstrike targeting ISIS-Sinai Province has killed 19 ISIS fighters, including three leaders. ISIS- Sinai Province has not commented on the matter.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a checkpoint at a military checkpoint in the southern Rafah village of El-Barth. Following the explosion, heavy gunfire from dozens of masked fighters ensued on foot. Forty fighters were also killed in a subsequent gun battle. 26 Egyptian soldiers were killed. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleges that Interior Minister had developed “assembly line” of abuse of collection information and prepare often fabricated cases.  The aim of this practise is to pursue political stability “at any cost.” The HWR report was based on interviews from 19 former detainees and the family of the 20th detainee who all claim to have been tortured between 2014 and 2016.  The Egyptian government categorically denies all the accusations.

Eighteen police officers were killed when suspected ISIS militants detonated a roadside bomb near the town of el-Arish. The militants then opened fire with machine guns at the survivors of the blast, which destroyed three armed vehicles and a fourth with signal jamming equipment.

Following a series of assaults on security posts in northern Sinai, a confrontation ensued, killing 6 Egyptian soldiers and 24 militants. The militants were armed with heavy machine guns and mortars when they attacked the security post in Sheikh Zweid and the surrounding area. The Egyptian military repelled the attacks with Apache helicopters gunships. 

Gunmen attacked a Sufi Mosque in Bir al-Abed, in the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 235 people and another 120 were wounded. The attack, which took place shortly after Friday prayers, was a combined bombing and armed attack. Hours after the attack, the Egyptian warplanes targeted the mountainous areas around Bir al-Abed, which is 40KM from the capital of North Sinai, El Arish. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the worst attack by insurgents in the Sinai desert. Suspicion is that ISIS affiliates are responsible for the attacks.

The Egyptian military says that an airstrike has killed some of the attackers involved in the Sufi Mosque massacre, as well as their vehicles.

Following the horrific attack at a Sufi mosque on 24 November, Egyptian president el-Sisi gave his security forces a three-month deadline to “restore security and stability” to the country’s northern Sinai province. The Egyptian military immediately launched airstrikes on targets in the surrounding Bir al-Abed in the Sinai. Local researchers and activists detail how the military forces are raiding villages and residential clusters near the site of the 24 November attack. Dozens have been detained, without proper charge

Colonel Tamer Rifai announced the implementation of a plan to push out armed groups in the Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert. The army has ordered hospitals in the area to increase its capacity to accommodate possible emergencies and medical evacuations.  By October 2018, the Egyptian army indicated that they had killed at least 450 armed fighters, dismantled 1200 explosive devices and destroyed 1900 vehicles and motorcycles. As a result of the operations in the Sinai, the government has spent $1.3bn to compensate residents forced to relocate from Northern Sinai. During the operation, 30 soldiers have lost their lives.

Egypt operations to jam the mobile signals of Sinai insurgent has affected the people of Gaza and Southern Israel. The Egyptian operation of jamming a range of mobile phone frequencies in the Sinai began on February 21st.

2 November 2018: ISIS-Sinai Province claimed responsibility for an attack on a bus in northern Egypt

A bus carrying Coptic visitors to a monastery in Minya, northern Egypt, was targeted by ISIS-Sinai Province. According to the Coptic archbishop of Minya, Anba Makarios, seven people were killed and another 14 wounded.

In a statement, the Egyptian Army stated that they had killed 46 ‘very dangerous’ militants, though it did not specify the dates or locations of the security operations. At least 100 suspected militants were arrested, and more than 30 cars and scooters were confiscated or destroyed in the operation. Fifteen militant hideouts were destroyed, and 204 explosive devices were dismantled.

During an offensive in the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian military claims to have killed at least 47 fighters. Five soldiers were killed during the operation. The operations resulted in the neutralising of 385 explosive devices. Since operation started in February, 650 fighters and 45 soldiers have been killed though no independent source has verified the government numbers


Human Rights Watch published a report tilted “If you are afraid of your lives, leave Sinai.” The report details wide spread of abuses against civilians during the Egyptian military offensives in northern Sinai. HRW say that the abuses amount to war crimes. Some of the abuses detailed include extrajudicial killings, intentional airstrikes on civilian areas, death due to ill treatment in custody, lack of media care, and the arrest and detention of children as young as 12. The Egyptian government has not commented on the report.


Militants killed at least 8 Egyptian policemen at a checkpoint west of El Arish. Some of the militants escaped following the attack while others were killed. The Egyptian government has dispatched reinforcements to the checkpoint.

A suicide bomb attack targeting security forces near a parking lot in the city of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai results in two deaths, including a civilian, and three security forces injured. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egyptian military say that at least three forces and three militants have been killed in a militant attack on a checkpoint in El-Arish, northern Sinai. The militants opened fire on the security forces and Egyptian military returned fire. The Security forces chased after the militants after they tried to escape, killing the three assailants. It is unclear which group the militants belong to since no group has claimed responsibility. Two other security forces are reportedly injured.


Seven soldiers and one civilian killed in an ambush in Bir Al-Abed by suspected Islamic state militants. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack. Islamic state claimed the attack, adding that they killed 15 Soldiers.


Egypt claims that they have killed at least 83 suspected fighters over the past month in operations in Central and North Sinai. The operations also led to the arrest of 61 criminal suspects. 376 explosive devices were found and destroyed during the operation that began on September 28th.


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