In a statement released to jihadist forums today, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya (ASAJ) charged that the Egyptian army was lying about its recent operations in the Sinai Peninsula. ASAJ’s statement, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, began by saying claims that an Adel Mohammed Ibrahim (a.k.a. Adel Habara) was arrested and that he leads al Qaeda in the Sinai are false.
“There is no al-Qaeda in Sinai as an organization for it to have a leader to arrest,” the group’s statement said. The group even claimed that “there is no one named Adel Habara.” A reporter with the Wall Street Journal similarly tweeted today that “Salafis in Sinai have already said they’ve never heard of the guy [Adel Habara] who was recently arrested.”
ASAJ went on to argue that the reason the Egyptian army is lying about the arrest of Adel Habara and other operations in the Sinai is to cover their “acts of betrayal.” The group’s statement then laid out a number of crimes it said were recently committed by the army.
ASAJ first denounced the recent destruction of homes in Rafah along the border with the Gaza Strip, which it said would “serve the goals of the Jews and their security.” On Sept. 1, Egyptian authorities destroyed a number of homes in the area “as a prelude to the possible creation of a buffer zone to reduce weapon smuggling and illegal militant crossings,” the Associated Press reported. The home demolitions and talk of a buffer zone have angered Egyptians and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
After denouncing the home demolitions, ASAJ condemned the army’s recent strikes in the Sinai, which security sources claimed had killed at least eight Islamist militants. According to ASAJ, the army struck mosques and homes of slain jihadists.
One of the homes that was targeted belonged to the family of Ansar Jerusalem (Bayt al Maqdis) fighter Yusri Muhaareb al Saraarkah (Yusri Muhareb al-Sawarka), who was killed on Aug. 9. ASAJ said that targeting the home of a slain fighter is “the custom of the Jews against the mujahideen in Palestine.” In Egypt, ASAJ said, Israel does not need to do this as “their lackeys and agents in the Egyptian army fulfill this role.”
According to ASAJ, the Egyptian army strikes in the Sinai on Sept. 3 led to much destruction at a mosque in Muqa’tah. Along with the statement, ASAJ released photos (reproduced below) showing some of the destruction at the mosque. ASAJ further said the army had struck homes that are generally occupied by women, children, and the elderly and were neither weapon caches nor training facilities.
The new communiqué concluded by stating that Egyptian army operations in the Sinai must be “repulsed and thwarted.” [T]his is what the mujahideen are doing every day with operations that harm them and destroy [the army’s] powers,” the statement said.
Hours after the release of the new statement from ASAJ, at least six security personnel were killed in yet another attack by gunmen in the Sinai, according to Al Ahram. A report in today’s Israel Hayom said IDF data has noted at least 300 attacks “launched against Egyptian forces in Sinai over the past few weeks.”
Today’s statement from ASAJ is not the first time the group has accused the Egyptian army of lying about its operations in the Sinai. About three weeks ago, the group denounced a number of army claims as “outright lies.”
On Aug. 22, ASAJ released a statement calling on Muslims to fight the “apostate” Egyptian army. The communiqué was particularly notable, as last fall the group had said that “the army and the police are not our targets and that our weapons are directed at the enemies and the enemies of our Ummah the Jews.” And similarly, in mid-May, the jihadist group had said “the target of the Salafist Jihadist current in Sinai is the Zionist enemy and its operations are directed to them, and the Egyptian soldiers are not a target for us.”