Author
Date
February 19, 2020

On Feb. 17, the Islamic State (IS), via its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for a sniper attack that killed one soldier and wounded another, at a checkpoint in Rafah in Egypt's North Sinai Peninsula. IS relies on a variety of tactics, including suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, ambushes, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and rocket and sniper attacks.
 

Attacks in Recent Days

Most notable attack locations in North Sinai.

IS' Wilayat Sinai branch has increased the number of attacks on Egyptian security forces in recent days, killing several Egyptian soldiers. On Feb. 12, IS claimed responsibility for an improvised explosive device (IED) that detonated in an area east of Bir al-Abed in Egypt's North Sinai Peninsula Feb. 11. The attack killed a brigadier general, along with three other soldiers. The Feb. 11 attack comes shortly after a series of incidents in recent days; IS attacked the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline in Bir al-Abed Feb 2, though officials said that the pipeline infrastructure suffered little damage. The attack on the gas pipeline came two weeks after Israel began exporting gas to Egypt. The gas agreement - which has been dubbed the most important agreement between Egypt and Israel since the two countries signed a peace deal in 1979 - is part of a trade deal between the Delek Group (Israel), US company Noble Energy Inc., and East Gas Company (Egypt), which is owned by the Egyptian General Intelligence Service. This was the first attack on the gas pipeline since January 2016.

Egyptian officials also reported Feb. 9 that security forces foiled an attack by IS militants against at least three security checkpoints in the North Sinai Peninsula; clashes between IS and security forces killed at least seven soldiers and injured 10 others. Egypt's Ministry of Interior announced Feb. 11 that at least 17 IS militants were killed during a raid on a hideout in El-Arish.

 

Outlook for the North Sinai Peninsula

IS poses a severe, nationwide threat in Egypt. The militant group regularly clashes with security forces in the North Sinai region, where the government has been leading a low-level counterinsurgency campaign since 2011. Despite the campaign, Wilayat Sinai remains one of the group's most active affiliates in North Africa and will likely remain a potent force for the foreseeable future. While the capabilities of IS affiliates have been degraded in North Sinai from their peak in previous years, IS fighters continue to launch weekly attacks targeting security forces, religious minorities, and civilians. Additional IS attacks against security forces, critical infrastructure, and civilians remain likely in the North Sinai Peninsula, particularly in El Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Bir al-Abed, in the coming days and weeks.

 

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