Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Sinai Province

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Sinai Province
ولاية سيناء (Wilayah Sayna)
Participant in the Sinai insurgency
Wilayat Sinai logo.jpeg

Logo of Wilayat Sinai
Active 13 November 2014–present
Ideology Salafi jihadism
Wahhabism
Leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader of ISIL)
Abu Hajar al-Hashemi (governor/wali)
Abu Osama al-Masri[1]
Ashraf Ali Hassanein Gharabali [2]
Headquarters Sinai Peninsula
Area of operations Egypt
Strength 1,000–1,500[3]
Part of  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Originated as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis
Allies Ansar al-Sharia (Egypt)[citation needed]
Opponents  Egypt
 Israel
 State of Palestine
Battles and wars Sinai insurgency, Gaza-Israel conflict

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Sinai Province (Arabic: الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام – ولاية سيناء‎‎, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī ‘l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām – Wilayah Sīnāʼ), or ISIL-SP,[4] is a branch of the militant Islamist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), active in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The group was formed on 13 November 2014 after the Sinai-based Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (ABM) pledged allegiance to ISIL.[3][5]

Background[edit source]

During 2014, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (ABM) sent emissaries to ISIL in Syria to seek financial support, weapons and tactical advice.[6] On 10 November 2014, many members of ABM took an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL.[7][8] It adopted the name Sinai Province and has since carried out attacks, mostly in North Sinai, but also in other parts of Egypt.[3] While the group has killed hundreds of Egyptian security personnel, it has also been responsible for attacks on civilians, including the killing of Croatian engineer Tomislav Salopek.[9]

On 1 July 2015, the group launched a large scale assault in and around the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, eventually being driven back by Egyptian security forces after at least 100 militants and 17 soldiers were killed in the fighting.[10] According to Brian Fishman of the New America Foundation, the tactics used by the attackers – suicide bombers backed up by direct and indirect fire, mortar fire in combination with small arms, and simultaneous assaults in multiple locations — suggested a transfer of knowledge from ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria.[11] The group claimed to have shot 3 grad rockets from Sinai to southern Israel near the Gaza Strip. Two rocket hits were confirmed in Eshkol. No one was injured and no damage was made.[12] On 16 July 2015, the group claimed responsibility for launching a rocket attack at an Egyptian Navy patrol boat along the northern coast of Sinai and close to the Gaza Strip.[13]

In December 2016, the group revealed the name of its governor or wali to be Abu Hajar al-Hashemi.[14]

In March 2017, the group released a video titled “The Light of the Islamic Law”, which they were shown blowing up Egyptian patrols, destroying TV sets, desecrating and detonating graves, executing prisoners and captured Egyptian soldiers, and lastly beheading two old men (one an elder who voiced opposition to ISIL, and the other a street magician performer).

Metrojet Flight 9268[edit source]

The group claimed responsibility for bringing down Russian aircraft Metrojet Flight 9268, carrying 224 passengers. It was flying to Saint Petersburg from Sharm-el-Sheikh on 31 October 2015, when it broke up over Hasna (Egypt), killing all on board.[15] Data obtained from the airplane black boxes gives credence to the idea that there was a bomb attack.[16] On 17 November 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that a bomb attack brought down the aircraft.[17]

One of the group’s leaders, Ashraf Ali Hassanein Gharabali, was shot and killed in a shoot-out with Egyptian security forces in Cairo on 10 November 2015. The Egyptian Interior Ministry linked Gharabali to a string of attacks including an assassination attempt on the Interior Minister.[18][19][20]

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