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Sinai attack needs to be a turning point in Egypt’s war on terror

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
25th November 2017 - Quoted by Jason Burke - The Guardian

Egypt’s restive northern Sinai province, where at least 235 people were killed and scores more injured in a bomb and gun assault on a mosque on Friday, has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, when Islamist militants killed more than 30 soldiers in one operation.

More than three years of fighting has failed to crush an insurgency waged by the local Islamic State affiliate, Wilayat al-Sinai (the Governorate of Sinai), which is also blamed for bombing attacks on churches in Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It had also carried out the previous deadliest attack in Sinai when it downed a Russian passenger jet carrying tourists back from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015, killing 224 people.
“It very much fits the Isis modus operandi, even if they are not the only group with the capability locally … [Isis in Sinai] is a potent organisation,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a US-based terrorism specialist.
Al-Qaida targets military personnel, police or officials, but not ordinary Muslims, even Sufis, as part of a “hearts and minds strategy” designed by al-Zawahiri. “Al-Qaida is not more moderate than Isis … just more pragmatic,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

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