Egypt’s Armed Forces’ war on terrorism: 2014 in review

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In 2014, the whole world witnessed the rise of terrorist threats, with Egypt having its part in fighting its own war on terrorism, especially in the Sinai Peninsula. 

Following a decisive change In Egypt, when the army backed the 30 June 2013 popular revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood regime, a new political map was charted for Egypt and the Middle East.

The insurgencies led by Egypt’s terrorist organisations in response to the toppling of MB President Mohamed Morsi escalated in 2014, prompting wide-scale operations and unprecedented measures by army and security forces to restore stability and order in the country.

Here are the most important events that shaped Egypt’s course in its war against terrorism in 2014:

January:

Militants bombed the gas pipelines joining Egypt, Jordan and Israel in North Sinai on 17 January. Egypt’s most prominent terrorist organisation, Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for taking down an Air Forces helicopter, killing five of its crew, on 26 January.

The attack was the first reported against Egypt’s ِAir Forces since the beginning of the militant attacks against the country’s security forces.

February:

In response to January’s attacks, the Armed Forces launched major crackdowns on terrorists’ hotbeds in North Sinai, launching air strikes and using heavy artillery.

Nearly 50 militants were killed during this month, in one of the army’s most powerful crackdowns on Sinai’s militants since the ouster of the Islamist government in 2013.

This month also witnessed a fallback in terrorist attacks against security forces, except for limited operations in different parts across North Sinai.

March:

The Egyptian military killed 10 militants, apprehended 50 others, and seized large amounts of heavy arms, during a crackdown on several towns in North Sinai on 6 March.

On 19 March, two Egyptian Army officers were killed during a gunfight with Islamist militants in Qalioubeya governorate, southeast of Cairo. Ten militants were killed.

An Army brigadier was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in Ismailia governorate, northeast of Cairo, on 30 March. No group claimed responsibility for the assassination.

April:

This month didn’t witness any major attacks carried out by terrorist organisations against security and army forces.

On 3 April, a brigadier was killed in a bomb blast that targeted a security checkpoint near Cairo University.

Seven militants were killed in air strikes targeting terrorist hotbeds in several towns in North Sinai on 24 April.

Security sources announced it had dismantled 26 terrorist cells in different governorates across Egypt on 31 April.

May:

This month also witnessed a retract of militant attacks, as the Egyptian security forces intensified their efforts to secure the presidential elections.

Shady Al-Minaeay, a prominent leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist organisation and three of his top aides were killed on 23 May during a security operation in North Sinai.

June:

Egyptian security forces’ crackdown on militants during the previous couple of months resulted in a major retreat of terrorist attacks against security forces.

On 18 June, the Armed Forces raised precautionary measures to secure Egypt’s strategic borders, aiming to prevent terrorists loyal to the Islamic State terrorist organisation (formerly ISIL)  from infiltrating Egypt’s borders.

Four Egyptian Central Security personnel were killed in Rafah City, North Sinai, on 28 June when militants opened fire on their vehicle as they were heading to Cairo.

July:

On 14 July, eight civilians were killed, more than 30 wounded, in three separate attacks that targeted a residential building, a military camp and a security checkpoint in North Sinai.

Army forces killed 17 militants of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis organisation in air strikes and ground operations that targeted the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid in North Sinai, 17 July.

On 19 July, 23 Egyptian Border Guards conscripts were killed in a terrorist attack at Al-Farafra oasis in the New Valley governorate, near the Libyan border.

The attack was the deadliest against the army forces stationed at the country’s western borders.

A number of assailants were killed during the attack, and the army managed to diffuse two IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) wired in two vehicles containing firearms and ammunition.

The Egyptian Army and security forces also announced a full alert state in response to the attack, the responsibility of which was later claimed by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

On 26 July, four children were killed in Al-Goura town in North Sinai, when a mortar shell fired by militants landed on a residential unit.

Faisal Hussien Soliman, the prominent leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist organisation, was killed in a security operation in Ismailia governorate on 28 July.

August:

The Armed Forces carried out one of its major crackdowns, resulting in the death of 50 militants.

On 6 August, five policemen were killed in a terrorist attack at Matrouh road in the country’s North Coast.

The terrorists targeted a security checkpoint in front of Marina village’s gate 6, which resulted in the death of one officer and four other conscripts.

The Armed Forces raided one of the biggest terrorist spots controlled by the group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis on 14 August. The cell was located in the southern parts of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid towns in Sinai.

Police Forces killed Fayez Abu Sheita, a prominent field leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, during a security operation in Arish city on 31 August.

Army and police forces operations resulted in the killing of 50 militants, and the arrest of 70 others, in different parts of the country.

September:

On 13 September, the Armed Forces killed six militants belonging to Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist group in Sinai’s Sheikh Zweid, including Younis Selim Al-Qaram, one of the group’s prominent leaders.

Six policemen were killed in a terrorist attack that targeted a security convoy in the North Sinai city of Rafah on 16 September. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Agnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) organisation claimed responsibility for a bombing near Egypt Foreign Ministry headquarters in Cairo, 21 August, which killed two people and injured seven others.

The Sinai-based group Agnad Misr was designated a terrorist organisation by the Egyptian Authorities.

It claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks since the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

October:

A security operation in Rafah city killed Shehta Farhan Khameis, a prominent leader of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis in North Sinai, 11 October.

Six Army soldiers were killed in a RPG attack that targeted their vehicle in Arish city in North Sinai, 19 October.

24 August witnessed the deadliest terrorist attack ever to occur against the Egyptian Armed Forces.

At least 31 Egyptian army soldiers and officers were killed, when a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into the Qaram Al-Qawadis security checkpoint in Arish city, capital of North Sinai.

The suicide bombing was accompanied by RPG rocket attacks.

The second phase of the attack occurred when security members were attempting to clear the scene at the checkpoint following the initial attack, at which point a car, described as an SUV, drove up to the scene and started firing rocket-propelled grenades at security officers.

November:

In response to the wave of deadly attacks against security forces in October, the Egyptian state declared unprecedented measures in the fight against militants, launching the widest military campaign since 2011.

The new measures included a state of emergency in several parts of North Sinai, in addition to imposing a buffer zone on the border of North Sinai with the Gaza Strip.

On 10 November Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis swore allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ terrorist organisation, formerly ISIL.

12 November marked the first naval attack to be reported against Egypt’s navy forces since terrorist organisations stepped up their operations.

An Egyptian naval patrol came under attack near one of the country’s Mediterranean ports from three boats, prompting an exchange of fire.

The naval patrol was on duty 400 miles north of the port of Damietta when the unidentified boats opened fire from several directions. Twenty of the attackers were captured.

Egypt’s military announced that eight soldiers were missing and five others injured as a result of the naval attack.

December:

On 2 December, residents of North Sinai’s Sheikh Zweid town found the dead bodies of five people shot in the head.

The dead bodies were suspected to be residents executed by the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis terrorist organisation.

The terrorist organisation carried out several execution-style killings against Sinai residents, accusing them of “cooperating with security forces.”

On 14 December, a policeman was killed and another one injured in an attack near Arish police station in northern Sinai.

The Egyptian security forces’ crackdown on militants killed nearly 30 militants since the beginning of the month.

By the end of 2014, Egypt`s security officials announced that 70 per cent of the terrorist threat has been eliminated, as a result of security efforts and campaigns carried out since 2011.