Violence in Egypt continues to boil over on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the media’s obsession with the George Zimmerman verdict and the royal birth in England.
The New York Times described “running battles with firearms, bottles and rocks near Tahrir Square in Cairo and on the edges of two protest sites that have been held by Mr. Morsi’s [former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi] Islamist supporters for weeks.” At least nine people were killed in Cairo on Tuesday, bringing the total fatalities to 14 this week to date. This is on top of the more than 50 people, mostly Morsi supporters, who lost their lives on July 8th.
The Muslim Brotherhood continues to dig in its heels, refusing any role in the new government while insisting on Morsi’s restoration to power and the return of his Islamist constitution. Followers are continuing their protest demonstrations. A Muslim Brotherhood leader also called on Egyptians to besiege the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest what Morsi supporters claim was U.S. support for his removal.
The opponents of the deposed Islamist regime and the Egyptian military, which took action against Morsi in response to the opposition’s huge protests in early July, are not yielding to Muslim Brotherhood-inspired pressure tactics. In fact, a public opinion poll published by the Baseera Public Opinion Research Center found that approximately 71% of Egyptians do not sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood-led demonstrations supporting Morsi.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood is not stopping at demonstrations, threats or random street violence in Cairo and other Egyptian cities to get its way. It appears to be organizing a major counter-attack to bring about its restoration to power, using the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as its command center and the Sinai Peninsula as its launching pad to force itself back into power through terrorism.
According to an exclusive story in the DEBKAfile Special Report dated July 22, 2013, “six Muslim Brotherhood officials escaped from Egypt after their president was overthrown in a military coup July 3 and smuggled themselves into the Gaza Strip to lead an uprising against the military in Cairo.” The DEBKAfile story goes on to provide details of the Gaza-based command center planning:
Headed by Mahmud Izzat Ibrahim, a senior deputy of the Supreme Guide, the group has established a command post at the Gaza Beach Hotel, to organize operations against Egyptian military and security targets, in conjunction with Hamas and armed Al Qaeda-linked Salafist Bedouin in Sinai. The ousted Islamist leaders hope their revolt will quickly spread out from Sinai to Egypt proper and topple the provisional rulers in Cairo… Our sources reveal that the group escaped from Egypt using the Hamas networks which operated underground in Egypt during the Mubarak presidency. In February 2011, when Mubarak was on his way out, those networks came out of hiding to engineer the mass jailbreak of Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi himself.
Meanwhile, jihadists and criminal elements are already causing havoc in the Sinai Peninsula, turning it into a lawless area where Egyptian police and army personnel have been targeted for assassination. Hamas is said to be helping their jihadist brethren that have set up operations in Sinai, which is not surprising considering that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to the DEBKAfile Special Report, there is a new terrorist network in Sinai, which calls itself “Communicators with the Mahdi,” consisting “almost entirely of Palestinian members of Hamas and Jihadi Islami from Gaza.”
It is this network, DEBKAfile explained, that is “held responsible for the sharp escalation in attacks on Egyptian security forces since the Brotherhood leaders set up shop at the Beach Hotel.”
“There is no doubt,” the DEBKAfile Special Report added, “that the Brotherhood revolt leaders in Gaza are coordinating their actions with the Egyptian al Qaeda leader Ramzi Mowafi and the armed Salafist legion he commands in Sinai.”
Mowafi is a veteran al Qaeda leader. Once serving as Osama bin Laden’s personal physician, Mowafi has assembled a force of as many as 9000 armed jihadists including members of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadists from points further away such as Sudan and Yemen.
Although Hamas denies any involvement in the Sinai jihad, the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported on claims by an unnamed Egyptian official that Hamas has sparked fighting in Sinai in recent days as it works “in collaboration with Sinai-based jihadists.”
The report also mentioned that Hamas suffered multiple casualties and arrests of its members as a result of counteractions already undertaken by the Egyptian army.
Strangely, while Hamas officials insisted their organization was not involved in the Sinai attacks, despite evidence to the contrary, the Hamas news site Al-Resalah appeared to be delivering a different message: “The intervention of Gazans in the Egyptian issue is nothing more than popular solidarity with the deposed president Mohamed Morsi, in whose time the situation improved on all levels.”
Needless to say, more overt Hamas military activities in Sinai, from which the Islamist terrorist organization already smuggles weapons and materials through tunnels into Gaza, is particularly worrisome to Israel. As a result, Israel is reportedly giving tacit support to plans by the Egyptian army for a large-scale deployment of troops in Sinai. An unnamed Israeli army source told the Times of London: “We consider securing Sinai a top priority and have no wish to tie the hands of the Egyptian army against clearing the area of dangerous terrorists.”
In short, the Muslim Brotherhood is not going away anytime soon. To the contrary, it is dropping its pretense of “moderation” and evidently organizing a counter-attack with the help of Hamas, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups bent on using terror to re-instate an Islamic state in Egypt. The Obama administration would do well to keep its eyes on the fighting in Sinai. This fighting, coordinated out of Gaza, may be the beginning of an Islamist maelstrom that threatens much more violence in Egypt and the further spread of fanatical jihadism in the region, as well as posing a serious security challenge to Israel next door.
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