In breaking news this morning, NDTV reported that ISIS is claiming responsibility once again for an attack, this time in the outskirts of Cairo, where eight policemen were killed. ISIS released a statement on social media in which they were claiming responsibility for the shooting in the Helwan district by four gunmen who sprayed the police van with bullets from automatic rifles.
The Egyptian branch of ISIS is the group claiming the attack, and they have started an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen. In the Egyptian group's statement, they said that "a squad of the soldiers of the caliphate" opened fire on the van and took their weapons after killing them. Apparently, the attack was in retaliation for "the pure women imprisoned" in Egyptian jails.Christian Today reported that the policemen were in plain clothes, and the four ISIS attackers pulled up next to the van in a pick-up truck and opened fire. Residents of Helwan who witnessed the attack told Reuters that the gunmen wore masks. The insurgency deaths have been mainly in northern Sinai since 2013, when Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after mass protests called for his removal, as mentioned in the CT article. CT also elaborated that the statement claiming responsibility for the attacks was in Arabic and said the attack in Helwan was part of its Abu Ali al-Anbari campaign, in which the group has carried out bombings and other attacks in Iraq. There was no clear reason why Egypt was linked to the Iraqi campaign except for the statement above about imprisoned women, but no details were revealed. Al-Azhar, a center for Islamic learning in Cairo, condemned the attack, calling it a "terrorist attack the likes of which contradict Islamic teachings." Al-Azhar also offered its support for Egypt's security forces.
The Egyptian affiliate of ISIS claiming responsibility for the deaths calls itself the Sinai Province and operates mainly out of northern Sinai, which borders Israel, the Gaza strip, and Suez canal. The Sinai Province was originally an Egyptian militant group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis who changed their name when they changed their allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014. Although attacks in Cairo have been rare, ISIS militants in Egypt have targeted security forces and planted bombs in Cairo and other areas in Egypt.Last July, the Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the bombing of an Egyptian Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea with a rocket, and about 64 Egyptian soldiers were killed in the northern Sinai Peninsula. These attacks came a day after the president of Egypt pledged to step up the battle against Islamic militants. Two days before that attack, the state prosecutor of Egypt was killed in Cairo, which is the capital of Egypt. That attack also caused Israel to close two border crossings, and Israel's defense forces began monitoring the events happening in Egypt. These attacks were just two out of many other attacks made by the ISIS group in Egypt. In an update by NDTV, it was said that ISIS jihadists have repeatedly tried to make inroads into Cairo, where police have been more successful in stopping them. The more recent militant attacks have been hit-and-run attacks on policemen in Cairo and small-scale bombings. The militants claim they are attacking in retaliation for a bloody crackdown by police on Islamist supporters of Morsi. Hundreds of protesters have been killed and thousands have been imprisoned during the crackdown. The Pentagon stated last month that it was "fully committed" to the mission (to monitor a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt), but Washington has said it would cut U.S. troops due to the ISIS threat in Egypt.
Do you feel enough is being done to combat ISIS and their terror reign in the Middle East? Please feel free to comment below!
[Photo by Mohsen Nabil/AP Images]