Islamic State chief in Sinai surrenders to Egyptian authorities

CAIRO — A high-profile Islamic State commander in Sinai has given himself as much as a tribal union loyal to the Egyptian navy, exposing doable cracks inside the group and probably placing invaluable data on the disposal of Cairo.

Mohamed Saad Kamel, also called Abu Hamza al-Qadi, turned himself in to the Association of Sinai Tribes on Sept. 10 after contacting association leaders. He obtained pledges from the association for his security and that of his spouse and three youngsters.

Qadi is the highest-ranking IS Sinai commander to show himself in to the authorities so far, suggesting the noose is tightening across the terrorist group within the Egyptian territory, which shares borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“There is close coordination between the army and Sinai tribes,” Sinai tribal chief Sami Kamel instructed Al-Monitor. “This advances the crackdown on the terrorist organization noticeably.”

The navy has been working a huge operation in northern and central Sinai since February 2018. Codenamed Sinai 2018, the operation entails all divisions of the navy, together with the air drive and the navy. Ground troops comb each inch of northern and central Sinai for IS militants, monitoring down dozens of militants and arresting or killing them.

On Aug. 1, Cairo stated it had killed 89 extremists and seized machine weapons, ammunitions and explosive units of their possession throughout operations in northern Sinai. On Aug. 13, the navy stated it had killed 13 extremists in northern and central areas of the peninsula.

The tightening grip of the navy and Sinai tribes loyal to it seems to be stopping IS militants from attacking navy checkpoints and camps and forcing the terrorist group to resort to untraditional ways, together with the planting of roadside bombs.

On Aug. 13, 9 cops have been killed and 6 others wounded when a roadside bomb strick their armored car in New Rafah, near the border with the Gaza Strip. The assault got here solely 13 days after IS militants attacked a safety checkpoint within the northern Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid, killing 5 troops and injuring six others.

These assaults and others present that IS remains to be alive, whilst navy troops and civilian police combat tooth and nail to defang the terrorist group.

The altering technique of IS, together with by means of growing dependence on the planting of bombs, reveals that the group is way weaker than it was a couple of years in the past. “There are some sleeper cells that are always ready to launch attacks,” safety analyst Nasr Salem instructed Al-Monitor. “Nevertheless, IS’ attacks bespeak marked deterioration in its capabilities and its gradual collapse.”

Security analysts like Salem attribute the weakening of the group to the success of the Egyptian counterterrorism technique in Sinai in addition to convincing Sinai tribes to hitch the anti marketing campaign.

When terrorism emerged as a menace to Egyptian safety in Sinai in 2013, the Sinai tribes remained on the sidelines, partially out of fear and partially as a result of among the terrorists have been tribesmen venting their anger in opposition to the Egyptian authorities for failing to develop Sinai and assist its residents. However, the tribes began turning in opposition to the terrorists after they intimidated and killed tribe members.

“Attacks by IS militants against the tribes — among other things — caused the tribes to start viewing them as an enemy,” analyst Muneer Adeeb instructed Al-Monitor. “The coming together of the military and the tribes will surely speed up the eradication of IS.”

The Association of Sinai Tribes brings collectively lots of the tribes of northern and central Sinai. Its members have gone past offering the navy with intelligence, together with details about the hideouts of the terrorists and potential assaults, to collaborating in counterterrorism operations and combating IS militants themselves.

On Sept. 14, the association shared a video exhibiting its anti-IS operations in components of Sinai. The video purportedly reveals members of the association killing IS militants.

Qadi was IS’ high jurist and sanctioned many of the main assaults by the terrorist group, together with an assault on a Sufi mosque within the northern Sinai village of al-Rawda in November 2017. The assault left over 200 individuals useless, over 75% of the village’s male inhabitants.

Qadi additionally licensed the killing of 9 truck drivers who labored for a cement manufacturing unit in northern Sinai in November 2017. His give up factors to cracks inside IS and might have a domino impact amongst IS militants, safety analysts say. They add that his give up will give the navy entry to essential details about the hideouts of the members of the terrorist group in addition to its provide routes.

IS used to get its provide of arms and militants by way of Egypt’s shared border with Libya. The terrorist group additionally will get provides and recruits from Gaza, the place jihadist teams give it backing.

“Terrorist organizations are always keen to shroud their financing sources and supplies in complete secrecy,” Adeeb stated. “This financing is the lifeline of any organization and its discovery spells the outright death of this organization.”

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