by WorldTribune Staff, May 23, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is using the Sinai Peninsula as a “steppingstone” for attacks against Israel, according to a report by national security correspondent Rowan Scarborough.
The terrorist organization has launched a propaganda campaign to recruit jihadists for a force in Sinai large enough to take over Jerusalem.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned last week that ISIL has as many as 1,000 jihadists in Sinai and the U.S. faces another war front against the the terror group in addition to Iraq, Syria and Libya.
“I think ISIS sees the Sinai as a steppingstone for launching greater attacks against Israel, which would boost its claim to primacy in championing the Arab/Muslim cause against Israel, an issue that strongly resonates with many Arab Islamists,” said Jim Phillips, a Middle East analyst at The Heritage Foundation. “The Sinai cells also pose a long-term threat to Egypt, a key state with the largest Arab population. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but terrorists love them.”
In its message to recruits, ISIL propaganda claims they will one day “liberate” Jerusalem and end the state of Israel, according to analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) that was cited in the Washington Times report.
One propaganda video “noted that ISIL in Sinai has learned from the experience of ISIL in Anbar (Iraq) as the two areas are similar in terms of desert geography,” said Steve Stalinsky, executive director of MEMRI.
“They have been calling Egyptians and Gazans to join them. They believe that ISIL in Sinai will be the gate towards the liberation of Palestine.”
ISIL needs more firepower in Sinai if it is to repeat its success in Anbar, where it captured a number of towns including the disputed Fallujah, after invading Iraq.
“Their strategy now in the Sinai is basically hit-and-run kind of attacks,” Stalinsky said.
Egyptian forces in Sinai are hit by those attacks almost daily. The Egyptian military said that it conducted a series of raids in Sinai this past weekend that killed 51 ISIL jihadists, according to the Arab news site Al Bawaba.
“ISIL leadership views the Sinai province as a key extension for the organization outside of its core area of control in Syria and Iraq,” MEMRI said. “Indeed, the Sinai province is considered one of the most powerful and effective among these extensions.”