Ajnad Misr: Demon or distraction?
The perpetrators of attacks targeting police checkpoints and security installations in Egypt often remain a mystery, other than those claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a jihadist group based on the Sinai peninsula.
By the end of January, however, this mystery was beginning to unravel – as a previously little-known group calling itself Ajnad Misr [“Soldiers of Egypt”] claimed responsibility for a number of attacks.
But who they are, and who they work for, remains unclear. Despite targeting regime resources, some supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi within the National Coalition for Legitimacy claim the group is a product of intelligence agencies, and is carrying out operations on behalf of the administration.
|Ajnad Misr has said that it will not spare any members of the security forces|
Such conspiratorial conjecture is common here, as unproven allegations of “false-flag” operations fly freely.
Two days ago, the group warned of an explosive device it had planted at the Itihadiya Presidential Palace, targeting a meeting of security officials. The group said it could not detonate the bomb because people “in plain clothes” approached. The operation was cancelled when they couldn’t tell if the people in the vicinity were part of the security apparatus, or were innocent civilians.
The Ajnad Misr group announced its formation on 24 January Before then, the group was briefly alluded to as an emerging entity in an Ansar Beit al-Maqdis statement.
The group, whose small-scale operations appear to show it was formed with limited resources, says it has carried out several attacks, concentrated around the Cairo area, particularly Giza.
In its founding statement, the group launched a campaign named “Vengeance is life”, targeting police stations and other buildings operated by security forces in a bid to avenge the more than 1,000 people killed in the crackdown on the Morsi-supporting Raba’a al-Adaweya and al-Nahda sit-ins.
“In the bygone era, the regime’s apparatuses and all their components have been raised to abuse and humiliate the people, as well as to prevent them from leading a decent life and to create a rift between the people and their religion,” read the group’s founding statement. “The people started their blessed revolution in order to liberate themselves from the authority and tyranny of those apparatuses, overthrowing their head and removing a number of their leading figures. However, our revolution and the uprooting of corruption is yet to be completed.”
One of the attacks claimed by the group targeted a police installation near the Aboud tunnel on 20 November 2013, another hit a police station in the Sawah area five days later.
On 7 January, 2014, it attacked a checkpoint on the July 26 Corridor in Giza. They also targeted state security forces in the Behooth area and the Talibiya police station on 24 January.
A week later, the group claimed responsibility for detonating two bombs at a state security camp on the Alexandria desert road.
Ajnad Misr has said that it will not spare any members of the security forces. They demonstrated this yet again on 7 February by detonating two explosive devices targeting state security officers on the Giza Bridge. The group also claimed responsibility for targeting Cairo University security forces with three explosions.
Its future direction remains unclear, as does its true objectives and motivations – considerations that are all too common in today’s Egypt.
This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition