Cairo - SIS
Terrorists celebrate New Year’s Eve in their own special way through bloodshed and taking innocent lives. This is exactly what they have done 2 days ago with their wicked attack in the Mariouteya area in Giza that left 4 dead (1 Egyptian tour guide and 3 Vietnamese tourists) and 12 wounded.
However, a thorough reading into the evolution of terrorism in Egypt and the war its waging on Egyptian State and society during the last few years in general and 2018 in particular shows us that there are major changes that all confirm the fact that terrorism is receding and is approaching its ultimate defeat.
The changes and shifts we have documented are as follows:
1. The terrorists’ plan to create an atmosphere of fear, panic and social strife between Egyptians has failed. The terrorist attacks have backfired against the terrorists as it has attracted positive confrontation from the populace. Among examples of the popular reaction are, the people’s solidarity with the families of the victims of Al Rawda mosque massacre and the residents of Helwan confronting and actually subduing of the armed terrorist who attacked the Mar Mina Church; this highlights the ordinary citizen’s willingness to fearlessly confront and fight terrorism.
2. The Comprehensive Military Operation led by the Egyptian Armed Forces against terrorist groups led to a sizable decrease of terrorist activities and in the number of attacks. 2018 witnessed the smallest number of attacks in the past 5 years. Only 8 attacks took place in 2018, 5 of them were primitive IED attacks and some of them failed to achieve their sordid aims. This shows that the frequency and number of terrorist attacks has subsided to a great extent in comparison with previous years, as we have witnessed 222 attacks in 2014, 199 attacks in 2016 and 50 attacks in 2017. Naturally the number of victims of terrorism has decreased due to the fall in the number of attacks and this is concrete proof of the success of the Comprehensive Military Operation.
3. Operation Sinai 2018 has compelled terrorist groups to make major changes to their methods of executing attacks, and the nature of their targets which has in turn exposed their weakness. In 2017 terrorist groups were forced to resort to suicide bombings in greater quantities, this indicates that the success of security operations against them forced them to sacrifice their lives in order to prove that they are still present. In 2018 terrorist groups have returned to using weak and hardly effective IEDs and they have failed to successfully carryout 2 of their 8 attacks in 2018.
The Comprehensive Operation (Sinai 2018) and Counterterrorism efforts
The Comprehensive Military Operation Sinai 2018 has successfully destroyed terrorism’s infrastructure like hideouts, tunnels, weapon depos and Media centers. 1200 IEDs were found disarmed, 420 cannabis farms were destroyed and 16 tunnels on the border with Gaza were also destroyed. That in addition to the destruction of 1086 vehicles and 1000 motor bikes used by terrorists, the neutralization of over 500 militants and the capture of hundreds more. Among the elements detained during the operation were terrorists, suspected terrorists, wanted criminals who have court verdicts issued against them. The captured terrorists were referred to the prosecution for investigation while the wanted criminals were sent to serve their sentences in prison. The comprehensive operation is not only limited to the Sinai, it extended to other strategic areas on the western and southern borders.
Throughout the past 10 months of the Comprehensive Military Operation Sinai 2018 the Egyptian Armed forces have accomplished several strategic objectives on all three fronts:
1. Our troops have successfully neutralized first and second line leadership figures in the ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sinai formerly Known as Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis. The latest of such leading terrorists that were neutralized was the leader of the group Abu Osama Al Masri and other leaders namely Khairat Al Sobki, Mohamed Gamal, Islam Weam and several others. This had a very negative impact on the structural viability of the group and its ability to carry out attacks.
2. All branches of the Armed Forces along with the Egyptian Police are taking part in operation Sinai 2018. This operation has several dimensions including direct confrontation and border security. The Border Guards and the Navy have successfully established their control over sea and land borders, and this was partially due to an agreement with Hamas on border control in the case of the eastern border with the Gaza strip. The Armed Forces successfully destroyed several tunnels that were used to smuggle arms, ammunition, funds and terrorists.
3. The massacre of the Al-Rawda mosque in Bir Al-Abed carried out by “Wilayat Sinai” terror group in November 2017, which left more than 300 people dead, encouraged citizens to diligently cooperate with Egyptian security forces in confronting terrorist elements in the Sinai. This has contributed to empowering the security forces to direct attacks that severely impacted the structure of terrorist groups and extremist elements, not only on the level of killing leadership and elements of those groups, but it also resulted in paralyzing the groups and the terrorist elements affecting their ability to move easily.
Analyzing the course of terrorist operations in Sinai and the results of the comprehensive military operation (Sinai 2018), we can conclude two main observations:
1) There is a significant decrease in the number of terrorist operations in Sinai during 2018 compared to the previous four years.
2) The decline of terrorist operations is coincided with a clear decline in the number of victims from the army and police forces in Sinai during 2018 compared to the previous four years.
The collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood and its failure to commit its crimes
The military and the security services, especially the police forces, have besieged and weakened groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, namely “Hasm” and “Liwaa al-Thawra” all over Egypt (the valley and the delta) in 2018. This is due the preemptive strikes they have carried out both in terms of arresting terrorist elements and targeting hideouts, particularly in the Western desert and some new cities on the outskirts of Cairo. On the other hand, the procedures and financial policies that have consolidated the control over the transfer of funds from abroad to Egypt, attributed to the Central Bank and other concerned parties, have led to the reduction of the financing of these groups. In addition, the State’s confiscation of most economic and commercial establishments belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood has significantly reduced the financial resources necessary to carry out terrorist operations, and accordingly led to the decline of terrorism in Egypt during 2018 compared to the previous four years.
The last terrorist attack to be carried out by “Hasm” the targeting of a police car on a road near Maadi in mid-2017. Additionally, the spokesman of the “Hasm” terrorist group has declared on 5 September 2018 that the movement has been affected by the security raids that paralyzed its ability to continue. Also, the “Liwaa al-Thawra” terrorist group, which announced its establishment in October 2016 after the assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragai, has almost disappeared and carried out only one terrorist attack in 2017. This was thanks to successive blows they have received from security forces.
Attacks against State infrastructure (such as electricity, water, etc.) and the economic establishments as well vanished in 2018.
Most of the terrorist operations in 2018 were based on random elements or what we can call "lone wolves". This was shown in some terrorist operations that took place at the end of 2017, such as the attack on a liquor store in Omrania district, Giza governorate that left 2 civilians dead and the latest attack in Al Mariouteya district.
Preemptive strikes ...The keyword of aborting terrorist schemes
Given the strong and direct influence of the comprehensive operation (Sinai 2018), the year 2018 has witnessed the implementation of a series of successful security operations in which the police forces carried out preemptive operations that aborted terrorist schemes in their early stages due to their high efficiency in tracking and information gathering on those terrorists’ groups:
· In April 2018, the security forces killed seven members of ISIS terrorist group in Abnoub in the eastern desert.
· In June 22, security forces targeted a terrorist hideout and killed seven terrorists involved in targeting Christian houses of worship.
· In June 28, security forces killed six terrorists involved in the assassination attempt of the security chief of Alexandria governorate.
· In July 2018, security forces attacked a terrorist hideout and killed six terrorists in Dirout, Asyut Governorate.
· In October 27, security forces killed 13 terrorists near KM 74 on the Asyut road.
· In November 4, security raids have resulted in the killing of 19 terrorists in Minya governorate foiling their plans to carryout acts of sabotage.
· In November 28, security forces dismantled a terror cell in Sinai, killing 11 terrorists and arresting 6 others. Besides, they confiscated high-frequency radio sets.
· In December 8, security forces dismantled the terror cell responsible for the attack on the bus carrying Christian worshipers heading to the Monastery of Saint Sameul last November, killing 19 terrorists involved in targeting the bus, in the western desert of Minya governorate.
· On 23 December, the National Security Agency have detected a terrorist hideout. The terrorists were planning to carry out a series of terrorist attacks against vital installations and members of the armed forces and the police in one of the remote areas of El-Arish. Security forces raided the hideout and clashes ensued for a few hours resulting in the killing of 14 terrorists.
· In December 29, hours after the terrorist attack against the tourist bus in Giza, the Ministry of Interior raided a number of terrorist hideouts in the governorates of North Sinai and Giza and directed several strikes against terrorist elements planning to carry out a series of deadly attacks targeting State institutions, the economy and the tourism sector, in addition to plotting to target police officers and Christian houses of worship. 40 terrorists were killed in the clashes.
Efforts to combat terrorism have intensified in Egypt achieving remarkable and significant results that broke terrorist groups and aborted their schemes and accordingly, reduced the number of terrorist attacks and the amount of victims in 2018 to the lowest level in nearly five years, the same year in which a large number of countries in the world witnessed a variety of terror operations.