Until now, 2020 has been an active year for ISIS – Wilayat Sinai, which claimed over 100 attacks. Almost all of them took place in the Sinai Peninsula, the vast majority of them remain concentrated in the eastern part of the province, near the Gazan border. Unlike last year, some of the attacks took place in the area around Bir al-Abd to the west, on the routes toward the Suez Canal, and 12 of them near the village of Rawda.
Although, most of them targeted security forces and military equipment, with roadside IEDs, those were based on civilians, tourists, and security personnel in mainland Egypt remained a concern.
More than a third of these attacks have been carried out with improvised explosive devices, but most coordinated feature light weaponry with suicide IEDs, though the group does occasionally employ rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
During this year were reported kidnapping cases and executions of those accused of cooperation with the military. One of the most well-known, but as-yet unclaimed case was the May 18 raid in the village of Qabir Omair near Sheikh Zuweid, militants botched an attempt to kidnap villagers suspected of working with security forces and opened fire on a family breaking fast, killing three.
The Egyptian military forces has enlisted the help of civilians in the area, including some of the southern parts of Sinai, like Hasakah. They use the frustrations of the locals with the insurgents and cooperate with them in matter of intelligence and providing arms and financial resources. This cooperation mirrors some tribal dynamics in Sinai, showing that some tribes have given material or symbolic support to the military’s efforts, others have shifted alliances at different points in the conflict, and still others have remained more neutral. The most active and visible tribesmen have been the most targeted by the Wilayat Sinai in retaliation.
Although it is difficult to get accurate information on the numbers of attacks and fatalities in North Sinai, this kind of data can be taken from the Islamic State media – the Naba weekly newsletter provides numbers for casualties. The main problem with the data form this source is the fact that the numbers submitted by them are higher than in reality. So, according to them, since the beginning of the year there are 234 casualties in the province. They provide maps, statistics and charts regarding their activities, like the following:
Despite measures taken by the Egyptian government – such as establishing parameters to identify individuals vulnerable to recruitment and offering training and religious guidance to inmates – concerns persisted that Egyptian prisons continue to be a fertile environment for terrorist.
Another reasons for the expansion and stability of the Wilayat Sinai, are the political instability, the social situations and the rate of poverty from Egypt.
In order to eliminate the influence of ISIS from Sinai, the Egyptian authorities must submit additional efforts, including the Egyptian people, and, also to harden the cooperation with others international actors from the region, and not only.