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ISIS in Egypt: More Than Meets the Eye

Is Hamas cooperating with ISIS in Sinai, or threatened by it? Should Israel be worried? And how might the Turkish government be involved?

By Ari Soffer

ISIS’s escalating campaign against the Egyptian government – culminating in the assassination of the country’s chief prosecutor and yesterday’s bloody attacks in the Sinai Peninsula – have raised a great deal of questions vis-a-vis the extent and nature of the jihadist group’s presence in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Is ISIS’s Egyptian branch – the so-called “Sinai Province” of its “Islamic State” – cooperating with Hamas, or trying to overthrow it? How has ISIS in Sinai managed to withstand a prolonged military assault by the Egyptian army to emerge apparently as strong as ever? How much of a threat does it pose to Israel? Could ISIS really be in a position to carve out a de-facto state in Egypt, as it has in parts of neighboring Libya?

In answering these questions Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center For Strategic Studies (BESA), cautions that ISIS’s battle with Egypt is far more complicated than its operations in other countries.

For a start, the Egyptian army and government present a far tougher foe than any other targeted directly by an official ISIS affiliate.

“It’s all very well taking over parts of Syria or Iraq,” both failed states without effective central government, “but in Egypt they are fighting against a functioning state,” albeit a somewhat embattled one.

In Libya too, where ISIS has set up a mini statelet…..


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