The Militant and the Mufti

On August 5th, an assassination attempt targeted the country’s previous Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, only a day after the Army announced the death of Wilayat Sina’ (WS) leader Abu Duaa Al-Ansari.

This may be a mere coincidence, but the two events tie up nicely when we learn that WS have often portrayed Gomaa as an agent of the apostate state, vilifying and excommunicating him in their video messages. Gomaa was a soft target that would also send a strong political message to the state, while maintaining WS’s ongoing strategy of targeted assassinations, and attacks against military or police with the expressed intention of minimising civilian collateral damage.

If WS or one of its subservient cells is responsible, it would go to prove that security forces have not fully uprooted the organisation West of the Suez Canal, which frankly sounds more logical than the official state-line. It is true that the government made significant gains against the sleepers of WS in Sharqiya, Cairo and Kafr El-Sheikh over the previous year, but it is more likely that these cells remain extant, dormant and ready to carry out less sophisticated attacks such as that against Gomaa.

I remain of the opinion that WS has lost its pull against disenfranchised youth in the Nile Valley who would now most likely favour joining several MB inspired outfits springing here and there. However, WS still maintains appeal with former Jihadists of the 1990s and with radicalised military and police elements. What they need now, and what I believe they are plotting, is another resonating attack against an iconic target in mainland Egypt, akin to their attack on the Cairo or Mansoura Police headquarters last year. Such an operation would serve as a) retaliation against the gains the military are making in Northern Sinai, b) a recruitment gimmick for would-be Terrorists West of Suez, and c) a media extravaganza that would counter the state’s staving of information from Sinai.

Certain questions emanate from the Army’s announcement of the death of Abu Duaa Al-Anasri. First of which is: who the hell is he? And and why haven’t we heard of him before? That the Army is only referring to him by a previously unknown nom de guerre is a sign that a) the Army is making him up to increase the importance of its latest victory, or b) that the Army does not wish to enclose his true identity because he is in fact either one of their own ex-members, or one of the militants who were let out by the ruling SCAF during its hold in 2011/2012. My hunch is on b.

A striking remark made by the military spox when announcing the attack on August 4th was that it was based on “accurate intelligence”. Well of course it was. Why would any such attack be based on anything else? Is the Army in the habit of bombing houses near Al-Arish willy nilly? (Incidentally this is what WS constantly accuses the Army of doing).

Unless of course the spox was acknowledging that the intelligence was actually a tip-off, from a reliable source, a good friend, and that it wasn’t based on the Army’s own intelligence gathering. Intelligence from an ally who must in fact be consulted, by convention and treaty, before such an air assault can be conducted.

I only have the production of videos to go on, but since May WS has been receiving support and consolation messages from a large number of IS affiliates. From the “Wilayaat” of Damascus, Halab, Hamah, Nineweh, Hims, and the Arabian Peninsula, “brothers” have been voicing their encouragement to fighters in WS, asking them not only to withstand the hits they are receiving, but also to hold fast as the IS’s main bulwark against Israel. The videos were a sign that WS is actually under quite a beating, but also that an attack against Israel, perhaps with material support from other “provinces” may have been imminent.

Apprehension in Jerusalem, leads to a message in Cairo, a match made in heaven, against schemes wrought in hell, and the ex-Mufti is reduced to another chip on the table. Voila!




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