Egypt Arrests Al-Qaeda Head in Sinai

Muhammad Ibrahim, commander of an Al-Qaeda-linked group in the Sinai peninsula, arrested in ambush by security forces.

Elad Benari ,

Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula
Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula
AFP photo

Egyptian forces on Saturday arrested the commander of an Al-Qaeda-linked group in the Sinai peninsula, officials told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

A senior Egyptian official said that Muhammad Ibrahim, 40, was appointed as the leader of Al-Qaeda in Sinai after escaping from prison following the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Ibrahim, also known as Adel Habbara, was driving a truck from Rafiah to El-Arish when he was ambushed by Egyptian security forces, according to Ma’an.

"He tried to reach for two grenades in his pocket, but an officer jumped at him and bowled him over before other officers controlled him and grabbed the grenades," the official said.

Ibrahim was traveling with two other gunmen at the time of his arrest.

Egyptian authorities accuse Ibrahim of masterminding the 2005 attack on the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed some 88 people.

He is also accused of planning the August 2012 attack which killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in Rafiah, and is believed to have personally executed soldiers in an attack earlier this month in which 25 soldiers were killed.

The Sinai has become increasingly lawless since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and the terror attacks have only increased since the removal of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July. Egypt's army is currently engaged in an offensive in Sinai to curtail the surge in violence.

Since Morsi was ousted, Muslim Brotherhood-linked Gaza terrorists have been infiltrating the Sinai to attack Egyptian army outposts.

The army has been sealing the smuggling tunnels which are used to transfer goods, weapons and terrorists between the Sinai and Gaza. Hundreds of tunnels, however, remain open and active under the border between Egypt and Gaza.

On Sunday, Egyptian forces destroyed 13 homes next to the border with Gaza, in order to prevent the use of the houses as cover for smugglers into and out of the region.