Sinai Group Denies Leader was Killed

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denies Egyptian officials' claims that its leader was shot dead in an ambush.

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Elad Benari,

Bus explosion claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis
Bus explosion claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist group based in the Sinai Peninsula, denied Sunday that its leader has been killed, days after security sources said the group's commander Shadi al-Menei had been shot dead in an ambush.

According to AFP, the group also denied Menei was its leader, in a statement published on Islamist Internet forums accompanied by a picture of him reading a report about his "death" on a laptop.

The picture could not be immediately authenticated.

"As the military suffers losses in its ranks, it claims illusory great victories," the statement said, according to AFP.

"They announced that they killed Shadi al-Menei and that he was the emir (leader) of the group. He was neither killed nor was the emir."

The al-Qaeda-inspired group has previously announced the deaths of its operatives and senior commanders, sometimes even before the authorities did.

It said in Sunday’s statement the authorities have not even identified its leader, who the group said "is safe."

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for a slew of terror attacks in Egypt since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Among the attacks claimed by the group was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 

The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Egypt's military-backed interim government has blamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group for the violence, outlawing it and calling it a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the violence.