Al Qaeda Flag
Al Qaeda FlagAFP photo

One of the largest terrorist groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula has joined Al-Qaeda.

The group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (“The Army of Islam in the Beit Al-Makdas Region”), has announced its loyalty to Al-Qaeda, and particularly, to the Al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq.

The group in question has carried out many attacks targeting Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. It has also attempted to attack Israel by infiltrating the border, shooting over the border, and firing rockets on Israeli towns.

If the ties between the Sinai group and Al-Qaeda prove stable, it will indicate the trend of growing Al-Qaeda strength in the states around Israel.

Israel’s defense leaders have previously expressed concern over Al-Qaeda’s strength among Syrian rebel groups, some of which have gained ground next to Israel’s northern border and the Golan.

A second Islamic group fighting the Egyptian army in the Sinai, the Al-Furkan Brigades, is ideologically close to Al-Qaeda, but not officially linked to the global terror network. The Al-Furkan Brigades released a video to YouTube this week with footage of some of its attacks on the Egyptian army, including the killing of a senior Air Force officer.

The video also showed the killing of an Egyptian civilian who was accused of cooperating with the army.