A state of fear dominates the North Sinai town of al-Arish in the wake of the terrorist attack yesterday, 16 October, which turned the city into a battleground, leaving three policemen and three civilians dead, and 17 injured. People opted for the security of their homes and refrained from going to work or sending their children to school, as the police combed the town for terrorists who might be hiding there, and civil authorities cleared the debris of the day before.
The Islamic militants had attacked the National Bank of Egypt in the heart of Arish, and ran off with EGP16 million. In the process, three civilians—two bank employees and a woman client—lost their lives.
According to security sources, the terrorists planted five bombs around the bank, but the police in charge of securing the bank were able to confront them. More than 15 armed terrorists riding a green pick-up truck and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) targeted other security squads around the city.
Qatari funding shrinks
Security experts were unanimous that the bank robbery indicated the Islamic militants were short of funds. Given that their funding sources were Qatar and Hamas, and that these two are no longer providing the required financing for the terrorist groups, they had to look for money elsewhere.
On the TV talk show al-Hayat al-Youm aired by al-Hayat satellite channel, a former executive with the Military Intelligence, Nasr Salem, said that the world map of fighting terrorism has altered to the detriment of the terrorist groups who can no longer fund their operations. He said that many well-trained terrorist elements would now be redundant, and find themselves pushed out of the arena. This, Mr Salem said, which would turn them into “thorns in the throats” of those who created them. In such cases, he said, it is common for the terrorist organisations to resort to suicidal operations which would simultaneously achieve two goals: losses for the enemy—in this case the Egyptian police and military—and ridding the organisation of large numbers of paid terrorists.
The Fateh-Hamas rapprochement predicament
For his part, Brigadier General Fouad Allam, member of the National Council for Battling Terrorism and former intelligence chief, explained that the recent conciliation brokered by Egypt between the Palestinian factions Fateh and Hamas implicitly meant that Hamas no longer funds Islamic militants in Sinai. The other major source of funding came from Qatar, General Allam said, and Qatar is now ‘besieged’ by the Saudi Egyptian Emirati coalition, restraining thus its capacity of funding the terrorists.
“Despite the lack of funding and the painful strikes by the Egyptian military,” General Allam said, “the Islamic militants in Sinai have not yet reached the point of despair. We have a long way to go on the path of battling terrorism.”
The Fateh-Hamas rapprochement has directly led to the ousting of Hamas groups and individuals who then formed new movements characterised by the utmost in deviance and savagery, and who aspire to join the militants in Sinai. I hope Hamas would round up the terrorist groups in Gaza to stem the tide of those going into Sinai.”
General Allam, who has extensive experience with security problems in Sinai, said that in order to adequately battle the terrorists in the Arish-Rafah-Sheikh Zuwayed triangle, it was necessary to evacuate the towns from civilians. He called for dialogue with the locals to debate this move.
Church guards attacked
During the 16 October Arish attack, the terrorists had assaulted the security squad stationed at Mar-Girgis (St George) church in Arish, but were not able to attack the church itself, since the security forces confronted them the help of the armoured vehicle permanently positioned in front of the church for security. The terrorist’s car blew up, but the heavily-guarded church incurred no damages.
Mar-Girgis’s was among the some 100 churches and Christian establishments nationwide assaulted, looted, and torched by the Muslim Brothers (MB) and their supporters on 14 August 2013, in the wake of the overthrow of the Islamist MB regime that came to power in 2012 following the 2011 Arab Spring.
[Avalanche of hate http://en.wataninet.com/egypt-arab-spring/egypt-post-30-june/avalanche-of-hate/1292/
The hidden report http://en.wataninet.com/egypt-arab-spring/egypt-post-30-june/the-hidden-report/14119/]
Back then, the Egyptian Armed Forces promised to repair and restore the ruined churches and buildings, and have kept good on their word. Work at Mar-Girgis’s in Arish, however, is taking more time than anticipated owing to the precarious security situation there.
Six military, 24 terrorists dead
Sunday 15 October, six army soldiers and 24 terrorists were killed as the Egyptian Armed Forces confronted attacks on army checkpoints at al-Qawadis, North Sinai. The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement denouncing this gruesome terrorist attack, and mourning the “courageous honourable martyrs of the nation, who paid with their lives to defend the nation against the vicious blows of terrorism.” The statement praised their resilience and heroism, together with their comrades in standing against gruesome terrorist attacks. The Church concluded its statement by highlighting that Egypt will forever remain a fortress that will abort enemies’ plots against it.
17 October 2017