The Egyptian government is moving forward in its campaign to eradicate the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis militant group and its alleged backers, the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian army attacked a weapons storage facility belonging to the group in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday; Ansar Bait al-Maqdis was intending to use the weapons for attacks on police and army officials, security sources told al-Arabiya news.
The militant group has killed hundreds of police and army officials in the last year, Egyptian government officials said.
Often said to be inspired by al-Qaeda, the militant group is largely considered the most dangerous in Egypt; the United States declared it a terrorist organization in April. On Saturday, 11 militants were killed in a military raid in the peninsula. Nearly 50 militants were killed in Sinai the week before when a police checkpoint was attacked.
Saturday’s raid also saw the destruction of three tunnels leading from Gaza to Sinai. There is speculation around the connection between Ansar Bait al-Maqdis and Hamas, as both groups share at least one ideological and political partner: the Muslim Brotherhood.
The two groups also share a common enemy: Israel. In February, the Egypt-based militants claimed they had fired rockets at Israel’s resort town Eliat, not far from the Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defense system.
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis was born during the 2011 Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The militants have been in almost constant conflict with the Egyptian government since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammad Morsi in 2013. Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December.