CAIRO: Al-Masry Al-Youm and Youm7 reported Saturday that according to unnamed security sources, 15 members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were arrested by security forces Friday in North Sinai.
The media reports claimed ISIL members were caught trying to enter Egypt through illegal underground tunnels between Rafah and the Gaza Strip with the help of armed groups.
ISIL is the current iteration of the previous jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and is known to operate in Iraq and Syria. ISIL was previously aligned with Al-Qaeda, but the two parted ways in February 2014 according to numerous media reports.
ISIL’s roughly 5,000 members in recent weeks have been in an intense, headline-grabbing military campaign to seize territory in western and northern Iraq and are also active in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
The goal of the alleged ISIL members arrested in Sinai was not immediately clear in any Egyptian media report, nor was it explained how they managed to bypass at the minimum Israeli and Palestinian security and likely Jordanian authorities as well.
However, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Jihadist group based mainly in the Sinai, is known to be active in Egypt. The group, founded in 2011, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including the assassination of Gen. Mohamed al-Saied on Jan. 28, 2014 and the attempted assassination of Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim in September 2013.
The group was designated a terrorist group in April by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters.