CAIRO: Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) reportedly broadcast a video Tuesday, threatening army soldiers if they continued their crackdown on ‘jihadists.’
News websites picked up a video, attributed to the group, in which an alleged ABM leader named Ibrahim al-Rabish addressed soldiers, saying: “Soldier, I am not sure you’re fully aware of the crimes you commit, and if you are this is even a bigger crime, but you’re blindly following your leader, who is acting against God’s will.”
“Accordingly, you are considered an enemy of the Islam, like the crusaders were,” Rabish continued. The video did not show Rabish speaking, only a voice-recorded message, a photo of him and a caption which read: the jihadist Sheikh Ibrahim al-Rabish.
The ten-minute video included bits and pieces from numerous previously broadcast videos by several media outlets showing police and army brutality against civilians in the streets, during protests, inside police stations, and through video-taped testimonies.
Rabish also spoke of the “prisons which are full of jihadists, religious men, thinkers and students,” and security forces’ violence against protesters. “Then the blame is put on us for killing you, soldier, but the military murders people and destroys their families without being held accountable,” he continued.
The “leader” whom Rabish blames for “protecting the interests of the United States” is a clear reference to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Towards the end, a typed line in the video read: “Soldier, what would Sisi have done without you?”
At one point, the video showed an extremely violent scene where four men were taken out of a car and apparently told to lie down on the ground, before an Islamic State-like execution took place. Al-Masry Al-Youm said the men were soldiers.
There was another shot, taken from inside a car, of a soldier in a military uniform walking in the street, and then gunshots were heard. A masked man with a rifle is seen coming back into the car and the soldier lying on the ground in the background.
The video also showed pictures of the Farafra attack, which ABM had claimed responsibility for on July 21, according to an alleged online statement reported by Youm7. ABM has reportedly been using social media channels to release their statements.
On July 19, 22 border guards were killed in an armed attack on a checkpoint near Farafra Oasis. Investigations into the attack are yet to be concluded. Military spokesman Mohamed Samir released a statement on July 22 confirming that “terrorists” approached the checkpoint and began firing at it, hitting an ammunition store, which exploded.
The identity of the attackers or to which organizations they belong are as yet unknown. Al-Masry Al-Youm published a story around the same time suggesting the attack carried evidence of IS presence.
Neither those claims, nor the Tuesday ABM videos, have been backed with evidence. Security sources, however, have admitted the existence of “terrorists,” mainly in North Sinai, who they say are under the influence of a ‘takfiri’ ideology, in which “non-believers” are accused of apostasy.
The army’s continuing fight against extremist groups in Sinai has taken a violent turn, endangering the lives of local residents. In the past few weeks, news increased about mortar shells accidently hitting people’s homes, killing civilians and children, most recently injuring three boys on Monday in Rafah city, amid a security campaign on takfiri members.
“Rafah residents are not safe, and they are caught up in fights between militants and army forces,” Mohamed Hussein, a Sinai-based reporter, said to The Cairo Post in earlier statements.
On Aug. 4, medical sources in North Sinai told the press that a child was killed and four others injured, all members of the same family, in a rocket attack. The source of the rocket was not identified, but security raids were taking place the same day.
Four family members were killed, including two children, in another mortar explosion on July 26 in Rafah city.
Additional reporting by Samar Sayed.