Egypt intel: Hamas provided Muslim Brotherhood safe haven in Gaza to plan terror ops

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim.

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim.

CAIRO — Egypt has determined that Muslim Brotherhood fighters were receiving weapons and combat training in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Officials said the Egyptian intelligence community was tracing the flow of Brotherhood members to and from the Gaza Strip.

The officials said the Brotherhood was granted at least two facilities in southern Gaza for training and planning operations in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“Despite repeated warnings, Hamas was allowing and in some cases aiding the Brotherhood terrorists,” an official said.

Officials said the Gaza Strip was also being used as a safe haven for the Brotherhood. They said Brotherhood fighters were learning weapons skills and the assembly of remote-controlled improvised explosive devices.

On April 17, the Egyptian Army captured 37 suspected Islamist fighters in northern Sinai. Two insurgents were killed in shootouts with army and Central Security Forces units around Sheik Zweid and El Arish.

Officials have identified at least one insurgency group as linked to the Brotherhood. The Interior Ministry determined that Ajnad Misr, which emerged in 2014 and claimed responsibility for eight bombings, was formed by a
Brotherhood leader. Ajnad was also believed linked to Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, deemed the most active insurgency group in Egypt.

“Call it Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, call it Ajnad Misr, either way, it is a Muslim Brotherhood militia, and the Brotherhood-era youth minister Osama Yassin was behind them,” Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said.

In a statement to Egypt’s independent daily Al Masri Al Yom, Ibrahim said Ajnad was an offshoot of Ansar. The minister said Ajnad, endorsed by Al Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri, stemmed from the Brotherhood-linked protest group, Students Against the Coup, which began operating after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Ajnad has released a 23-minute video on Facebook that included footage of attacks on Egyptian security forces. The group claimed responsibility for the assassination of a senior police officer outside Cairo University in early April.

Officials said Yassin was recruiting additional militias, some of them linked to Al Qaida in Libya. They cited the new Free Egyptian Army in Libya.

“State bodies are currently examining methods to handle what is called the Free Egyptian Army in Libya, which provides a fertile ground for the growth and birth of jihadist groups,” Ibrahim said.

Officials said the Brotherhood was also establishing connections with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. They said ISIL, through an intermediary identified only as Abu Suhail, was working with the Brotherhood in operations in Sinai.

“The link began even before Morsi’s ouster,” an official said. “ISIL showed the Brotherhood techniques in surveillance of military positions.”

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