Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Arabic: أنصار بيت المقدس Anṣār Bayt al-Maqdis, “Supporters of the Holy House “), or Ansar Jerusalem (“Supporters of Jerusalem”) was the name of a jihadist group based in Egypt; many Sinai-based members swore allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and most of the group became a branch of ISIL, renaming itself ISIL-Sinai Province. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis emerged as an extremist militant group after the 2011 Egyptian revolution, with its operations increasing in the wake of the 2013 Egyptian coup d’etat which deposed President Mohamed Morsi. The group declared the Egyptian army and police apostates that can be killed. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by Egypt, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The group was believed to have been the main group behind the militant activity in the Sinai. The group recruited Bedouinsas well as other Egyptians and people of other nationalities. Ten leaders from the group were reported to have escaped from the Sinai to Gaza and Masa Matrouh in late 2013. During 2014, the group sent emissaries to ISIL in Syria to seek financial support, weapons and tactical advice. On 10 November 2014, many members of the group took an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Following this pledge, ISIL supporters within the group formed an official branch of ISIL in the region.
Ansar’s first leader until shortly after 11 September 2001 was Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i.
Mullah Krekar in 2001 replaced Shafi’i as leader of Ansar, Shafi’i became his deputy. After Mullah Krekar left for Norway in 2003, Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i was again the leader of Ansar al-Islam.
On May 4, 2010 Abu Abdullah al-Shafi’i was captured by US forces in Baghdad. On December 15, 2011 Ansar al-Islam announced a new emir, Sheikh Abu Hashim al Ibrahim. Ansar al-Islam initially comprised approximately 300 men, many of them veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War, and a proportion being neither Kurd nor Arab. During its stay in the Biyara region near the Iranian border, there were allegations of logistical support from “powerful factions in Iran.”
Campaign of violence:
- The group has bombed the pipelines that carry gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan multiple times.
- The group claimed responsibility for the attack on Israeli troops in September 2012.
- The group claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on the minister of interior Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa that occurred in September 2013.
- The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a military intelligence building in Ismailia in October 2013.
- On 20 November 2013, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mohamed Mabrouk, a security officer involved in the trial against Mohamed Morsi, who was shot dead outside his home in Nasr City on 17 November.
- A police compound in Mansoura was bombed by the group on 24 December 2013, killing at least 16 people, including 14 police officers.
- On 31 January 2014, a rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula aimed at Eilat. The Iron Dome system intercepted the rocket. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis took responsibility for the launch.
- The organization claimed responsibility for an attack in Eilat, Israel which occurred on 20 January 2014; no damage or injuries were reported.
- The group took responsibility for an attack on a police checkpoint in Beni Suef on 23 January 2014 that killed 5 people.
- The group claimed responsibility for the January 2014 Cairo bombings that took place in late January 2014, though it later indicated that the Soldiers of Egypt group was behind one of the bombings.
- Claimed responsibility for the shooting down of a military helicopter in the Sinai that occurred on 25 January 2014.
- Claimed responsibility for the assassination of Mohamed Al-Saied (who was a member of Egypt’s Interior Ministry) that occurred on 28 January 2014.
- The organization claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on Eilat, Israel which occurred on 31 January 2014; the rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system.
- Claimed responsibility for the 16 February 2014 Taba bus bombing that killed four people, including three Korean tourists and an Egyptian bus driver. The group warned all tourists to leave Egypt before 20 February 2014.
- The group claimed responsibility for attacks that killed 3 people in the Sinai that occurred on 2 May 2014.
- The group released a video on 28 August 2014 showing the beheading of 4 Egyptians accused of being Mossad spies and providing Israel with intelligence.
- The group claimed responsibility in late September 2014 for killing 6 security personnel.
- On 8 October 2014, a faction of the group in the Gaza Strip calling itself the Islamic State of Gaza launched a bombing attack on the French Cultural Center in the city of Gaza, only to issue a statement several hours later denying any responsibility for the attack.
- The group released a graphic propaganda video claiming responsibility for the 24 October 2014 Sinai attacks that killed 28 soldiers northwest of the town of Arish. The group is also responsible for a drive-by shooting several hours later at a checkpoint in Arish that killed three soldiers.