October 4, 2012 | FDD's Long War Journal

2 Islamist Militants Arrested in Sinai by Egyptian Forces

David Barnett

On Oct. 1, two Islamist militants were arrested by Egyptian forces near the city of el-Arish in the North Sinai governorate. The militants, who have since been transferred to Cairo, reportedly threw a grenade as authorities attempted to carry out the arrests, according to Ma'an News Agency. The arrests come just a few days after an Egyptian policeman was stabbed by a suspected jihadist in el-Arish.

Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, a number of Salafi jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda have sprouted up in the Egyptian Sinai, including, but not limited to: al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula; the Mujahideen Shura Council; Ansar Jerusalem; and Jund al Sharia. The terror groups have conducted attacks against Israel, UN peacekeepers in the Sinai, Egyptian forces, and a pipeline transporting natural gas to Israel and Jordan.

Just over a week ago, members of the jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem attacked Israeli soldiers along the border with Egypt. An Israeli soldier was killed and another was wounded after the terrorists opened fire. Israeli troops killed three terrorists while returning fire; at least one was wearing a suicide vest.

Although some observers suggest that there are only “tens of armed Jihadists” in the Sinai, the issue does not appear to have an end in sight. As a result, concern has arisen among a number of countries, including Egypt, Israel, the United States, and Great Britain.

According to the London-based Al-Hayat, during a recent meeting between Britain's Lieutenant General Simon Vincent Mayall and Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sidqy Sobhy, Mayall reiterated that Britain was ready and willing to provide military advice to Egypt in its operations against jihadists in the Sinai.

For more information on al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups operating in the Egyptian Sinai, see LWJ reports, Mujahideen Shura Council calls attack in Israel a 'gift' to Zawahiri and al Qaeda 'brothers' and Ansar al Jihad swears allegiance to al Qaeda's emir; and Threat Matrix report, New jihadist group emerges in the Egyptian Sinai.