A Ligyan intelligence document brought forth by Raymond Ibrahim last month seemed to implicate not just Ansar al-Sharia but the group’s Egyptian arm, in the attack in Benghazi on 9/11/12 that killed four Americans. Then Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi was named as well. Now that Mursi has been removed, guess who is threatening violence in response?
Ansar al-Sharia Egypt.
A new Islamist group has announced its formation in Egypt, calling the army’s ousting of President Mohamed Mursi a declaration of war on its faith and threatening to use violence to impose Islamic law.
Ansar al-Shariah in Egypt said it would gather arms and start training its members, in a statement posted on an online forum for militants in the country’s Sinai region on Friday and recorded by the SITE Monitoring organisation.
The army’s move, which was backed by mass rallies across Egypt, has raised fears Islamists could desert officially-recognised groups like Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and move to more militant movements.
Consider what Ibrahim reported about that intelligence document:
It (the document) discusses the preliminary findings of the investigation, specifically concerning an “Egyptian cell” which was involved in the consulate attack. “Based on confessions derived from some of those arrested at the scene” six people, “all of them Egyptians” from the jihad group Ansar al-Sharia (“Supporters of Islamic Law), were arrested.
Thomas Joscelyn at Long War Journal has more:
…there is already at least one group calling itself “Ansar al Sharia in Egypt.” The group is run mainly by former members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a terrorist organization headed by Ayman al Zawahiri that merged with al Qaeda. Mohammed al Zawahiri, Ayman’s younger brother, stars at the group’s events. And one of its co-founders, Ahmed Ashush, himself a former EIJ member, says he is “honored to be an extension of al Qaeda.” As we’ve reported, there are many other similar connections worth keeping in mind.
Joscelyn then entertains the possibility that these are two separate Ansar al-Sharia’s in Egypt:
So, is al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in the Sinai’s “Ansar al Sharia in Egypt” really a new group, or simply a branch of the aforementioned one? I don’t know the answer yet. The statement translated by SITE was not signed by any named ideologue, as far as I can tell. Nor was it released by Al Bayan Media Foundation, the propaganda arm of the already established Ansar al Sharia Egypt. I do know that Ashush’s Ansar al Sharia in Egypt has roots in the Sinai. Propaganda from other groups in the Sinai has featured Ashush, and Mohammed al Zawahiri has been active in the Sinai as well.
Furthermore, here is an intriguing lead: Muhammad Jamal revealed in his letters to Ayman al Zawahiri that he had set up operations in the Sinai. US intelligence officials previously contacted by The Long War Journal say that Jamal, also a former EIJ commander, made a significant amount of progress prior to his capture in late 2012. At least some of the violence in the Sinai can be traced to Jamal’s efforts, these officials say.
Jamal was a leader of the so-called Nasr City Cell, which Egyptian authorities say was plotting terrorist attacks inside Egypt and abroad. The group also has reported ties to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Some of Jamal’s trainees were directly involved in the attack, according to multiple published reports.
Ashush’s Ansar al Sharia Egypt and Mohammed al Zawahiri have forcefully defended the Nasr City Cell and Jamal.
We hate to quibble but does it make any difference? Seriously, the evidence that Mursi funded the Ansar al-Sharia that attacked Benghazi has become quite overwhelming to say the least. Now that Mursi has been removed, a group bearing the same name wants to fight in his defense?! Should we give two seconds thought to whether they’re the same group or not?
Do you remember the name Nader Bakar? We wrote about him back on September 13, 2012. It was he and his group that worked with Wisam Abdul Waris of Dar Al-Hekma (house of wisdom) in the days before the Benghazi attacks to decry defamation of Islam. At the time, the Innocence of Muslims video served as the lightning rod to exacerbate these claims.
Now, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Bakkar appears to be in the thick of the backlash against Mursi’s removal:
Nader Bakar of the ultraconservative Nour Party backed progressive Islamists during last year’s political campaigns but may be less inclined this time around to stifle aims of bringing the purest form of Islam into the politics of a country whose population is 90% Muslim.
As Egypt again braces for elections, Nour and other Salafi parties can be expected to advance their agendas against a revival of secular and moderate voices rising from an opposition backed by the army.
It is indeed noteworthy that the same individuals and groups involved in the 9/11/12 protests / attacks on American installations in the Middle East are beginning to surface in Egypt, in defense of Mohammed Mursi.