In Egypt’s Sinai Desert, Islamic Militants Gaining New Foothold
ast areas of Egypt’s Sinai desert have descended into lawlessness in recent months, providing fertile ground for small cells of extremist militants that have emerged from the shadows and quietly established training camps near the Israeli border, according to Bedouin elders and security experts.
The militants include men who have fought in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years, as well as Islamists who were released from prison after the 2011 popular revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and drove much of his potent security apparatus underground.
Drawing little notice during a period of dramatic developments in Cairo, the militants have become increasingly bold and visible amid a broader breakdown of security in the strategically important desert, a buffer zone between Israel and Egypt. The eclipse of authority has also given rise to Sharia courts run by Islamic scholars who settle disputes according to Islamic law.