Sinai Home to Growing Middle East Militancy
Egyptian security forces poured into this barren town after 16 border guards were killed by jihadists in an attack on a border post.
The raid was part of “Operation Eagle,” an Egyptian military campaign that the army said wiped out the “criminal elements” responsible for numerous attacks in this sparsely populated land of desert and mountains that borders Israel.
But the people of this remote desert town not far from the border with Israel say that didn’t happen. They say the security forces roughed up innocent people around a neighborhood mosque and left.
“They covered my eyes and tied my hands with rope and hit me,” said Khaled Abdel Malek Moharib, who was one of 10 men arrested in the town. “The police asked me about the mosque and who prays in the mosque.”
The Sinai Peninsula has become a base for arms smugglers and a way station for jihadists from Egypt and the Middle East looking to launch attacks on Israel, security experts say. The Bedouins who live here say the problem persists and apart from a few ineffective raids, the elected government of Egypt, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, is doing little to stop it.
“Operation Eagle is an eagle with clipped wings,” said Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank. “It’s no longer a question of capability; it’s a question of determination.”