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By Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay

Egypt’s new rulers are faced with a terror problem emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, with the emergence of radical jihad groups. The U.S. and international community must support the Egyptian regime to prevent the radical Islamic groups from turning Egypt into the next Syria.

View from Mt. Sinai (123rf)
View from Mt. Sinai (123rf)

On December 24, 2013, deadly bombings hit Mansoura, in Egypt’s Nile Delta region, killing twelve and injuring 134, in Egypt’s worst terrorist attack since the July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of the explosion, saying the attack was aimed at obstructing a roadmap drawn up by the country’s interim regime following Morsi’s ouster. The final phase of the roadmap will begin after the referendum on the newly-drafted constitution, to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections. A cabinet spokesman blamed the blast on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, while el-Beblawi officially declared the group a terrorist organization.

iHLSIsrael Homeland Security

The jihad challenge to Egypt’s new rulers is still in its early stages, as the jihadists are still developing their skills and strategies. What began as opportunistic shooting attacks have now developed into suicide attacks and huge car bombings, a clear development of capability and strategy. The Egyptian authorities have to take in consideration that radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood can in the future open an armed internal front that can be a serious challenge to internal security and stability.

The U.S. and the international community must support the Egyptian regime in the war against terror, to prevent the different radical Islamic groups from turning Egypt into a theater of jihad like they did in Syria. Egypt needs stability, not a decent into chaos.

Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a former Deputy Head of the Israel National Security Council. He lectures at Bar-Ilan University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 230

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