Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM)—also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-Sinai Province—is the most active and capable terrorist group operating in Egypt. ABM—which pledged allegiance to ISIL in November 2014, becoming ISIL’s Sinai Province—seeks the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic emirate and implementation of sharia in the Sinai Peninsula. The group is based in the Sinai but in fall 2013 expanded its operational reach into Egypt’s Nile Valley.
ABM emerged in 2011 when it claimed responsibility for a cross-border attack into southern Israel from the Sinai. Since 2011, ABM has carried out additional cross-border attacks, launched rocket attacks against Israel, and repeatedly bombed the gas pipeline in the Sinai that supplies natural gas to Israel and Jordan.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis flag
Following the August 2013 crackdown by Egyptian security forces on those protesting the ouster of President Muhammad Mursi, ABM launched a campaign of attacks against Egyptian government and security targets. ABM since then has claimed responsibility for several of the highest-profile and sophisticated attacks in Egypt, including an attempted assassination of the Egyptian Minister of the Interior, the downing of an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai with a surface-to-air missile, and several deadly vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks against Egyptian security installations. ABM for the first time demonstrated its willingness to target civilians when it claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a tourist bus in the Sinai in February 2014, though ABM described the attack as targeting Egyptian economic interests. The group also claimed responsibility for an August 2014 carjacking in Egypt’s western desert that killed a US oil worker. Since announcing its formal alignment with ISIL in late 2014, ABM has conducted several of its most lethal and sophisticated attacks to date and has continued to focus attacks primarily against Egyptian government and security targets. However, the group claimed responsibility for a June 2015 rocket and mortar attack against the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) base in the Sinai, the first terrorist attack against MFO facilities.
ABM has not made explicit threats against the West or Western targets in its official propaganda. However, the group views the West, and the United States in particular, as supporters of Israel and Egypt and expresses anti-Western sentiment in its rhetoric. Various social media accounts claiming association with the group have posted threats to US and other Western targets, although ABM has repeatedly denied a social media presence.
The US State Department designated ABM as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in April 2014. The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control has designated several ABM-affiliated persons and groups as Specially Designated Nationals.