by Ludovico Carlino
At least 12 people were killed and 10 injured in Egypt's southwestern desert on 13 September 2015 when security forces mistakenly fired on a group of Mexican tourists
EVENTIn Egypt's Western Desert, on 13 September, the Islamic State claimed an ambush of an army patrol and the execution of an alleged army spy.
- This is the first attack officially claimed by the Islamic State in the Western Desert, and it reflects the group's strategy to expand its operational reach and presence beyond Sinai.
- The Islamic State is likely to use smuggling networks in the border area with Libya to establish a foothold in the Western Desert. If it succeeds in doing so, it would raise the risk of a two-front insurgency in the Western Desert and Sinai, severely overstretching the security forces.
- The likely consolidation of Islamic State groups in eastern Libya and western Egypt would raise the risk of attacks against energy assets in the Western Desert and in Beni Suef.
The Islamic State's expansion in EgyptThe Islamic State fi Misr (in Egypt) released a statement on 13 September claiming that its militants ambushed a patrol of the "apostate" Egyptian Army in an unspecified area of the Western Desert, publishing purported pictures of the fighting and of militant convoys. The group also claimed the beheading of an Egyptian it accused of co-operating with the army. The corpse was later crucified on a tree, according to pictures posted on social media. These are the first attacks that the Islamic State has officially claimed in the Western Desert and west of Cairo, marking a new strategic development.
The Islamic State's roots in Egypt are in Sinai, where Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (which in October 2014 pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq formally becoming the group's Sinai wilaya, or province) has been active since its establishment in 2011. The group has been waging a relentless insurgency against the Egyptian Army focused on the north Sinai Peninsula since 2013, although recent operations claimed in Cairo and south of Suez indicate that the group has also acquired the capability to operate west of the Suez Canal.
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