The New York Times reports: They have slaughtered hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police officers, recruited experienced fighters and staged increasingly sophisticated raids from the Western desert to the Sinai Peninsula. They have beheaded informants and killed an American in a carjacking, say Western officials familiar with intelligence reports.
On Monday, Egypt’s most dangerous militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also pledged obedience to the organization that calls itself the Islamic State, becoming its first significant international affiliate in the bet that the link will provide new money, weapons and recruits to battle the government in Cairo.
The affiliation could pull the militant group away from its current, almost exclusive focus on attacking Egyptian military and security forces toward the Islamic State’s indiscriminate mass killings of civilians. The pledge alone could undermine the government’s efforts to win the trust of Western tourists, a vital source of hard currency.
The decision injects the Islamic State into the most populous and historically most influential Arab nation, a milestone weeks into an American-led bombing campaign against its strongholds in Syria and Iraq. The endorsement is a major victory for the Islamic State in its rivalry with Al Qaeda — a group with deep Egyptian roots — and could now help recruit fighters and affiliates far beyond Egypt. [Continue reading…]