Islamic State Egyptian affiliate stays busy, claims hotel bombing

Following up on the October 31st Russian Metrojet bombing, Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State’s “province” in Egypt, is now claiming responsibility for an attack yesterday on a hotel in coastal al-Arish that killed 5 people, including 2 policemen and a judge.  The guests included judges that were slated to oversee the parliamentary elections currently taking place.

Wilayat Sinai’s claim posted on social media said the coordinated attack, in which a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with explosives to the hotel’s security checkpoint and was followed by another suicide bomber who entered the hotel’s restaurant, was in response to the Egyptian army’s alleged mistreatment of Muslim women at checkpoints throughout the Sinai.

Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi has vowed his administration will operate with a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism, and so far the security services have responded by arresting and imprisoning terrorist cell members throughout the country, along with foiling bombing plots.

Aside from the high-profile Russian jet bombing, Wilayat Sinai has engaged the Egyptian military both on land and sea, carried out kidnappings of western tourists, and launched rockets at Israel.

In spite of the violence, the elections proceeded and the pro-Sisi For the Love of Egypt secular party coalition obtained a majority in parliament, with the northern Sinai reporting the highest turnout level among the electorate.  The Muslim Brotherhood is banned from participating, while the Salafi Nour party gained only eight seats, down from its high of 122 seats in the 2012 election.

Wilayat Sinai remains highly active across the peninsula, with an arsenal of advanced weapons obtained from Libya, Gaza, and other sources including MANPADs, as well as carrying out beheadings, with IS-style iconography.