Egypt’s most dangerous terrorist group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), which operates largely in the Sinai Peninsula, has confirmed that its operatives are guided by the Islamic State, the extremist jihadist organization that has conquered large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria since June.
A senior commander with the Egyptian organization told Reuters that IS operatives give them advice and instructions on the tactical level.
“They teach us how to carry out operations. We communicate through the internet,” the anonymous commander told Reuters.
“They don’t give us weapons or fighters. But they teach us how to create secret cells, consisting of five people. Only one person has contact with other cells.”
“They are teaching us how to attack security forces, the element of surprise,” he said. “They told us to plant bombs then wait 12 hours so that the man planting the device has enough time to escape from the town he is in.”
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has reportedly killed hundreds of Egypt’s security forces and more recently, has taken to beheading its captives and uploading the executions online.
Last month, the group executed four people it said had supplied information to Israel, which led to a lethal airstrike on the group’s senior operatives. A week before that, it beheaded another four people for their alleged support of the Egyptian army.
Last week, the group carried out a bombing that killed 11 Egyptian policemen.
The police and army have launched a massive operation in the Sinai to try to crush the group, killing scores of militants, including several of their leaders.
The jihadists have acknowledged losing of some of their leaders, but have continued to attack both security forces and Bedouin suspected of collaborating with them.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has spearheaded attacks that have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year.
It says it wants to implement Islamic law and that its attacks are to avenge the killing of pro-Morsi protesters by the army and police.
The group has previously posted videos showing other attacks, including a suicide bomber’s attempt to assassinate the interior minister outside his home in the capital in September 2013. The minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, survived.
The group is believed to be led by Bedouin militants, and several of its cadres who have been killed or arrested had fought alongside Islamist rebels in Syria.
AFP contributed to this report.