Israel is preparing for an attack by Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, Wilayat Sinai (“Sinai Province”), within the next six months, a top military official told the UK’s Telegraph.
The unnamed official quoted by the newspaper Friday said Israel believes the group will soon use weapons and vehicles stolen from Egypt’s military to stage an attack on the Jewish state’s southern border with the Sinai Peninsula.
The weaponry includes an Egyptian tank and Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles, the officer said.
“It could happen today, tomorrow, in a month but within the next six months we will come into an engagement with Wilayat Sinai,” the official said. “In the next six months they will try to carry out an attack and try to do something against Israel.”
The group was established as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in 2011, amid the revolution that brought about the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Comprised of extremists and former al-Qaeda fighters, it sought to fight both the Egyptian state as well as Israel.
In 2014, as the Islamic State swept into power in vast regions of Syria and Iraq, the organization pledged allegiance to the group and renamed itself as the “Sinai Province.”
The Israeli official noted that the terrorists would need to make good on the group’s founding principles in the near future.
“Many terrorist organizations use Israel as a prop but, for these statements to have any content or not be seen as empty, something must eventually happen in the field,” he said.
The last major attack on Israel’s southern border was in 2012, when terrorists belonging to the group, then still known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, smashed into Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Egypt.
The heavily armed gunmen killed at least 16 Egyptian soldiers and commandeered two Egyptian armored vehicles before attempting to cross into Israel.
One vehicle exploded at the border, but the second managed to enter Israeli territory.
The six attackers inside then managed to drive about a mile into Israel, and were traveling at 70 kilometers an hour along the road toward Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, before the Israeli Air Force was able to get a clear shot and blow the vehicle up. Gunmen who survived the blast were killed in an ensuing firefight with Israeli soldiers.
The Israeli army official told the Telegraph that Israel believed the group to be well more equipped today than it was then.