‘Slain’ Sinai terror leader likely still alive

Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper follows the conflicting reports on the death of Shadi al-Menei

Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula (Public domain/Wilson44691/Wikimedia commons)
Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula (Public domain/Wilson44691/Wikimedia commons)

A prominent member of a Sinai-based terror group who Egyptian security officials said was killed in May is likely still alive, Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported Saturday.

Shadi al-Menei of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was reported killed on May 22 after Egyptian security sources said he had been shot dead in an ambush. But reports have increased that al-Menei is alive and well.

“He’s still alive,” Ahmed Al-Soweirki, a resident of al-Menei’s home village of Al-Mahdiya, told the paper. Al-Menei’s uncle Ibrahim Al-Maniei also claimed the supposedly slain militant had been seen in the village days after being proclaimed dead.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, based in the Sinai Peninsula, has spearheaded attacks that have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since July 2013 when the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Senior security officials said al-Menei and the three other militants were found dead after unidentified gunmen sprayed their vehicle with bullets on a road in central Sinai. Some reports cited a tribal feud as the reason for the killing, while others stated Special Forces were involved in the operation. Egyptian officials also identified al-Menei as the leader of the terror group.

But the organization denied this, saying several days later that ““They announced that they killed Shadi al-Menei and that he was the emir (leader) of the group. He was neither killed nor was the emir.”

The statement said the authorities have not yet identified the leader, who the group said “is safe.”

Egypt’s Interior Ministry maintains that Al-Menei was killed, but adds that the corpse had not yet undergone DNA analysis.

“It’s all contradictions,” Sinai reporter Abdel Kader al-Mubarak told the paper. “There is no proof that he was killed. Some security sources in the North Sinai governorate say that he was. Others deny this. An operation did take place in the Jebel Al-Maghara area and several people in a four-wheeled vehicle were killed. But their identities have not been confirmed. Their bodies were removed from the site immediately.”

The al-Qaeda-inspired group has previously announced the deaths of its operatives and senior commanders, sometimes even before the authorities did.

The Egyptian army has poured troops and armor into the restive peninsula to stamp out jihadists, killing several senior commanders.

The jihadists have spread out from Sinai to attack police in the mainland, bombing security headquarters in Cairo and the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

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