Screenshot from Ajnad-Misr Promotion Video- File Photo
CAIRO – 8 October 2017: Thirteen convicts out of 44 were sentenced to death on Sunday over charges of killing police personnel in a case dubbed in the media as the “Soldiers of Egypt Cell.”
Ajnad Misr[ Soldiers of Egypt] is the only terrorist group operating exclusively in the Greater Cairo area. The group typically relies on the use of primitive weaponry, including homemade IEDs, to execute its attacks.
This is the court’s initial verdict and will be referred to Grand Mufti Shawki Allam to request his advisory opinion; setting December 7 as the date to annul or uphold its verdict. The defendants face charges of forming a terrorist cell that killed three police officers and three policemen, in addition to attempting the murder of 100 officers, stated Giza Criminal Court.
Soldiers of Egypt joined Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which carried out numerous high-profile attacks that targeted security forces and military installations.
Attacks and bombings targeting security forces have escalated since the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who belonged to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
What is the Ajnad Misr Organization?
In a word, it is a Brotherhood Organization. The Muslim Brotherhood youth constitute the main part of it. Those youths used to lead the Brotherhood battles with the police in the streets of Al Haram, Ein Shams, and Al Alf Maskan neighborhoods.
The leaderships in Torrah Prison are the masterminds behind the establishment of the organization. They noticed the youth's fury after the breaking up of Rabaa and al Nahda sit-ins and the failure of the Burning Egypt Down Operation, which was intended to extend to Upper Egypt, Sinai and Alexandria and in which security forces, their buildings and officers were targeted and more than one military site was hit.
On January 23, 2014, Ajnad Misr declared their presence with a tweet: “In the name of God the Merciful, may He stand beside us.” The following day, the group released their first statement where they claimed responsibility for several attacks as early as November 20, 2013, and began a media campaign, “Retribution is Life,” which they promoted as a Twitter hashtag (in Arabic).
Since then, Ajnad Misr have been the most active terrorist group operating in Egypt outside of the Sinai Peninsula.
On May 12, 2014, the Ministry of Interior announced that it had apprehended and obtained confessions from Ajnad operatives in Giza. The ministry released video confessions of the alleged terrorists. These confessions, however, have not been independently verified, and often, similar confessions are elicited under threat of torture.
Ajnad Misr differ from other terrorist groups operating in Egypt in that it does not fully insist on the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. Ajnad Misr recognizes the legitimacy of Egypt as a distinct nation (as opposed to the Islamic umma). The group also employs the language of the January 25, 2011 revolution, lamenting that “the goals of the revolution” have not been fulfilled.
Despite this difference, the group has adopted a language in its statements that would align it with a Salafi jihadi ideology, and the group quotes Ibn Taymiyyah, an Islamic scholar from the Middle Ages whose teachings have greatly influenced Salafism.
Also unlike some other jihadi groups (particularly those affiliated with Al Qaeda), Ajnad Misr takes a sympathetic view toward civilians, even those in opposition to the group.
Ajnad Misr directs its hostilities toward state actors; although several of the terror acts for which it has claimed responsibility have also resulted in the loss of civilian lives, the group claims to avoid this at all costs. (Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, for instance, claim to avoid civilians, however they do not hesitate to claim attacks in which there are high civilian death tolls.)
The group specifically targets particular individuals who they perceive as offenders; this included Brigadier General Ahmed Zaki, killed in an April 23, 2014 attack, and whom the group condemned for his complicity in the arrest and torture of Egyptian youth.
The group takes a particular issue with the Egyptian state’s treatment of women, referencing abuse of female protesters and promising retribution to the mothers of those who had been killed at the hands of the state.
In this sense, Ajnad Misr’s ideological and operational logic falls somewhere between a traditional insurgency and the Salafi jihadi groups operating in Sinai. Regardless of any possible ideological differences, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has declared Ajnad Misr to be their “brothers.”
Ajnad Misr claimed at least 15 attacks in Greater Cairo, many of which have been targeted toward particular police officers and/or their vehicles.
Ajnad Misr’s first coordinated attack took place on January 24, 2014, when a series of bombs exploded on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that resulted in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility for two attacks on police in Giza, killing eight and wounding over 90. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis also claimed responsibility for the attacks, although they later ceded at least partial credit to Ajnad Misr.
On April 2, 2014, Ajnad Misr executed a series of bombings at Cairo University, killing a police officer and wounding others.
On April 15, 2014, the Soldiers of Egypt claimed responsibility for the Dokki bombing near the Cairo Opera House that injured a police officer, a recruit and a civilian; it also claimed responsibility on February 8, 2014 for an attack on police forces in Giza that injured 65.
In May 2014, the Cairo Criminal Court for Urgent Matters designated that Soldiers of Egypt group a terrorist organization.
On the year anniversary of massive protests calling for Morsi’s ouster, Ajnad Misr planned a series of explosions that occurred outside the Ittihadeya Palace in Heliopolis.
A Ministry of Interior explosives expert was killed while trying to defuse an explosive that detonated and other personnel were injured.
A second bomb exploded an hour later, injuring a policeman. The third explosion killed another explosives expert who was trying to defuse an explosive device. Ajnad Misr had announced these attacks via social media and later claimed to have defused some of the devices in order to minimize civilian casualties.
The magic word was "Group 95," which used to be supervised by Osama Yassin, Minister of the Brotherhood Youth, and Muhammad al Beltagy, the Group's Active Joker.
Group 95 quickly began to include young second and third row leaderships, experienced in working with people. Active and trained elements from the Hazemoon groups were included as well. These groups were connected with the Brotherhood leaderships during their reign and they are the groups which arranged for the encirclement of the Constitutional Court and Media Production City in direct coordination with Khairat al Shater.
Since it began, the organization was supported with the most dangerous modern weapons, which constitutes the most important of all techniques of terrorist organizations today; that is, the media support.
A high-level media unit was formed and professional elements were carefully selected as cadres for "Ikwan Online" and "Rassd News" Networks. This media unit thus began to formulate and disseminate the organization's data and communicate with all stations to get to the targeted public opinion. This was done in a highly technical way that is beyond the organization's capabilities; acting at the level of terrorist operations.
The Ajnad Misr organization's journey, which began through the Brotherhood crowds that used to gather every Friday, depended on adding fuel to the events of the day side by side with the crowds demonstrating in neighborhoods through planting explosive devices that seem to have a limited effect in front of a gathering of police forces next to al Buhooth Station of the Subway Giza Line. They also planted bombs to target a similar gathering up the Giza Bridge across from al Istiqama Mosque found in Giza Square.
Policemen suffered limited losses in their ranks as a result of the two operations, in which the explosive devices were described as homemade with a limited effect.
• The group claimed responsibility for two bombings that occurred on February 7, 2014.
• The group claimed to have killed one policeman and injured eight people in a February 13, 2015 bombing near a police station in Ain Shams.
• The group detonated a bomb in 6th of October City on March 5, 2014.
• The group targeted a police car parked near the Israeli embassy in Cairo on March 11, 2014.
• The group placed a bomb in Nasr City on March 29, 2014.
• One police general was killed on April 2, 2014.
• One traffic policeman was wounded by a bomb on April 10, 2014.
• Two policemen and a civilian were wounded by a bomb on April 15, 2014.
• One police officer was killed by the group in Mohandessin on April 18, 2014.
• The group killed one member of the Central Security Forces in Cairo on April 23, 2014.
• The group killed two policemen in Cairo on June 30, 2014.
• The group killed two policemen in Cairo on September 20, 2014.
• The group claimed responsibility for a bombing that occurred on October 22, 2014 near Cairo University that injured 11 people.
• The group claimed responsibility for a bombing that occurred on November 20, 2014 near Helwan University that injured at least five police officers.
• The group injured four policemen in a bombing that occurred on December 5, 2014 near Ain Shams University.
• The group killed one policeman and injured three civilians in a January 2015 bombing in the Talbia district of Giza.
• The group killed one policeman and injured seven policemen and a civilian in a February 13, 2015 bombing in Cairo.
• The group claimed to have killed four policemen and injured eight people in a March 28, 2015 bombing near Cairo University.
• The group claimed responsibility for a bombing in Zamalek that occurred on April 6, 2015 that killed one policeman.