A coordinated attack by 4 groups of about 20 terrorists on a mosque during Friday prayers in northern Sinai killed more than 300 people and wounded hundreds more. This was the first major attack on a mosque in Egypt by a group affiliated with the Islamic State. There have been many attacks on police stations and army bases as well as Christian churches in Sinai before, but this was the first major attack on a mosque. The reason this mosque, the al-Rawda Mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed, was targeted is that it is used by a Sufi sect that is considered heretical by the Islamic extremists of IS, and the town is known to support the Army.
The reaction by the Egyptian Government was swift. Pres. Al-Sisi called it a terrorist attack and said the army will use brute force against them. He declared three-days of mourning and the Egyptian air force attacked several sites in Sinai. But, the Egyptian people and many observers are not convinced this will do any good, since such attacks have been mounted before and yet the pace and extent of terrorist attacks have increased. Sinai seems to be out of the control of the Egyptian Army and Government.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned the “painful terror attack in Egypt.,,,There is no difference between terrorism harming Egypt and terrorism harming other countries. Terror will be beaten more quickly if all countries work against it together,” the PM’s office said in a statement. Certainly Israel could teach the Egyptians a lot about controlling terrorism, especially using intelligence gathering to defeat their attacks.
As the IS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, with now more than 90% of its territory recovered and most of its active militants killed, the IS will no doubt expand its attacks elsewhere to try to show that it is still effective. Sinai is one of its last undefeated strongholds. Lets hope Egypt gets the support and expertise it needs to destroy this remaining murderous terrorist holdout.