Wilayat Sinai (WS) (AKA Islamic State in Sinai) extremist activity increased in the past two weeks, carrying out attacks against the Egyptian Armed Forces, security forces and civilians in North Sinai, Egypt. In return, the Egyptian army continued its military operations, especially in Rafah, Sheikh Zuwayd and Bir al-Abd, where WS militants are still active there.
Most extremist activity focused on the eastern side of North Sinai at the beginning of last year (2020). However, there were recent reports of terrorist attacks in areas close to the Suez Canal in the last month of 2020 and the beginning of this year, indicating that extremists’ area of operations is expanding to areas where extremist activity was not expected to be seen.
An Egyptian media website, Mada Masr, reported that it had spoken to local civilians in North Sinai, who said that at least 11 Wilayat Sinai surrendered to the Egyptian Armed Forces at the end of December 2020, due to military siege and food shortages.
The source said that the military siege, and possibly hunger as well, have forced WS militants, including their women and children to surrender to the Egyptian military during December 2020. Quoting a security source in North Sinai, the outlet added that WS militants have begun to hand themselves in since mid-December 2020.
The Egyptian outlet added that the source close to the security services confirmed that “11 people have surrendered, all of them from the Rumailat tribe, and affiliated with Wilayat Sinai in Mutla village, west of Rafah.”
The source said that the handover came following an “initiative by the security services” giving the green light to tribe leaders to persuade their members involved in the ranks of the terrorist group to surrender themselves. In exchange, the militants will be transported to security headquarters for investigation before releasing them.
The source added that the handover was mediated between the militants, their families, and representatives of security services, where the militants were given a specific date and time at a specific security base near the area in west of Rafah.
Families of the militants were also reported to have begun surrendering to the Egyptian army at the “Al-Jahinyin” checkpoint, a joint checkpoint between the Egyptian Armed Forces and the Tribal Coalition in the southeast of Sheikh Zuwayd.
The Tribal Coalition allied with the Egyptian army in Sinai consists of members of the Tarabin, Rumailat, and Sawarka tribes. To make the situation more complicated in North Siani, there are also individuals from these tribes who had joined extremist groups in North Sinai, such as Jund Al-Islam and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis in the past, and Wilayat Sinai now.