CAIRO, EGYPT–The killing outside his home in Cairo yesterday of a top general responsible for anti-terrorism operations in the restive Sinai province was part of an assassination plot involving Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups and top terror operatives from Hamas in Gaza, Egyptian security sources told PJ Media last night.
The murdered general was responsible for shutting down the smuggling tunnels between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Egypt, and it is believed that the joint operation was intended to relieve some pressure from the Egyptian army’s operation that had placed a stranglehold on one of Hamas’ main sources of income and slowed the movement of weapons and fighters from Gaza into Sinai waging battle against the Egyptian government, including the Islamic State’s group in Sinai.
A statement published after the assassination also invoked the death of a senior Muslim Brotherhood operative killed in a shootout with police earlier this month.
The New York Times reports:
Gunmen suspected of being Islamist militants killed a senior Egyptian Army officer on Saturday in a brazen daylight shooting outside the man’s home in a Cairo suburb.
The state media identified the officer as Brig. Gen. Adel Ragai, commander of the army’s Ninth Armored Division.
General Ragai, according to multiple pro-state papers, had previously been deployed to Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, where the military is fighting Islamic State militants.
The military did not issue a statement.
“I heard the gunshots and saw him die before my eyes,” Sumaya Zein el-Abedeen, the general’s wife, told the state media. She said neighbors had told her that they saw three gunmen with assault rifles in a vehicle outside the couple’s home. The men fired on General Ragai and his driver. Both men were taken to a hospital, where they were declared dead.
A group called Liwa al-Thawra, the Revolution Brigade, claimed responsibility on Twitter for the attack. The group’s account was then suspended.
General Ragai was also responsible for an armored division in Sinai:
The head of an armored division in #Sinai was tragically murdered today in Cairo outside of his home. Liwa Al Thawra claimed the murder.
— The Tahrir Institute (@TimepDC) October 22, 2016
The Liwa Al Thawra statement claiming responsibility also invoked the killing of Mohamed Kamal, one of the top Muslim Brotherhood leaders leading the group’s more violent factions.
Most important part of Liwaa al-Thawra’s statement is reference to late MB ldr. Mohamed Kamal. Sure to instigate a great deal of controversy
— Mokhtar Awad (@Mokhtar_Awad) October 22, 2016
After the killing of Kamal, Liwa Al Thawra issued a statement vowing retribution.
Statement circulating online allegedly by Liwa al-Thawra eulogizing MB’s Mohamed Kamal & vowing retribution. Can’t confirm authenticity. pic.twitter.com/iKhPceyXDe
— Mokhtar Awad (@Mokhtar_Awad) October 5, 2016
As I mentioned here at PJ Media in my report on the death of Kamal, he was responsible for the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent factions, including the most recent incarnation of the group’s military wing, Hassm, which has been involved in assassinations of Egyptian military officials.
Coincidentally, Hassm released a video yesterday showing fighters engaged in military training:
The possible involvement of Hamas operatives in the assassination operation yesterday may demonstrate an even increased role in terrorism in Egypt, including their ties to the Islamic State group’s activity in Sinai.
The roots of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “special committee” terror units go back to a split within the group’s leadership, with the old guard looking for compromise with the Egyptian state and the youth wing led by Kamal seeking a more violent “creative revolutionary path.”
A series of statements during 2015 endorsed the group’s campaign of violence:
- In January 2015, the group’s official website posted a statement calling for a “long, uncompromising jihad” and directing its members to prepare for such. This statement was posted just a day after top Muslim Brotherhood leaders were hosted at the State Department.
- A group called the “Revolutionary Punishment Movement,” which is closely tied with the Brotherhood, issued a statement in early February warning all foreigners and diplomats to leave the country by February 28, 2015, or possibly be faced with becoming targets in their attacks.
- In May 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood published an official statement in English and in Arabic stating that “the revolutionary option with all its means and mechanisms is its strategic choice from which there will be no retreat,” and justifying the killing of politicians, judges, security officials and media personnel.
I reported here at PJ Media in June 2015 about the escalation of violence by the Muslim Brotherhood youth cadres during 2015, beginning with the published call for a “long, uncompromising jihad” in January 2015.
This past June, I reported on the arrest of an IED terrorist cell composed of Muslim Brotherhood members operating out of Alexandria that attacked military, police, diplomatic and business targets.
Meanwhile, bills calling for the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization have stalled in Congress.
In the House, H.R. 3892, the “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015,” a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and currently with 68 cosponsors, passed the House Judiciary Committee in February on a 17-10 vote.
But House Speaker Paul Ryan has not brought the bill up for a full House vote.
The Senate companion bill, S. 2230, introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and currently with 7 cosponsors, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is bottled up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Foreign Relations chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has yet to bring the bill up for a committee vote — or even to hold hearings on the matter.
Bill cosponsors have expressed frustration with the Obama administration’s inaction on the Muslim Brotherhood even as terror attacks by the group continue. The group has targeted Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, which I reported on here just a few weeks ago based on my April 2014 survey in Upper Egypt of sectarian attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood.
With Congress in recess until after the November 8 election, the only opportunity for these bills to be considered in either the House or Senate would be in the lame duck session.