ISIS continues to expand its North African operations and target the existing regimes. Just days after a massacre in Tunisia, the group took responsibility for an attack to the east of the failed state of Libya. A car bomb with an estimated 450 kilograms of explosive — close to 1,000 pounds — exploded in front of the Italian consulate in Cairo. One person was killed in the explosion, described by Egyptian authorities as a “passerby,” while the building suffered severe damage:
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a large car bomb Saturday that destroyed the building housing Italy’s consulate in downtown Cairo, killing at least one person and injuring eight others, Egyptian officials said.
The terror network, in a statement verified by global security firm and NBC News consultant Flashpoint Intelligence, said that its operatives detonated the vehicle with 450 kilograms of explosives. …
It killed a “passerby” and injured eight people, the ministry’s added. One policeman and one civilian were among those injured, an Egyptian security official said earlier.
“The incident will not deter police from continuing efforts and sacrifices to achieve national security,” the ministry added.
As Reuters notes, this is hardly a one-off attack against Egypt. A car-bomb attack killed a top prosecutor in Cairo two weeks ago, responsibility for which is still unclaimed. It could just as easily be the work of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood as ISIS. However, a series of attacks in northern Sinai that followed the bombing were clearly the work of ISIS, opening up Egypt as a new front in the war to seize the entire region under the black flag:
The July 1 Sinai attacks were not the first, but they were the most shocking. They followed the assassination of the prosecutor general, which made linking the two incidents inevitable, especially since they both took place around the second anniversary of the June 30 protests that toppled former President Mohamed Mursi.
Confusion ensued due to contradictory reports on the number of deaths, with an official figure of 21 but local sources saying 70-100. The media described the battle, between Islamist militants and the army, as the fiercest since the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel. Meanwhile, officials are trying to alleviate fears over the growing power the militant group Sinai Province, which is affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“This specific attack is by far the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Daniel Nisman, CEO of the Levantine Group Risk Consultancy, adding that the danger lies mainly in a plan to take over Sinai. “It’s not a hit and run – this is what [ISIS] used in places like Syria and Iraq to capture and hold territory.” Nisman said the operation underlined the shortcomings of the “scorched land” strategy of the Egyptian army, as it makes it harder for the state to garner local support.
Sinai security expert Zack Gold described the attack as “new and worrying,” and said militants either aimed to take over the city of Sheikh Zuwaid, where the attacks took place, or wanted to drag the army into an actual battle. “Either one is unprecedented.”
The emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria may have happened in any set of circumstances after Barack Obama fulfilled his campaign promise to completely withdraw from Iraq. The White House and its apologists blame the 2003 invasion of Iraq for the group’s existence, which ignores a lot of history but at least is an arguable point. The grip that ISIS has created in north Africa can be entirely credited to the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton, who deliberately created a vacuum of power by destroying the Qaddafi regime in Libya without any way to control outcomes on the ground.
The good news in this case, such as it is, is that Egypt’s military is a much more disciplined and cohesive force than anything seen in Iraq. That’s still the case despite the Obama administration’s Arab Spring policies, which nearly pushed the Egyptian army into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. As long as Libya remains a failed state, though, ISIS will continue to raise brigades to fight Egypt on its own soil, and work to destabilize the entire region. That will take more than just “better ideologies” to stop and eventually destroy.