Islamist organization announces formation of armed committees to settle tribal disputes by force in lawless Sinai, suggests possible unification with Gaza.
The Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm reported yesterday that the Salafi Group in North Sinai has begun to establish tribunals in Rafah, Sheikh Zewayed and Arish with the authority to implement rulings ‘by force if necessary’:
‘“We will deploy some 6000 of our youths to implement verdicts by armed force in the absence of the government,” said group co-founder Suleiman Abu Ayoub. “They will be called off as soon as the police are able to resume their role.”’
Just Journalism reported on the general lawlessness in the Sinai region back in June following a feature broadcast on the BBC’s Newsnight.
According to Abu Ayoub, combating human and narcotics trafficking will be priorities for the new force but the widely-documented weapons smuggling into Gaza will be allowed to continue:
‘”[W]e will not fight the smuggling of basic commodities into Gaza as this is a religious duty,” he noted.’
Just Journalism has recently covered the increase in arms smuggling into Gaza since the fall of the Mubarak regime, as Hamas and other Islamist groups prepare for a third intifada.
While the Salafi Group leader ruled out the immediate establishment of an ‘Islamic emirate in Sinai’, he did hint at a possible unification with Gaza:
‘“But it is possible that Sinai may become part of another state should the borders be changed,” he said without explaining further.’
This report follows further evidence that the Salafi movement in Egypt is growing in strength. A recent rally in the Egyptian capital which was taken over by Salafist groups and fellow Islamist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, received minimal coverage in the British media.