The month of August witnessed a sharp decline in reported terrorist attacks, with 73 reported attacks compared to 141 in July, making the occurrence of attacks during this month 37% lower than the monthly average for 2015, according to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy’s (TIMEP) monthly briefing published Saturday.
The August briefing is the eleventh in a series of monthly briefings since October 2014, which is part of a larger, ongoing project called “Egypt Security Watch”. The project monitors Egypt’s security situation and documents threats and state responses.
In accordance with the overall decrease in reported attacks, reports of improvised explosive device (IED) attacks decreased to 38 in August. IED attacks remained the predominant method of attack, followed by shootings which are mostly carried out against police.
Reported attacks in North Sinai significantly decreased in August, with 23 attacks compared to 78 in the previous month. In the Greater Cairo area, six attacks were reported, also a decrease compared to previous months.
The briefing identified a reduction in North Sinai’s share in overall attacks compared to the past two years, showing that more attacks are occurring in other areas.
Reported counter-terror operations witnessed a continued decrease from 191 in July to 177 in August, according to the briefing. However, official state security reports frequently account for around two-thirds of reported operations.
As part of the counter-terror operations, the briefing documented that 982 alleged terrorists were arrested in August, 868 of which were alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, 78 alleged terrorists were killed, as opposed to 585 reportedly killed in July. Most of the killings (72) took place in North Sinai.
Since August 2013, 16,295 people have been reportedly arrested as “terrorists”.
The report highlighted two terror attacks that occurred during August. The first was the “Islamic State” (IS) attack on the National Security headquarters in Shubra Al-Kheima, Qaliubiya, leaving 29 people injured as a result of a car bomb on 20 August.
The second incident was the decapitation of Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek by the extremist militant group “State of Sinai” on 12 August. Images circulated by the group’s affiliated accounts went viral on social media; showing his decapitated body lying in the desert with the “Islamic State” (IS) flag in the background. The North Sinai group had pledged allegiance to IS.
During August, militant group Ajnad Misr claimed one attack, and “State of Sinai” claimed 13 attacks, while seven attacks were claimed by other groups including the Revolutionary Punishment and the Popular Resistance Movement.
Regarding developments in the security sector, Egypt began digging “salt-water” channels along its border with Gaza in an attempt to halt the construction of underground tunnels in the area. Palestinian movement Hamas had voiced their objection of the project, claiming that it will further intensify the siege on Gaza.
In September, the army launched operation “Retribution for the martyr” targeting Islamist militants in North Sinai. Hundreds of “terrorist elements” were killed in security raids, according to daily military accounts.
The first phase of the operation ended on 22 September, and the start of a second phase was announced, to enforce security control and provide support to local residents of Sinai.