ISIS leader killed in Sinai, Egypt says

Story highlights

  • Egyptian army announces it has killed a key ISIS leader in the Sinai
  • The jihadist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, aka Wilayat Sinai, claimed it took down an airliner full of Russian tourists in 2015

(CNN)The Egyptian army announced Thursday it had killed a key ISIS-allied leader in the Sinai Peninsula.

Dead is the head of the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis movement, identified as Abu Duaa al-Ansari, and a number of his aides in airstrikes targeting the ISIS affiliate's strongholds, the army statement said.
    "They managed to destroy a number of weapon and ammunition stores, and their explosives," said the statement. "In addition they killed more than 45 terrorist insurgents and injured dozens of members."
    The army did not explain how it confirmed the death or provide any more details about Ansari, for whom there is a dearth of information in public news accounts.
    His name does not appear in previous CNN reports and has not been reported elsewhere in relation to Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
    It has been previously reported by CNN that the group adopted a different title after its alliance with ISIS in 2014. It was unclear Thursday whether the Egyptian army still characterized the jihadist group under its original name.
    Who is ISIS in Sinai?
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    The group arose from the deterioration of security in Sinai that followed the ouster of Egyption President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The name translated as "Champions of the Holy House," a reference to Jerusalem and the group's stated goal of battling against Israel. It claimed responsibility for various attacks on Egyptian security forces and bombings of a main gas pipeline that connects Egypt with Israel and Jordan.
    CNN met Bedouin sheikhs heading three prominent Sinai tribes.
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    In 2013, Egypt launched a crackdown on jihadist groups in Sinai that led to the emergence of Wilayat Sinai, or "Sinai Province," out of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis when it pledged allegiance ISIS.
    It operated autonomously and fed off the resentments the Sinai Bedouin tribes felt toward the Egyptian government.
    Its leader has been previously reported to be Abu Osama al-Masri. This nom de guerre is a reference to his allegiance to Osama bin Laden, while Masri is Arabic for "Egypt" to show that he is Egyptian.
    He directed attacks on Egyptian security forces and also on Israel, and the group took credit for the crash of the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 that killed 224 people in October 2015.