Archive for the ‘Islamic State’ category

Taliban Decry ‘Detriments for the Environment’ from U.S. MOAB Explosion

April 20, 2017

Taliban Decry ‘Detriments for the Environment’ from U.S. MOAB Explosion, PJ Media, Bridget Johnson, April 19, 2017

Afghan commandos are positioned in Pandola village near the site of the U.S. MOAB bombing in the Achin district of Afghanistan on April 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(St. Al the Gored has not yet registered his displeasure at this obvious effort to promote global warming. — DM)

“The use and experimentation of such destructive weapons by foreign occupiers on our war-weary people and in every corner of our war-ravaged country is inexcusable,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “The Islamic Emirate condemns such barbarity in the strongest of terms and considers its perpetrators as war criminals. Such over-proportionate use of destruction poses long-term detriments for the environment and the development of our nation.”

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster visited Afghanistan after the MOAB attack to help determine if the U.S. will have an increased presence in Afghanistan moving forward.

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The Taliban accused Washington of harming the environment and using disproportionate force against ISIS by dropping the “mother of all bombs” in Nangarhar province last week.

It was the first time the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, packed with 11 tons of TNT and dropped from an MC-130, was used in combat.

The U.S. Resolute Support Mission said forces “took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike.” An Afghan army spokesman told the country’s Tolo News that one civilian family lived in the blast area, but they were evacuated by security forces before the MOAB was dropped.

“Many families had long been displaced from the area due to ISIS brutality,” said Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. “Government also took great care to avoid civilian harm.”

Tolo reported Tuesday that the majority of the 96 fighters killed by the MOAB in the ISIS stonghold were Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and members of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. TTP’s attacks include the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the shooting of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, and the 2014 massacre at a Peshawar school. Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been allied with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda, was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Also reportedly among the dead: 13 ISIS commanders, 12 Tajiks, and 13 Indian nationals who had joined ISIS.

ISIS operatives are still active in other provinces including Kunar, Zabul, Ghor, Jawzjan and Sar-e-Pul, where Afghan officials say ISIS has beheaded children and torched homes.

ISIS and the Taliban called a truce last August, agreeing to stop fighting each other to both focus on fighting U.S. forces and the U.S.-backed Afghan forces.

In a statement posted on their website over the weekend, the Taliban said the “barbarity” of the Achin district MOAB drop “was followed with much fanfare with the Americans proudly boasting about it in the media thus showcasing the increasing barbarity of the foreign occupation.”

“The use and experimentation of such destructive weapons by foreign occupiers on our war-weary people and in every corner of our war-ravaged country is inexcusable,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “The Islamic Emirate condemns such barbarity in the strongest of terms and considers its perpetrators as war criminals. Such over-proportionate use of destruction poses long-term detriments for the environment and the development of our nation.”

He added that ISIS in Afghanistan is an internal Afghan matter and “if Americans fear for their security they should foil such plots at their own borders.”

Mujahid accused the U.S. of using ISIS “as a ploy” to “experiment novel weapons and extend the illegitimate occupation.” Further, he claimed the Taliban “came close to completely eradicating this group” but their operations were stymied by U.S. bombing.

“The fact that the Americans claim that their presence in Afghanistan is limited only to a train and assist role while dropping 10 kiloton bombs on our lands only strengthens the voices of independence and jihad in our land,” he added. “…Such irresponsible actions only light the flames of vengeance and show the ugly face of foreign occupation.”

Taiban terrorist attacks this year include a car bombing that killed 7 people outside of a bank and an insider attack that killed a dozen policemen in February. In November, the Taliban claimed a suicide bombing at Bagram Airfield that killed four Americans.

The Obama administration would not call the Taliban a terrorist group, claiming they were an “armed insurgency” and encouraging the Afghan government to broker a deal with the group.

The Taliban were the first terrorist group to openly address President Trump after he won the election, telling him in November and again in December to pull out of Afghanistan or face an “incurable wound.” After the inauguration, Mujahid argued in an open letter to Trump that the previous administration erred in viewing the Taliban as “mere rebellion” instead of “a governing system,” and he should “unwaveringly accept” the “historically successful struggle” of jihadists over the past 15 years and give up the fight in Afghanistan.

Gen. John Nicholson, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, told a Senate panel in February that Russia has been giving support to the Taliban, who have been training with al-Qaeda.

Nicholson said “just within the last year” Russia began cozying up to the Taliban — “this has started and it was a gradual progression,” and the support continues to increase as the Kremlin is “concerned that if there’s a coalition and a U.S. presence in Afghanistan that this affects their ability to influence the Central Asian states to the north.”

Pressed on what Russia’s endgame in Afghanistan could be, Nicholson said he thinks the Kremlin’s goal is to “undermine United States and NATO.”

This month, some Afghan officials in Uruzgan province reported seeing Russian trainers among the Taliban.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster visited Afghanistan after the MOAB attack to help determine if the U.S. will have an increased presence in Afghanistan moving forward.

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ

April 18, 2017

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ, DEBKAfile, April 18, 2017

 

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.

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The US Mediterranean fleet is moving into position ready for a decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for a crushing assault on the Islamic State’s mountain strongholds in central Sinai, DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism sources report.

This would be the second American strike in a month against a Middle East target, after 59 cruise missiles destroyed one-fifth of the Syrian air force at the Shayrat air base on April 7 in response for Assad’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

The prospective American missile attack in Sinai would raise the war on ISIS in the Middle East to a new plane. It would have been discussed during the Egyptian President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 3. He explained to his host, President Donald Trump, the immense difficulty of overcoming the Islamic State’s affiliate when its headquarters were dug into an interconnected web of tunnels and caves in the central Jabal (Mount) Halal of the peninsula. Nicknamed the “Tora Bora of Sinai,” approach roads to this mountain fastness are few and far between, in common with the Afghan cave network near the Pakistan border destroyed on April 13 by the biggest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43/B, in the American arsenal.

The last Egyptian assault on ISIS’ towering mountain stronghold took place on April 2, shortly before El-Sisi travelled to Washington. The Egyptian military announced that 31 terrorists had been killed and a number of caves holding arms and ammunition destroyed.

But the damage was not devastating enough to disrupt the Islamist terrorists’ operations, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Most of the terrorists escaped with the help of allied Bedouin tribesmen who, familiar with every nook and cranny in the desert peninsula, guided them to safety in new caves in Jabal Halal that were even more inaccessible to Egyptian troops.

Their new headquarters can only be destroyed by cruise missiles capable of exploding underground.

The Egyptians and Americans believe that if the Jabal Halal cave system sheltering the ISIS-Sinai core command center is destroyed, its long campaign of terror will be curtailed. The flow of terrorist manpower, arms and explosives from the mountain to the networks which terrorize the population and Egyptian forces of northern Sinai will dry up.

Jabal Halal is also the hub of the ISIS smuggling networks, through which fighters and arms are moved from southern Libya into Sinai and Egypt. Knocking it out will also deliver a resounding blow to that traffic.

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.

Yazidi Activist: Islamic State Cut Open My Friend, Raped Her Baby, Then Raped Her

April 15, 2017

Yazidi Activist: Islamic State Cut Open My Friend, Raped Her Baby, Then Raped Her, BreitbartJohn Hayward, April 14, 2017

(What are feminists doing about these atrocities? What more can be done? — DM)

YouTube

Women for Women International has posted an astonishing interview conducted by its founder,Zainab Salbi, of two eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Islamic State.The tale was not easy to tell, as you can see from the video below, and it is not easy to hear.

The interviewees are Shireen Ibrahim, a Yazidi woman who escaped Islamic State slavery, and activist Feryal Pirali, who handles translation duties.

Ibrahim was captured by ISIS in 2014 while attempting to flee their assault on Iraqi Kurdistan. The Yazidis are a religious minority despised by the Islamic State and considered “devil worshipers” by some other Muslims because they pray to an archangel who is often misidentified as Satan. More details about them can be found here.

Ibrahim became one of many Yazidis held as slaves by the Islamic State, with women and even very young girls often used as sex slaves. She was taken to Sinjar and separated from some forty family members taken with her. She said in her interview with Salbi that half of her family is now missing or dead.

Ibrahim avoided rape at the hands of her ISIS captors for a while by pretending to be married to her cousin and claiming her nephew was her son. She was taken to Syria and tormented in various ways, including ISIS fighters shooting guns into the ground around her, while she was wrapped in a blanket while telling her she would be killed, and pouring some unknown substance down her throat. After she was recaptured during an escape attempt, they tortured her with electric shocks.

“They did everything to me,” Ibrahim said. “They did every bad thing you can think of to me because I ran away.”

She said she was sold as a slave five times during her Islamic State captivity. “The first time I got sold was by a doctor, a guy who came to Syria to buy me,” she recalled. “The last time I got sold it was to the same guy, the same doctor.”

Ibrahim said the price of her first sale was just one dollar. The buyer told her she was a cheap purchase.

The last time she was sold, the ISIS militant hired to transport her helped her escape for reasons she does not know. She currently lives in a camp in northern Iraq for Yazidis who have been rescued from the Islamic State. Ibrahim said she is too traumatized and fearful of ISIS to ever return to her family home in Sinjar.

“It’s hard for us,” Ibrahim said of the other women at the camp who escaped from the Islamic State. “Every minute is like a year.”

The most horrifying story in the interview came from Pirali, who is herself a Yazidi from the Sinjar region. She said she left Iraq in 2010, leaving behind a high school friend who got married and was pregnant with a baby girl when ISIS arrived.

“When ISIS took over our town, when they were trying to run away, because she was heavy, she was pregnant, she couldn’t run a lot,” Pirali said. “So she told her family to leave her behind, ‘save yourself, go.’ She was going to walk slowly until she gets to where they are.”

“Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, The ISIS people got her. What they did to her, they opened up her stomach, like from here to here” — Pirali pantomimed a cut horizontally across her entire stomach — “they opened her up, and they got her baby girl out. They raped the baby, and they also raped her. And she survived.”

“The baby did not make it,” she added. “They thought she was dead. They left her behind. The ISIS fighters, they left her. Her family came back, saw her just like that, in that situation.”

Pirali said this was the atrocity that prompted her to become an activist. In 2015, she circulated a petition asking then-President Barack Obama to help women and girls in ISIS captivity. The petition attracted 100,000 supporters.

“The message I want to send to ISIS people is that we are Yazidis, and we are going to be Yazidis. We are not going to change our religion, no matter what,” Ibrahim said defiantly, with Pirali translating her words.

She wept as she passed along her message to the civilized world: “Save our people that is in ISIS captivity. They’re killing kids in front of our eyes, and they’re bombing them.”

On Tuesday, a Kurdish official told CNN that the bodies of between 1,300 and 1,500 Yazidis have been found in the area around Sinjar, interred in 35 mass graves plus over 100 individual graves. The Kurds believe they will find more mass graves as more territory is recaptured from the Islamic State. The official who spoke to CNN believed there are up to a dozen mass graves in a single village still controlled by ISIS and identified as a site of mass killings by the United Nations.

The United Nations has formally accused the Islamic State of committing genocide against the Yazidis.

Unfortunately, Yazidis in northern Iraq who only recently returned to their homes have been displaced again, as Kurdish and Yazidi militia battle ISIS fighters in the region. The Kurdish Regional Government is seeking to persuade armed Yazidis to break away from the PKK — a militant group engaged in separatist violence in Turkey, which recruited and trained many Yazidis to fight ISIS in the Sinjar region — and join the Kurdish Peshmerga instead.

The world’s largest Yazidi temple, seen by many as a sign of renewal for their religion, is currently under construction in Armenia. Yazidis are a large and respected minority in Armenia, but many of them have relocated to Europe, Russia, and the U.S. in search of jobs, due to a slow economy.

Rephidim, Amalek then: Bir Gafgafa, ISIS now

April 10, 2017

Rephidim, Amalek then: Bir Gafgafa, ISIS now, DEBKAfile, April 10, 2017

Bir Gafgafa’s mission is to provide the Egyptian forces fighting in Sinai with a shield, as well as securing the Suez, one of the world’s most important waterways, against ISIS attack.

It will also serve as a hub for coordinating air operations over Sinai and the Libyan border. It is vitally important to prevent the jihadist networks based in ungoverned Libya and the lawless heartland of the Sinai Peninsula from reaching Egypt’s main cities.

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They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” The Lord said to Moses, take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord. Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17)

About 3,200 years later, Moses would not have recognized Rephidim. In 1967 it was called Bir Gafgafa and was the site of the Egyptian Air Force’s biggest air facility in Sinai, known as “Egyptian Air Force Base 244.”

From there, Egyptian ruler Gemal Abdul Nasser declared that year: “If Rabin wants war, let’s go!”

And so when the Israeli Air Force preemptively wiped out Nasser’s air force on the ground at the outset of the Six-Day war, Bir Gafgafa was hit first. Rephidim was next transformed into Baha 3, the main Israeli Air Force operations base in Sinai during the War of Attribution and the Yom Kippur war. It was supported 8 kilometers away by a radar and electronic warfare station.

But then, Rephidim aka Bir Gafgafa stepped back into history in its next reincarnation as the very first base from which Israeli withdrew in late 1979 after Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David peace accords, Israel’s first peace pact with an Arab nation.

Another 37 years went by and in 2017 Rephidim now serves another Egyptian President, Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi, for his life-and-death struggle with the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

The Egyptian Air Force is in the course of transforming the small air field there into the largest air base in Egypt, this time with Israel’s concurrence. The base is being tailored to serve a wide variety of warplanes, attack helicopters and UAVs, with long runways, hangars and storage depots for bombs, missiles and fuel.

The Egyptian have built an enormous hangar 70×57 meters for housing long-range Wing Loong UAVs purchased from China, which are 9 meters long with a 14-meter wing spread. The Wing Loongs are also being deployed at the Uthman Air base in the Western Desert just 68km from the Libyan border.

The huge base will also have a large civilian passenger terminal at its northeastern end to serve the large army contingents deployed in Sinai. Today the 2nd and 3rdArmies are waging war against terror in Sinai supported by Border Guard units which are undertaking special training in anti-terror warfare.

Rephidim is today hemmed in by packs of the new Amalek, the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi El-Sisi and is battling Egypt under his direction. The base is accessible only by air or convoys escorted by armored vehicles.

But El-Sisi has big plans for defeating them, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Bir Gafgafa’s mission is to provide the Egyptian forces fighting in Sinai with a shield, as well as securing the Suez, one of the world’s most important waterways, against ISIS attack.

It will also serve as a hub for coordinating air operations over Sinai and the Libyan border. It is vitally important to prevent the jihadist networks based in ungoverned Libya and the lawless heartland of the Sinai Peninsula from reaching Egypt’s main cities.

The importance of this mission was demonstrated this week. On April 9, President El-Sisi reported that three gangs of terrorists had infiltrated the country from Libya and sent two suicide bombers to blow up two Coptic churches celebrating Palm Sunday, taking the lives of 45 people and injuring 150.

The jihadist menace points more than one way. The next day, Israel closed the Taba crossing into Egyptian Sinai to Israeli holidaymakers bound for the beach resorts, after its security services had received intelligence of an imminent ISIS death-cum-abduction attack afoot for the 10,000 Israeli trippers.

Double Bombing Hits Egypt on Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Double Bombing Hits Egypt on Palm Sunday, Clarion ProjectElliot Friedland, April 9, 2017

At least 37 people were killed and more than 100 injured in two separate bombing attacks that struck churches in Egypt. The blasts ripped through services for Palm Sunday on April 9.

The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A bomb placed under a seat in the main prayer hall of St. George’s Coptic Church in Tanta, northern Egypt, ripped the hall apart, killing at least 26 and wounded 60 others.

“Everything is destroyed inside the church,” eyewitness Peter Kamel told media outlets after the attack.

A suicide bombing hit Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria a few hours later. According to state TV reports, police officers prevented the suicide bomber from entering the Church, and he detonated his device outside.

At least 11 people were killed and 35 others wounded in that attack. Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church in Egypt, had just lead mass for Palm Sunday but is unharmed as he reportedly had just left the building.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, The head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious institution of learning in Sunni Islam, condemned the attack, calling it a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”

The Coptic community in Egypt has long faced discrimination, but that has worsened since the 2011 revolution that overthrew longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak and replaced him first with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s president Mohammed Morsi and then with former general, President Abdefattah el-Sisi.

Breakaway Muslim Brotherhood factions and ISIS affiliates have been targeting Coptic Christians in an effort to destabilize the state and cleanse Egypt of non-Muslims.

In February, ISIS released a propaganda video featuring a terrorist who carried out a previous attack on St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, threatening to eliminate Egypt’s Christians and “liberate Cairo.”

Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war

April 5, 2017

Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war, DEBKAfile, April 5, 2017

The task of locating destroying Assad’s stocks of pernicious weapon of war can only be performed by troops on the ground. And that is unlikely to happen.

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Seven nations maintain elite military units in Syria – the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Jordan and Israel. American, Russian and Turkish troops are backed by air support. Had those powers decided to destroy the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s poison chemical arsenal, they could have combined to do so and finished the job in a few days – and this week’s horrific tragedy possibly been averted.

The death toll from the Syrian chemical warfare bombardment of the rebel-held town of Kkhan Sheikhoun Monday, April 3, is now estimated at 150 with several hundred injured, cared for in totally inadequate medical facilities. The number of child victims has raised the pitch of world condemnation  The total figure fluctuates according to source.

But the most tragic truth of all is that no one in Moscow, Washington or Ankara is ready go ahead with this operation, any more than they are focused on ending the six-year old Syrian war, which has claimed a death toll of more than 600,000 – most civilians – and the displacement of 12 million refugees. Instead, they are calling the UN Security Council into another emergency (useless) session.

The most cynical aspect of this international wringing of hands is the sorry record of the way Assad’s toxic warfare record has been handled.

On May 3, 2014, the US military reported that efforts to bring about the dismantling of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons had come to naught after Bashar Assad refused to hand over the 27 tons of sarin precursor chemicals, so long as the UN disarmament agency (OPCW) insisted on his destroying their underground storage sites..

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, 12 of those bunker facilities are still operational and barred to access by UN inspectors.

Five months later, OPCW reported that Assad’s chemical weapons stocks had been liquidated. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shook hands in Geneva to flashing cameras to celebrate the successful outcome of their negotiations on the subject.

This turned out to a charade, staged to cover up President Barack Obama’s decision to dodge his own red lines and abstain from action against the Assad regime if he resorted to chemical warfare.

Careful reading of the final OPCW report gives the game away: “To date, nearly 95 percent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by the possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification.” For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

So 5 percent of the poisonous substances remained intact. In the interim four years, the Syrian ruler was able to substantially build up his depleted stocks of poison gas, the use of which also spread to the war in Iraq. The Syrian air force meanwhile began unbridled air strikes with chlorine bombs. They were replenished by Iranian freight planes landing at the Damascus military airfield and the T4 military air base near Palmyra with fresh consignments of chlorine bombs custom-made at Iran’s military industry factories.

Neither the Obama administration in Washington nor the Kremlin in Moscow lifted a finger to stop these deliveries. In the opposition camp, certain Syrian rebel groups, ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front branch started tests on homemade chemical weapons, some of them successfully building up stocks of primitive poison weapons. Other rebel groups simply purchased Syrian chemical weapons from Syrian army officers.

Today, no international inquiry commissions would be able to establish beyond doubt the source of the chemical substances that poisoned hundreds of people in Idlib this week or determine who was ultimately responsible for this atrocity. It must be said that only the Syrian military had the ability to carry out an aerial attack like the one that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Russians will certainly try to use as a pretext for vetoing a condemnatory UN Security Council resolution the claim that Syrian warplanes had only struck an insurgent storehouse containing toxic substances.

The task of locating destroying Assad’s stocks of pernicious weapon of war can only be performed by troops on the ground. And that is unlikely to happen.

Sisi as key to Arab anti-ISIS pact with Israel

April 3, 2017

Sisi as key to Arab anti-ISIS pact with Israel, DEBKAfile, April 3, 2017

(Please see also, Restore the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Alliance, Designate the Muslim Brothers as Terrorists. — DM)

Our Washington sources report that President Trump aims to complete his plan for bringing together Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel on a new footing by September.

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US President Donald Trump’s first face to face with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi at the White House Monday, April 3, focuses on four main topics, DEBKAfile reports: The fight against Islamist State terror rampant in Egyptian Sinai and neighboring Libya; topping up US military assistance to Cairo, aid for easing Egypt’s dire economic straits and, finally, the effort to bolster normal relations between the Arab world (including the Palestinians) and Israel.

From the moment he assumed the Egyptian presidency in June 2014, El-Sisi has waged a never-ending war on Islamist terror against Ansar Beit-al Maqdis, which later pledged alliance to the Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The Egyptian army has so far been worsted.  The Egyptian president is not deaf to the criticism of the Second and Third Armies’ failure to overcome a few thousand armed men, even though they can at a moment’s notice raise several thousand more fighters from the Bedouin tribes of Sinai. US intelligence has rated the Egyptian forces as slow-moving and unwieldy; but for limited forays, its contingents preferring to sit safely in their barracks rather than risk going out and pursuing the enemy across the Peninsula.

Shortly before President El-Sisi’s trip to Washington, the Egyptian air force conducted intense bombardments of ISIS concentrations around the northern town of El Arish, killing at least 14 terrorists, nabbing 22 and seizing large caches of roadside bombs. But they too long delayed bearding the Islamists in their main stronghold atop Mount Jabal Hala in central Sinai. ISIS is therefore free to move around the territory and strike at will, the while expanding its operations into Egypt proper.

The weekend air strikes came after months in which ISIS overran sections of El Arish, Sinai’s biggest town (pop: 100,000). Their grip is such that Egyptian forces no longer dared venture into those lawless neighborhoods, especially at night. Earlier this year, terrible persecution including executions forced the few thousand indigenous Christians, most of them Copts, to flee their homes in El Arish. Egyptian forces proved unequal to safeguarding the US-led international observer force (MFO) monitoring the 1972 Egyptian-Israel peace treaty at a nearby station.

American military aid to Egypt stands today at $1.3bn a year. Even though the US president means to slash foreign aid programs, he may make an exception in this case and expand military assistance -, possibly in the coin of advanced military hardware, given the country’s unending frontline battle against Islamist terror.

Its presence in El Arish, 130km from the Egyptian-Israeli border, plants the peril on the doorsteps of Egypt’s neighbors as well: Northern Sinai borders on Israel, its northwestern district shares a border with the Gaza Strip, abutting in the east on Jordan and in the southwest on Libya. The cities of western Sinai sit on the banks of the Suez Canal.

The Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate is closely allied with Salafi organizations in the Gaza Strip and works hand in glove with its Palestinian Hamas rulers, especially in the lucrative arms-smuggling business.

Al-Baghdadi last year posted a group of Iraqi officers in his service to the Sinai contingent. They travelled through southern Jordan to reach the peninsula. The Islamist cells in Libya have moreover made ISIS-held turf in Sinai their safe highway for traveling undetected to their other strongholds across the Middle East.

To stamp out this sprawling, multi-branched menace, the Trump administration needs to bring Egypt, Jordan and Israel into a coalition for a sustained, common campaign.

The Obama administration, which boycotted President El-Sisi for persecuting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, tried unsuccessfully to build Turkey, Egypt and Israel into a counterterrorism pact. The Trump administration, for which the Brotherhood is anathema, has a better chance. But first, relations between the Arab world and Israel need to be placed on a regular footing. Some groundwork already exists in the informal bilateral military ties Egypt and Jordan maintain with Israel. DEBKAfile’s military sources have revealed in past reports the limited give-and-take relations for fighting terror Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi maintain with Israel.

The US President’s advisers recognize that before a broad, effective front against ISIS and Al Qaeda can be put together from these partial, often covert ties, progress is necessary towards normalizing relations between the Arab governments and the Jewish state, including the Israeli-Palestinian track.

Trump will certainly want to hear what role his Egyptian guest is willing to take for bringing this process forward. He will ask his next Middle East visitor, Jordan’s Abdullah II, the same question, when he arrives in Washington Tuesday. As for the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, he was promised an invitation to the White House this month, but not yet been given a date. He is clearly being left to wait until the senior players in the region have had their say. Our Washington sources report that President Trump aims to complete his plan for bringing together Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel on a new footing by September.