Egypt goes to war on ISIS, masses troops against Islamist Libyan stronghold at Darnah
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 28, 2015
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi has deployed his troops for all-out war on ISIS strongholds in Libya, the first Arab ruler to challenge the Islamists in a fellow Arab country, debkafile’s military sources report. His intiative dramatizes the spillover of the Islamist State’s threat across the Middle East, and the fading impetus of the US-led coalition effort to reverse Islamic State gains in Iraq and Syria.
Our Washington sources report that the Obama administration’s planned spring campaign to free Iraqi Mosul from the Islamic State’s occupation is stuck in the sand. Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike accuse the president of having no clear war strategy and of holding back from the US-led coalition the fighting manpower necessary for a successful operation.
Answering questions in the Senate WEdnesday, Feb. 25, the coalition commander, retired Gen. John Allen, said he had no hard-and-fast timeline for the war. The influential Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California responded angrily: Your answers show one thing about the timeline defined by the White House as an enduring ground operation: “There is none.”
Jihadi John, who was filmed beheading ISIS victims, was revealed Thursday, Feb. 26, as a northwest Londoner of Kuwaiti descent called Mohammed Emwaz, who had been known to British intelligence. This was leaked by US sources to signal Washington’s aggravation over the relatively passive British role in the war on the Islamic State. Also released was a video showing Islamic barbarians smashing priceless Assyrian artifacts in a Mosul museum – following which Friday, four ISIS members were burned alive for refusing to join the savage spree to vandalize the relics of an ancient world civilization. Even so, US-led air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq remain sporadic, no better than pinpricks.
The Egyptian president was stirred into action by the barbaric beheading on Feb. 15 of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had found work in Libya.
El-Sisi first launched a series of air strikes against ISIS and allied Islamist militias in one of their Libyan strongholds in Darnah, following which he has now ordered Egyptian commando and marine forces to prepare for sea landings to seize the town and destroy the terrorist elements there, another landmark operation in the war on Islamist terror. .
Part of the Libyan terrorist movement and one of ISIS’s closest allies is the Ansar al-Sharia militia, which in September 2012 burned down the US consulate in Benghazi and murdered the US ambassador and three other American officials. Cairo’s Darnah operation is believed to be days away. It is scheduled to take place at the same time as another anti-terrorist operation, which El-Sisi is planning to launch on Egypt’s longest-running front against the Islamist threat in Sinai, 2,000 kilometers east of Darnah. There, Egyptian and ground forces will go into action against the ISIS affiliate’s hideouts.
He is also considering aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip to target Hamas’ military arm whose active collaboration with the jihadis has been confirmed by intelligence. Some of the militias which have divided Darnah, a town of app. 50,000, among themselves, have declared their territories provinces of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s Islamic Caliphate. According to our military sources, Egyptian forces will be assigned to attack the town from the north after a beach landing. They plan to link up with allied Libyan militias commanded by the former Qaddafi regime general Khalifa Hifter, who will come from Benghazi to strike the town from the south. Khalif and his armed men have been pursuing a relentless war on the inroads made by al Qaeda in Libya, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, with quiet backing from Cairo.
The London-based Arabic Alquds Alarabi, which is known for its solid sources in the Middle East, reported this week that Gen. Hafter had recently paid at least two secret visits to Cairo to collect the weapons he needs for his part in the Darnah offensive and coordination. After one of those trips, the paper reports, Hafter set out for Jordan where he had meetings with Israeli military and intelligence officials.