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Sinai gas pipeline struck for 4th time in 2014

Unidentified assailants yesterday evening detonated explosives along a gas pipeline in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The latest attack took place south of el Arish, and ambulances were headed to the scene, AFP reported.

The targeted pipeline provides gas to an industrial area near el Arish as well as to Jordan, according to al Masry al Youm. A security source told Xinhua that some of the factories in the Sinai that receive gas from the pipeline are linked to Egypt's army.

Yesterday's attack, the fourth such attack in 2014, was the first against a pipeline in the Sinai since Feb. 11. In January, the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) claimed responsibility for pipeline attacks on Jan. 17 and Jan. 27.

Since February 2011, Sinai gas pipelines have been struck at least 20 times, according to a tally maintained by The Long War Journal. Ansar Jerusalem has claimed responsibility for nearly all of these attacks.

In February 2012, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri lauded "the heroes who blew up the gas pipeline to Israel," in a message released to jihadist forums. Approximately five months later, Ansar Jerusalem released a video in which it took responsibility for 13 of the attacks.

"[I]f you [the Egyptian government] continue exporting gas to the Zionist enemy [Israel] and continue in your betrayal, then we will resume bombing the pipelines once again, but bigger this time," an official said in the video, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the video, Ansar Jerusalem showed its fighters preparing and planting explosive devices along the gas pipeline, while audio from Zawahiri's February speech played.

In April 2012, Egypt ended a deal that saw it provide gas to Israel, according to press reports.

In its recent claims of responsibility for the pipeline attacks, Ansar Jerusalem has said that it is conducting such attacks as part of its economic war against Egypt's army. "We will expand our economic war on this treasonous group until we overpower and defeat them," the jihadist group said in a statement released to jihadist forums on Jan. 28. In the same communiqué, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, Ansar Jerusalem said that "not a drop of gas will reach Jordan because you are securing the borders of the Jews."

Among the reasons cited by Ansar Jerusalem for striking the pipeline that provides gas to Jordan were the "UAVs departing from American bases in Jordan that spy on our Mujahid brothers in al-Sham."

[Source: By David Barnett, Threat Matrix, The Long War Journal, 26Feb14]

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