Islamic State (IS)-affiliated “Sinai Province” verified the authenticity of reports that claimed its former leader Abo Doaa Al-Ansary was killed by the army, according to the group’s official newspaper.
In the same context, the IS newspaper Al-Naba also reported that Abo Hager Al-Heshami has been appointed as the new leader of Sinai Province.
Earlier in August, army spokesperson Mohamed Samir said in a statement that military forces in North Sinai killed Al-Ansary along with 45 other militants.
Al-Ansary was killed in airstrikes in Al-Arish, launched by the Egyptian Air Force based on intelligence data, according to the army spokesperson’s statement.
Following the statement, the newly circulated name was denied by several affiliated members of “Sinai Province” on their social media outlets, who claimed that it was not real. They alleged that the leader’s name in the recent army statement was fabricated in response to the “Flames of Desert” video that was released by “Sinai Province”, containing footage of army and police personnel being killed.
Following the army’s statement, the IS-affiliated group did not deny or assert the statement or even reveal the real identity of their leader. Local media reports have used several names to label the militant group leader in recent years. These names are often seen as supported by fact or questions have arisen as to whether or not the names being floated around can be labeled as “Sinai Province” leaders.
Since 2013, state security forces represented in both the army and police have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province”, known previously as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation to IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.