A video released earlier this week by Egypt's deadliest terrorist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has drawn widespread attention in the country after revealing that the son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Deeb, Omar, had joined the group’s ranks in Sinai before he was killed by police last year.
In the video, a bearded El-Deeb appeared wearing army fatigues and promised “dark days” for “infidels and apostates,” referring to members of the Armed Forces. He said that he and others in the group have attacked several military checkpoints.
The video has renewed public discussion about the links between the banned Muslim Brotherhood and the North Sinai-based Daesh affiliate Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks against security forces and civilians over the past few years.
Ahmed Ban, a researcher of Islamist movements and a former Brotherhood member, told Ahram Online on Wednesday that this is not the first time Brotherhood members have joined terrorist groups. Ban said that this particular case has received greater media attention given that it is an admission by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis itself.
"Since the 2013 ouster of Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on Islamists… some Salafists have become Jihadists, and some Brotherhood members who once believed in practicing politics lost faith in it," Ban said.
Ban referred to a number of incidents where Brotherhood members admitted to their affiliation with Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. These include Yehia El-Mongy, the son of Brotherhood leader El-Mongy Saad Hussien, who was convicted for a car bombing of a police compound in Daqahliya. Yehia admitted on camera that he was hired and trained by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.
Ban says other Islamists have set up new lesser-known terrorist groups like Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt), which emerged in January 2014, as well as Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra.
Ban blames the Brotherhood's discourse, which he says “legitimises violence if it serves their interests, and they distance themselves from it if it does not.”
The Brotherhood insists that it is non-violent. However, the group was designated a terrorist organisation following the overthrow of Morsi over its involvement in several attacks in the country. Thousands of Brotherhood members have since been jailed.
The 23-minute video by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis accused the Brotherhood as well as the Salafist Nour Party of being "infidels," saying that El-Deeb had joined the North Sinai-based group to prove that "peacefulness is a disgrace and fighting is the path of the righteous."
The video also said that El-Deeb was sent to Cairo on a mission.
The interior ministry has said that El-Deeb and nine others were killed by security forces during a police raid on a terrorist hideout in a Cairo neighborhood.
Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Deeb, Omar’s father, was quick to distance himself from the video and the "criminal" group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which he says "completely contradicts the great religion of Islam."
"I was never aware of this sudden and shocking orientation about my son," he said, adding that his son was radicalised as a result of "tyranny…and the shattering of hopes" for freedom and democracy in Egypt.
The Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis video started circulating online days after the Egyptian army launched a major operation in North and Middle Sinai and other parts of the country to combat terrorism.
Ban believes the timing of the video suggests the group's power is starting to fade.
"The operation might not completely crush the group, but it could significantly impact its power and activities," he said.
During the video, an unmasked gunman identified as Abu Mohamed El-Masry warned Egyptians against taking part in the country's March presidential vote, saying polling stations and courts will be targeted by the group.
The video also showed several attacks by the group in Sinai, including an attack on El-Arish Airport in December and the shooting of military personnel and civilians accused of “collaboration” with the state.