Sufi cleric abducted in Sinai by suspected militants: Military source

Ahram Online, Saturday 4 Oct 2014

A Sufi sheikh and a number of worshippers were abducted Friday from a mosque in Sheikh Zuweid

Suspected militants abducted a Sufi leader late on Friday in the restive Sinai Peninsulawhere the army is combating a mounting Islamist insurgency.

A military source told Aswat Masriya that the cleric was kidnapped along with others from a small mosque in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid following evening prayers.

According to tribesmen in the region, the abductors are believed to be militant insurgents who take issue with Sufism, a mystical concept of Islam whose practices are considered by extremist Muslims to be in breach of sharia, or Islamic law.

Several Sufi mausoleums in Sinai have been bombed by Islamist militants in recent years amid a growing Islamist insurrection that has spiked since the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer.

Eyewitnesses present at the mosque at the time of the incident said the abductors said those kidnapped "will be our sacrfice this Eid," a reference to the festival of Eid Al-Adha which began on Saturday. Muslims typically sacrifice animals during the celebration in commemoration of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice Ismail in submission to God's will.

Some Sinai-based militant groups say their attacks, which have mainly targeted police and troops, are to avenge a state crackdown on Islamists after Morsi's removal, which has seen hundreds killed and thousands jailed.

Officials have more recently expressed alarm over possible ties between Sinai fighters and the Islamic State, the Sunni extermist group which has seized control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq. 

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Egypt's most active militant group, had threatened fresh deadly attacks against security forces on Saturday, the first day of the Eid festival.

Militant violence has killed hundreds of security personnel in the last year, as well as claimed a number of civilian casualties.

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