Arrests in North Sinai continue as militants vow to spread ‘Moral Police’ practices 

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Army and police forces declared on Wednesday the detention of 69 individuals in different security campaigns. 28 of them are suspects, while 41 of them are fugitives involved in different misdemeanours, according to the armed forces spokesperson.

According to state-owned agency MENA, a police campaign, lead by the North Sinai Security Directorate, managed to arrested 41 fugitives who are wanted and convicted in different cases, including forgery and several administrative violations. The arrested individuals will be interrogated and sent to the prosecution, while others will be sent to prison as they had previously been sentenced already.

Also on Wednesday, the spokesperson of the armed forces published a statement with details of the arrest of 28 individuals, who are currently being investigated. It is not known whether the detainees are accused in relation to terrorism. The armed forces rarely announce the identities of the arrested individuals.

The campaign also destroyed two trucks, which were allegedly used by militants, according to the statement.

The campaign was said to have been executed by the second field army, which is operating in North Sinai. The army has been engaged in several heavy clashes with militants belonging to the Sinai Province group, which is affiliated with the Islamic State, in Al-Arish, Rafah, and Sheikh Zuweid.

Currently, most of the clashes between militants and the armed forces take place in Central Sinai, as reports say the forces are engaging in battles with militants who allegedly occupy Mount Helal, a mountainous area rumoured to be a stronghold of militants, fugitives, and drug traffickers.

In Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, the presence of the Egyptian police is more prevalent. In many cases, the residents of the cities demand the presence of the army inside the city, along with being present at checkpoints at the entrances to the cities and their outskirts.

In several cases, militants capitalise on a lack of security presence and institute checkpoints. “Passersby are demanded to abide by the Islamic Sharia Law,” according to a citizen of Al-Arish, who requested to remain anonymous.

On Tuesday night, the militant group published a video titled “The light of Sharia”, which is documenting practices of so-called “Islamic Police”, such as ambushing tobacco smugglers, burning cigarette packs, and destroying TV sets. Also the video shows the destruction of graves, which allegedly violate the teachings of the Sharia. Ultraconservatives believe that it is religiously forbidden to commemorate the dead by building shrines over their graves.

The video also showed alleged members of the group detaining individuals, who were arrested for conducting Sufi practices. The footage showed the arrested men blindfolded and lead in a line by the militants, and it then later showed a preacher advising the arrested men about the immorality of visiting shrines.

The footage finally showed a video that documents the beheading of two elderly men, which the militants claimed were Sufi clerics.

The video depicts a group of militants standing in a circle while a verdict is being read out to an elderly man, who is blindfolded and kneeling. The two men are said to be Sheikh Soliman Abu Harraz and Sheikh Abu Qatifan. Both had reportedly been kidnapped. Pictures of this incident were previously circulated online in November 2016.

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