Tribal recordings of alleged interrogation of Province of Sinai member sheds light on militant group’s structure

YouTube channel Sinai Tribes Official published several audio recordings on Tuesday of a man speaking about various features of the Province of Sinai, in what is claimed to document the interrogation of a member of the Islamic State-affiliated militant group.

Purportedly hailing from the village of Muqata near the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuwayed, the man being interrogated in the clip provides the names and aliases of other members of the militant group, as well as information on the organization’s structure and its leaders, including Abu Jandal al-Rumaily — a Province of Sinai military commander, and Abu Basir — a leading member from Sharqiya governorate. The man can also be heard to refer to the “Emir of the Organization,” whom he identified as Abu Osama al-Masry.

While he first claimed he had never met any of the mentioned figures, the man later backtracked and said he had met the organization’s “emir,” who allegedly asked him to pledge allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

At certain points in the audio clips, it appears as if the man in the recording is being tortured. However, Mada Masr has not been able to independently verify this.

The Youtube channel is believed to be associated with the “Union of Sinai Tribes,” which was formed after the Tarabin tribe — one of North Sinai’s largest tribes — issued a call on April 29 for tribal unification and coordination with the Egyptian Armed Forces to fight the Islamic State affiliate. The Sarawka tribe has also reportedly pledged to fight Islamist militants in the governorate.

The recordings also shed light on other factors of the Province of Sinai’s membership and organizational structure, with the man saying that the Islamist group is constituted of men from various Sinai tribes and families, many of them in their 20s. He added that, while he does not personally know anyone in the group from mainland Egypt, there might be seven or eight Egyptians from the mainland who serve as low-ranking members. 

The 200-member group is divided into a number of specialized units, according to the interrogation recordings, including leadership posts, gunmen, snipers and a unit that carries out beheadings.  

In an unrelated incident, the Islamic State’s platform — the Amaq News Agency — reported that a Province of Sinai suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in the village of Goura near the Gaza border on Monday. The attack targeted a group of Egyptian troops and armed civilians and resulted in the deaths of 15 people.

The Union of Sinai Tribes released a statement earlier this week, announcing that its gunmen had killed 12 people who they alleged were Province of Sinai members, while warning the Tarabin of potential Province of Sinai attacks in public gatherings.

Several tribes took a firm stance against the Province of Sinai organization, after the militant organization kidnapped tribal elders amid conflict over trade in the peninsula.

Moreover, in late April, the Province of Sinai claimed responsibility for the killing of several members of the Tarabin tribe in a car bombing targeting tribal collaborators at a checkpoint near Rafah.

A video circulated on social media showing individuals who were allegedly Tarabin tribe members setting a Province of Sinai gunman on fire as a retaliatory measure. Tarabin members had reportedly held the man for nearly a week before killing him. However, Mada Masr has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of this video.

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