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Egyptian jihadists thank U.S. State Department for ‘terrorist’ designation

A member of Egyptian police special forces takes up position during an Islamist protest in southern Cairo on Nov. 28 after Salafist militants had targeted police in a spate of attacks in the capital. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department designated Ajnad Misr, a Salafist militant group in Egypt, as a terrorist organization. Not long thereafter, the jihadists responded on the group's official Twitter account, thanking the U.S. for this "blessing."

The U.S. State Department communique says the group emerged in January 2014, "and has since claimed numerous attacks on Egyptian security forces at government buildings, public spaces and universities, often injuring or killing innocent bystanders." In November, the militants targeted Egyptian police officers and conscripts in a spate of shooting attacks in the capital.

Ajnad Misr, or "Soldiers of Egypt," used the moment to also condemn American aggression and violence, gesturing to CIA torture revelations exposed last week in a U.S. Senate report. Long War Journal offers this summary:

Ajnad Misr argues in its statement, written in Arabic, that America is the real "terrorist" organization, as it is a "killer of children" and has established "secret prisons." Since the revolution in 2011, the group claims, it has faced "many plots" aimed at maintaining the "power of tyrants."
The statement reads like a piece of al Qaeda propaganda, as the jihadists explain they are not just facing a "criminal system or internal organs," but a "global system," which "many people" do not pay attention to. Egypt is not an "American state," the group says, and it has been working to counter America's efforts "in our territory." This is the "battle we face," Ajnad Misr says.
"We are embarking on a historic change that will [transform] the world" and ensure that we "will not go back to the era of tyrants," the group says.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the country's de facto ruler since ousting Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in a coup in July 2013, has embarked on a ruthless campaign against Islamist groups in the country, particularly in the restive Sinai peninsula. Some of the extremist insurgent factions there have sworn fealty to the Islamic State, the jihadist organization in Syria and Iraq that's in Washington's crosshairs.

Ajnad Misr, though, is not one of them. As the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy observes, it "does not insist upon the establishment of an Islamic caliphate" and cloaks its rhetoric in the language of Egypt's 2011 revolution. This April, it claimed responsibility for the assassination of Brig. Gen. Ahmed Zaki, who Ajnad Misr said was responsible for the arrest and torture of Egyptian youths.