For more than two and a half years, Dr. Ramzi Mowafi, once Osama bin Laden’s personal physician, has led the most dangerous terrorist group in Sinai, Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources reveal. A charismatic figure and able operational commander with good connections across the jihadist world, Mowafi has gathered around this group a legion of 7,000 to 9,000 armed men, a hodgepodge of Bedouin Salafists, Palestinian Hamas and Jihad operatives, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood adherents and Sudanese and Yemeni radicals in search of jihad.
It is the Mowafi legion which is responsible for the series of deadly attacks on Egyptian military and security targets in Sinai and missile attacks on Israel.
Its deadliest operation was the multiple strike of Aug. 5, 2012, which left 16 Egyptian commandoes dead at their base in Rafah close to the Gazan and Israeli borders. The terrorists then seized their Egyptian victims’ armored vehicles and heavy weapons and used them to slam into the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Israel. One vehicle made it through and reached an IDF command base before a military helicopter destroyed it. That was the only time al Qaeda had attempted and almost managed to attack an Israeli military target.