A court in Egypt on Tuesday sentenced 14 Islamist members of the jihadist organization Al-Tawhid we Al-Jihad to death for their roles in a series of attacks in northern Sinai in July 2011. The Ismailiya Criminal Court, located in the city of Ismailiya on the west bank of the Suez Canal, convicted the 14 Islamists [El Ahram report] for killing five military officers and a civilian during the attacks in Sinai on a police station and a bank. The court also convicted the 14 Islamists of attempting to murder 12 other security guards near the bank and police station in Sinai. The Ismailiya Criminal Court will rule on September 24 [Reuters report] on 11 other defendants accused of being members of Al-Tawhid we Al-Jihad. The defendants in that case are accused of bombing tourist resorts in Sinai in 2004 and 2005. Al-Tawhid we Al-Jihad is a Salafist [PBS backgrounder] organization and is one of several banned groups that the Egyptian government is targeting in a security crackdown.
Salafists, who adhere to an ideology that seeks to restore Islam to its original meanings and teachings, have played a significant role in recent conflicts in the Middle East. Earlier in August, there was speculation [BBC report] that Salafist cleric Mohammed Yursi Ibrahim would be appointed to the cabinet Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], possibly increasing tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt. In June, an Israeli missile strike killed two Salafist militants in the Gaza Strip [BBC report].