The Islamic State’s branch in Sinai is working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliate Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip. Both groups have a shared enemy — Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, former army general and current president of Egypt.
ISIS is fighting an insurgency against Sisi’s government from the Sinai peninsula. Sisi became president in a democratic election after overthrowing the previous president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, in a popularly-backed military coup. Hamas received extensive support from Morsi’s government.
ISIS is now running a media center in the Gaza Strip itself, according to an investigation by The Times of Israel. The media center has published claims of responsibility for terrorist attacks within Egypt as well as propaganda for ISIS.
The two groups are coordinating to smuggle goods into Gaza via tunnels that traverse the border with Egypt. Recent ISIS attacks in the El-Arish region of Sinai were reportedly carried out using weapons smuggled from Gaza.
The Times of Israel reports that Egypt is aware of these connections but has chosen not to act for the time being, for reasons that are unclear.
The close cooperation between these two terrorist groups shows that for all its pretensions to be purely concerned with the Palestinian issue, Hamas is, at its core, an Islamist terrorist group just like ISIS.
For its part, ISIS would not be working with Hamas if it did not feel ideologically close enough to be able to justify the cooperation according to its strict doctrine.
Their cooperation shows not only that even ideologically committed groups like these are willing to be pragmatic, but also that the ideology that binds all such groups is more important than the specific name and theater of operations of any specific group alone.