Footage released by the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, known as IS-Sinai Province, shows the militants successfully target a military helicopter with a guided missile.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack on Arish International Airport in North Sinai. The jihadists claimed to have used a Russian-made 9M133 Kornet anti tank guided missile to destroy the military transport helicopter.
The damaged aircraft was part of the transportation command group of Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy and Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar who had been making an unannounced visit at the time. The IS-linked group claimed they had prior knowledge of the Egyptian officials' visit, although it's likely they had been sitting there for days or weeks, waiting for an official looking target.
Two military personnel were killed in the attack, Lieutenant Colonel Ismail al-Shehaby and the pilot Colonel Refaat Mondowa. Additional reports also indicate that another soldier was wounded. Judging from the video, the dismounted command group was making their way back toward the aircraft. A little tactical patience from the missile team could have resulted in several more, politically significant casualties.
As demonstrated by the video, ISIS in Sinai is very well-equipped. Most of their arms seem to have originated from dead Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's military stockpiles that were pillaged during his violent overthrow. An estimated 21 million units of military hardware, including small arms, heavy machine guns, Grad missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, etc., went missing during the downfall of the Libyan regime. It is uncertain how many of these Kornet ATGMs the Islamic State group has, and considering they have a range of 5km, they remain a constant threat to the Egyptian government.
Prior to declaring allegiance to self declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State - Sinai Province was known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. They had been receiving material support from Ansar al Sharia, the al Qaeda-linked group partly responsible for the murder of six Americans in the September 11, 2011 attack on the US consulate and CIZ Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Since joining the ranks of ISIS, the group has been massively bolstered with international support of fighters and equipment from various Salafist-friendly terror sponsors.