In the summer and fall of 2014, the jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the most virulent militant organization in Egypt, intensified its anti-government activity with a series of brutal attacks on security troops. At least 20 were killed in July in western Egypt and more than 30 soldiers were killed in late October in the Sinai Peninsula. In response, the government evacuated residents and destroyed nearly 800 homes on the border with Gaza to rid the area of "terrorist hotbeds" and to create a buffer zone to stop the flow of weapons and fighters between Egypt and Palestinians. The Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which translates to "Supporters of Jerusalem," stepped up its attacks on police and security forces after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in August 2013. In November, the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni militant organization that has terrorized Iraq and Syria in its bid to implement an Islamic state.
In February 2015, a group of Libyan militants aligned with ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped from Sirte, Libya. Egypt responded by launching airstrikes on weapons Derna, a militant stronghold in eastern Libya.