(Allied) Popular Resistance Movement
Other Names: Popular Resistance Movement, Allied Popular Resistance Movement, PRM, APRM. In a January 24, 2015, statement from the now-defunct Allied Popular Resistance Facebook page, the group listed its allies: The Popular Resistance Movement, the Determination Movement, the Revolutionary Punishment Movement, the Movement for Revolution in Beni Suef, and the Execution Movement. Regional affiliates often take their location as part of their name, such as Popular Resistance Movement in Alexandria and Popular Resistance Movement in Giza.
Location: The group operates throughout the country, with attacks by affiliates from Luxor to North Sinai. Affiliates are most active in greater Cairo and the Nile Delta region, including Alexandria, as well as Fayoum and Beni Suef.
Characteristics: The Popular Resistance Movement is an affiliation of local actors and groups across Egypt that have typically utilized low levels of violence in order to combat both the Egyptian security apparatus and those they have seen as supportive of what they describe as “the coup,” referencing the military-backed ouster of former President Muhammad Morsi.
The majority of attacks that the group has claimed are focused on government institutions (including the police and military) and economic targets. The group typically carries out low-violence attacks using rudimentary weapons, including crude improvised explosives, Molotov cocktails, and stun or “sound” grenades. While the group utilizes social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, this utilization is often unsophisticated and uncoordinated when compared to better-organized groups like Ajnad Misr or Wilayat Sinai.
Recent leadership: The Popular Resistance Movement does not operate under clear leadership. The larger movement is divided across multiple cities, regions, and actors with no identifiable central core.
The group’s first public statement was spread through media associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, prompting speculation that the founders were disaffected Brotherhood youth, but the group’s official pages did not make an explicit claim to that effect and the relationship cannot be confirmed.
Background: There was an outburst of activity resembling that of the Popular Resistance Movement after the ouster of Muhammad Morsi in July 2013, but the movement emerged under its current name via a Facebook page created on January 25, 2014. On August 15, 2014, the group announced its intention to target security forces and the Popular Resistance Movement’s Facebook page was shut down by site administrators the same. At that time, the group also claimed to have broadcast a message over a national radio network, but that has not been confirmed.
The group has targeted the police and military, setting police stations and security vehicles on fire. The group also carries out disruptive acts such as torching cars in abandoned lots or blocking off roads with burning tires. While initially the group’s efforts showed an aversion to harming civilians, the nature of the attacks have escalated in terms of violence, including more sophisticated bombs being placed in cars near posted security guards or patrolling policemen and in areas with higher civilian presence. Since the beginning of 2015, there has been a shift to the group’s focus on economic targets, specifically international corporations such as communications companies Etisalat, Mobinil, and Vodafone and also international bank branches such as Emirates NBD banks. Additionally, there was also a rash of attacks on KFC restaurants in the region, including one attack that resulted in the death of an employee. There is evidence that many of these recent attacks were aimed at projecting a perception of economic and security instability in order to scare away foreign investors leading up to the economic conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in March 2015.
Ideology: The disparate nature of the allied movement does not lend itself to a rigid official ideology; however, its discourse is best described as “religiously nationalist” rather than jihadist, as the ideology revolves around nationalist causes like retribution for Morsi’s removal from power, rather than the jihadist mission of a unified caliphate or combating worldwide oppression of Muslims.
The group displays tendencies toward anti-capitalism and conservative Salafism, which also indicate a potential reason behind the shift of tactics away from pursuing government and particularly police targets toward the targeting of economic interests.
While there are indications of ties between the Popular Resistance Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, the extent of these links is unclear. It is, however, clear that the movement opposes the current Egyptian government and those they view as supporters of “the coup” removing Morsi from power. This includes foreign—particularly Emirati—companies that the group sees as bringing foreign economic intervention to Egypt, as well as domestic businesses and business leaders (making direct reference to Naguib Sawiris).
Notable Attacks: On February 3, 2015, authorities disarmed two rudimentary bombs found at Cairo International Airport. The Popular Resistance Movement claimed responsibility for placing these bombs and stated that their placement was to coincide with the arrival of Ginny Rometty, Chairwoman of IBM, to Egypt, possibly as an attempt to scare foreign investors.
On February 10, the group claimed a series of attacks on police stations in Alexandria. News reports indicated that ten people were injured in five separate IED attacks.
Revolutionary Punishment claimed credit for two attacks in Luxor in mid-March. One was an attack on the local court complex that wounded two; the other was a claimed attack on a police checkpoint in the area that destroyed a police vehicle and reportedly killed its passengers. The second attack was not widely reported.
On Tuesday, April 21, the Execution Battalion—alternatively called the “Execution Movement” or “Execution Battalion Movement”—carried out a highly coordinated assassination on a police colonel and his conscript. After gunning down the victims in a Cairo suburb, the assailants exploded a diversionary device and fled.