"Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) affiliate Wilayat Sinai has threatened to attack truck drivers who transport raw materials from the town of Sabika, west of al-Arish, to the North Sinai city port.
The group on Friday (January 5th) distributed leaflets threatening owners of vehicles that ship "raw materials such as salt and glass sands" to al-Arish port in order to be exported to "countries that fight ISIS".
The statement said transporting the materials "serves the interests of the Egyptian regime".
The group is trying to harm the livelihoods of 1,500 residents of Sabika and workers of El-Nasr Salines Company, said Hassan Ibrahim, a resident of North Sinai.
"ISIS is also trying to undermine one of the lifelines of Egypt’s economy," he told Al-Mashareq.
Ibrahim said that 80% of Egypt’s salt is produced in North Sinai, adding that al-Arish port alone exported 700,000 tonnes of salt last year.
"Security forces are now deployed around the area, and have already repelled an attack on a salt factory," he said.
They killed two gunmen while the rest fled to the desert to escape the artillery permanently stationed nearby the factory to defend it, he said.
Residents not fooled by ISIS threats
"Militants carrying ISIS flags tossed a human head [on Friday] at the crowded al-Atlawi Square before fleeing the scene," he said.
"ISIS is trying to spread panic among the local population by showing them that whoever violates the group's laws and orders will be punished," Ibrahim said.
"However, the residents well understand ISIS's attempts and know that it is drawing its last breath," he said.
ISIS is trying to appear as though it has control over al-Arish residents, "but this is contrary to reality", said Iman Ragab, an expert at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
"ISIS believes that preventing locals from working at the factories that serve the country’s economy, harming them in their own livelihoods and displacing some of them, is a victory," she told Al-Mashareq.
The group does not realise that residents "fully understand these threats and will not give in to ISIS's attempts" out of fear for their country’s interests, she said.