Terrorist Attacks in Egypt

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on January 1, 2011

And likely caused by al Qaeda. Horrifying:

Government officials in Alexandria, Egypt, increased security around places of worship following an explosion that killed at least 21 people at a church in the region, the governor told state media Saturday.

“We are stressing now on guarding churches,” Adil Labib, the governor of Alexandria, told state-run Nile TV.

Evidence indicates that a suicide bomber caused the blast, the country’s interior ministry said.

Even though the scene of the explosion was blocked off, protesters carrying crosses gathered near the scene, Nile TV reported.

Authorities believe the bomber was killed in the blast, the interior ministry said in a statement. Forensic testing confirmed that the explosive device used was homemade and contained nails and ball-bearings, according to the statement.

Egypt’s health ministry said 79 people were wounded in the attack in Alexandria, the country’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. Four of them were police officers posted outside the church to protect the Christians worshipping inside, the interior ministry said.

[. . .]

“This terrorism act has shocked us, hurt hearts of the Egyptians, Muslims and Coptics,” said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who addressed the nation hours after the bombing. “I would say with confidence, that we will chase the people who planned and committed this terrorism act, and we will chase the people involved with them.”

A car parked in front of the Church of Two Saints exploded shortly after midnight, Egypt’s interior ministry said. Coptic Christians were attending services there at the time of the blast, Nile TV reported.

The car was filled with explosives, Nile TV reported, citing the interior ministry.

[. . .]

Labib told Nile TV that samples from the scene had been sent to a government lab as part of an investigation.

“The attack targeted all Egyptians and not just our Coptic brethren,” Labib said, according to MENA.

Egyptian officials are blaming foreign elements for the attack, MENA reported.

Copts, who are adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity, make up about 9% of the nation’s population. About 90% of Egyptians are Muslims.

[. . .]

In November, a group with ties to al Qaeda in Iraq announced that all Christians in the Middle East would be “legitimate targets.”

The analysis offered in the aftermath of the recent terrorist bombings in Sweden applies here; Coptic Christians haven’t exactly done anything to assist either in the military efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan, or to help in fighting the War on Terror generally, to make themselves targets of al Qaeda. Nor have they done anything to help the Israelis in their occupation efforts.

I do hope that the likes of Stephen Walt and Andrew Sullivan bear this episode in mind, the next time they try to argue that al Qaeda’s attacks are driven by opposition to American-led military efforts in the Middle East, or opposition to the Israeli occupation. Again, al Qaeda’s motivations are a lot more complicated.

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