Suspected suicide bomber kills 21 in attack on Egyptian church


A car bomb attack outside a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, that killed 21 people is thought to have been carried out by a suicide bomber. The blast took place less that two weeks after al Qaeda in Iraq threatened to kill Christians.

A car packed with explosives was detonated outside the Al Qiddissine church just after midnight on New Years Day as Coptic Christians were celebrating the new year. The massive blast destroyed the church and damaged a nearby mosque. In the explosion, 21 people were killed and more than 80 were wounded.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said it believes the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, and that "foreign elements undertook planning and execution."

"It is likely that the device which exploded was carried by a suicide bomber who died among others," according to a statement released by the ministry.

The bombing occurred just 10 days after al Qaeda in Iraq issued a statement on the Internet threatening to attack churches in Iraq and kill Christians. In the statement, al Qaeda in Iraq said Christians must take several steps to avoid being targeted, and specifically mentioned Copts in Egypt.

"First, to publically disown what the lords of the Egyptian Church did in their war against
our sisters and brothers of those who converted to Islam, and criticize them," the statement read, according to a translation of the statement by Flashpoint Partners, a consulting firm that tracks jihadist media.

Al Qaeda in Iraq released the statement almost two months after it carried out the Nov. 1 suicide assault on a Christian church in Baghdad. More than 52 Iraqis, mostly Christians, were killed in the siege.

Egyptian terrorist leadership has made attacks on Coptic Christians a cornerstone of its strategy. Back in 1981, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the "blind sheikh" who is currently in US custody for his role in the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, advocated attacks on Coptic churches. In a fatwa, or religious edict, issued in the spring of that year, Rahman called for "the robbery and killing of Copts in furtherance of the jihad". Rahman was the leader of the Tanzim al Jihad, the predecessor of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al Zawahiri's terror group which merged with al Qaeda.

The attacks were likely carried out by al Qaeda offshoots related to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Egypt has banned the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and many of its leaders are in prison. Two al Qaeda-linked groups, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is named after al Qaeda's co-founder, and Tawhid and Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad) Group in Egypt, have claimed to have carried out attacks in Egypt since 2004.

In October 2004, three suicide attacks in the Sinai Peninsula at the Hilton Taba and at a campsite frequented by Israelis killed 34 people and wounded 171 more. Egyptian security forces claimed that a Palestinian named Iyad Saleh had recruited Egyptians and Bedouins to carry out attacks in Israel but attacked in Egypt instead.

In July 2005, 88 people were killed and more than 150 were wounded in a series of bombings at cafes and markets frequented by foreigners in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm al Sheikh. Both the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and the Tawhid and Jihad claimed they had carried out the Sharm al Sheikh bombings.

In April 2006, 23 people were killed and more than 80 were wounded in bombings at two cafes and a market in Dahab on the Gulf of Aqaba coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Tawid and Jihad in Egypt claimed it had carried out the bombings.


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READER COMMENTS: "Suspected suicide bomber kills 21 in attack on Egyptian church"

Posted by BullsEye at January 1, 2011 12:16 PM ET:

Despite the past attacks as mentioned at the end of this article, why is Al-Qaeda in Iraq only NOW making Christians the target and focus of their (little) remaining operational resources????

Why aren't they still trying to target Shia/Jaish al-Mahdi/Badr Brigades, or As-Sahwa?

Clearly, Al-Qaeda in Iraq's/Tawheed wal Jihad in Iraq's key element in their strategy, is always to stir the political and ethnic/religous friction lines that the AQI hopes will spark something akin to the Sunni-Shia civil strife in the 2006.

Other than that, all the "justificational" blabbering in their statements is just sheer BS designed to mask the FACT that Al-Qaeda in Iraq in particular KNOWS it's severe limitations and therefore strikes soft targets.

To call them weak losers would be too much of a compliment.

Posted by Charu at January 1, 2011 1:36 PM ET:

@BullsEye; because targeting Christians gets them the worldwide publicity that all terrorists crave. But the fact remains that these Sunni terrorists are at war with everyone who don't share their totalitarian ideology. And it isn't a small minority of the greater Sunni body either. Look no further than at how much support there is in Pakistan for their barbaric blasphemy laws. So much for the silent moderate majority.... the fact is that the Pakistani military, the true rulers of this nation, fully support these discriminatory laws.

Posted by BullsEye at January 2, 2011 6:31 AM ET:

@Charu Yes I agree with you there, but I am still puzzled by the increased focus on killing Christians only now. I know it's happened in the past but to make targeting Christians an operational imperative (which AQI has clearly done) show EXTREME weakness, because they aren't even targetting the Shia "Rafidha" anymore.

Worst of all, there is a very strong historical link between ISI/AQI/Tawheed wal Jihad and the main Al-Qaeda Central collective. First Al-Qaead in Iraq lost support from the Ummah for killing other Muslims in bombings (remember 2004, Abu Anas ash-Shami), then they went all out at killing the Shia. Then they lost support from the other insurgent groups and Sunni populace (as-Sahwa;Anbar).

And now Al-Qaeda in Iraq/Islamic State of Iraq is going after Christians in their churches. Christian CIVILIANS.


It looks like Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri are not going to outlive the major publicity headaches that their naughty child, AQI, is causing the movement.

Posted by Steve337 at January 2, 2011 8:32 AM ET:

I am surprised there are not more attacks of this nature. In terms of converts from Islam to Christianity (a huge "no no" in Islam), the Copts are at the forefront - perhaps due to their understanding of both, I'm not sure. But I have heard of several Egyptian Muslims converting to Christianity of late. The Islamic extremists have gotta hate this... again, I'm surprised there haven't been more (but I'm glad there haven't been!).

Posted by Nic at January 2, 2011 2:10 PM ET:

CNN states "A nearby mosque was also damaged in the blast and eight Muslims were among the wounded, the interior ministry said."
Looking at the attack from a solely Muslim point of view, an Islamic holy site was damaged and believers in Islam were harmed. What is painfully absent is the rage that should be present as a result of these two un-Islamic acts. What happened to Muslim umbrage?

Posted by Gaz at January 2, 2011 9:44 PM ET:

The Christians are now being made targets of attacks largely to take advantage of the high tensions that have recently emerged in Egypt between Christians and Muslims over 2 Christian women who allegedly converted to Islam and are allegedly being held by the Coptic Church against their will.

Posted by BullsEye at January 2, 2011 11:33 PM ET:

@ Nic

That's a major point that most have overlooked (incl. me).

The damage to the mosque by the terrorist bombing clearly indicates a complete lack of concern for their (terrorists) own religion and fellow Muslims.

This itself illustrates yet again the self-destructive "DNA" inherent in the jihadist ideology.

The media and PR damage to al-Qaeda is still waiting to be fully exploited, I mean, a Church (civilians) and a Mosque (another holy place) both damaged by the "noble, righteous" Al-Qaeda Organization.

Maybe Al-Jazeera will be objective and explore the attacks on Middle-Eastern Christians for once.

Posted by Charu at January 3, 2011 2:41 AM ET:

@steve; the copts were christian long before islam came into being. They are an ancient community who were christian before europe was christianized. @gaz is correct in that the current boiling over of tensions in egypt stems from muslim attempts to target coptic women for conversion; a.k.a. love jihad. This is an organized plan to change demographics by romancing young non-muslim women, and has been employed against sikhs and hindus in the uk and india. It probably also takes place against christian women in the west, but it hasn't made the news as yet. In india, young muslim jihad romeos are provided with money and flashy vehicles to aid them in meeting their targeted "quotas". Once suitably romanced, the women are converted to islam and face death if they ever try to leave and reconvert to their original faith; hence the bombings in egypt.

Posted by Dallas Painters HQ at January 3, 2011 9:17 AM ET:

Our religion does not promote hate nor violence, it is one of peace and prosperity and it shares that in common with most? if not all religions of the world. I am sure that no sane human being would approve of this very unfortunate incident. This was an ignorant bloodshed of innocent "EGYPTIAN" Coptic BROTHERS.I didn't say it means wise, what I said is that it means someone covered the truth up with some lies, so the truth would be buried in a cover of lies!!!Terrorism MUST STOP !

Posted by madashell59 at January 3, 2011 12:39 PM ET:

It is obvious that they have found that killing other Muslims wasn't working so now they are targeting what they hope to be unified enemies of Islam. As Charu pointed out their justification of the attack does not hold. The fanatics continue to find that their tactics of terror will not work if the world continues to support/protect the innocent.

Posted by ramgun at January 4, 2011 3:42 AM ET:

@Charu:

Your description about attempts to change demographics in India is correct, but selective. Much more large scale is the activities of Christian missionaries in India using money (I mean as bribes) to get Hindus converted. Not surprisingly, it has led to tensions in several states; and a hot debate on whether all conversions should be banned.

Compared to this, conversion to Islam pales in numbers and significance

Posted by Neonmeat at January 4, 2011 11:41 AM ET:

@Nic
@ Bullseye,

You may find the following video link interesting. (re. Muslim Casualties caused by Islamic Terrorism). A 4min piece from Al Jazeera titled 'Inside the Mind of A Suicide Bomber'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA7h3jlQpG0

In the film the 'recruit' openly states that he does not believe it is possible for Muslims to be harmed by Islamic acts of Terror, or that they have been harmed in attacks.

Posted by BullsEye at January 4, 2011 1:44 PM ET:

@ neonmeat

Conversion to any other religion FROM Islam is never considered pale in significance by Muslim clerics, because the basis, the very core of Islam's ability to eventually become a major (even dominant) factor in a society hinges entirely on the permission for people to have freedom to choose Islam, despite the fact that that same freedom to choose Islam is not guaranteed or allowed in a Muslim-dominated society.

We can string a long discussion about India, and I liked your effort/s to put things in perspective, but the unfortunate reality is that Muslims have far more legislative support to practice their religion in the West than non-Muslims do in Muslim-majority societies/countries.

Posted by BullsEye at January 4, 2011 1:53 PM ET:

@ neonmeat

Thank you for the link to the al-Jazeera video, unfortuantly it opens a Youtube video that relates the assassination of Pakistan's Punjabi governor for apparently calling blasphemy laws in Pakistan (straight from Islamic Sharia) "black".

However, I do not udnerstand the relevance/point of what the bomber thinks. Is he or others like him alive now to determine if they are causing other Muslims or other civilians to die? Nope. And what it the experience of Iraqis, enough of them to turn on Al-Qaeda in Iraq and it's Islamic "state" of Iraq? They originally opposed the US military but then sided with them.

Posted by Neonmeat at January 5, 2011 8:07 AM ET:

@Bullseye
My post was in relation to your comment about the damage to a Mosque in the Suicide Bombing and I thought it adds the perspective of the mind set of the Bombers in that they are indoctrinated to believe they cannot harm Muslims.

The point is that the bomber obviously does not want to kill Muslims and does not believe he will, so the fact that a Mosque was damaged is irrelevent as far as the people committing these acts are concerned.

I could not agree with you more regarding your point on freedom of religion. In my country, the UK, a group of Islamists like to heckle our Soliders parades and call them murderers, however if Christians were to do this in a Muslim country like Pakistan they would go to jail, or worse.

I would argue that most Muslims are not converts they are born in to the faith and therefore choice does not come into it. As apostasy is the most heinous crime in Islam very few ever officially convert away, or as you state, in most Muslim countries they do not have the choice to leave their religion.

Posted by Marine Mom at January 5, 2011 8:09 AM ET:

Let's call these radicals who strap bombs to themselves or pack their cars with bombs "homicide bombers". That's what they are for God's sake! They kill OTHERS, not just themselves!

Posted by BullsEye at January 5, 2011 12:00 PM ET:

@ Neonmeat

Thanks for clarifying things; I can see what you mean about the suicide bomber, mosque damage-scenario, etc.

It is incredible how much power and influence not only radical but also politicized "moderate" Muslim groups are gaining in Europe and with very high Muslim birth-rates, one wonders where the opposition to Islamic extremism will come from in 60 -80 years time. Hopefully, this long war will have ended.

Posted by aldrin james at January 6, 2011 8:40 AM ET:

It is just so sad to hear news like that. I still can believe that a man can do such thing. I wish this kind of crime will be stop someday.