The Egyptian militant group, Hasm, claimed responsibility yesterday for its attack against Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo a day earlier, noting that it was a response to Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
“This bombing served as a warning to the embassy of murderers, killers of women and children in the Muslim Rakhine State [in Myanmar], and was in solidarity with the sons of this weakened Muslim population,” the statement said.
Myanmar’s military has sent more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh since August. Rakhine State, in Western Myanmar, has been the site of recent clashes between the military and local forces.
Hasm, the acronym for Harakat Sawa’id Masr, is the Arms Movement of Egypt. The group formally announced itself via Facebook in July of last year when it claimed responsibility for the murder of Egyptian Police Major Mahmud Abdel Hamid. The group stated: “We vow before God and the Egyptian people not to drop our weapons until our great people are liberated from the oppression of the military machine and its treacherous militias.”
The following month, Hasm claimed responsibility after two militants opened fire on former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, but failed to kill him. Other attacks followed, including a bombing attack near a police club, the assassination of a prosecutor, the killing of a policeman, and a botched car bombing of a judge.
In December, the group detonated a bomb near a police checkpoint in Giza, near the pyramids. The attack killed six policemen and injured three others.
Attacks claimed by Hasm continued over the summer. The government in Cairo has struggled to contain attacks from this group, as well as attacks from a less prolific group known as Liwa al-Thawra, particularly as it fights another battle against the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula.
Although the Egyptian government has alleged a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hasm, that connection is still subject to debate. Analysts have yet to make a definitive link, even if it is strongly suspected.
Hasm’s attack on a foreign embassy marks a shift in the group’s strategy. It had not carried out strikes against foreign targets in Egypt before.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.