Egypt ac­cuses Brother­hood of sup­port­ing Church at­tack­ers

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Egypt’s In­te­rior Min­istry has ac­cused fugi­tive Mus­lim Brother­hood lead­ers who have fled to Qatar of train­ing and fi­nanc­ing the per­pe­tra­tors of the bomb attack on a Cairo church that killed 25 peo­ple. It said in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed the group was led by a sus­pect who re­ceived fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port and in­struc­tions to carry out the at­tacks by Brother­hood lead­ers re­sid­ing in Qatar. The Mus­lim Brother­hood had de­nied any in­volve­ment with the ex­plo­sion at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church on Sun­day.

The in­ci­dent was the dead­li­est attack in re­cent mem­ory on the Chris­tian mi­nor­ity, who make up about 10 per­cent of Egypt’s pop­u­la­tion. In a state­ment, the in­te­rior min­istry said in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed 22-year-old Mah­moud Shafik Mo­hamed Mostafa, the sus­pected sui­cide bomber, had been ar­rested in 2014 while se­cur­ing Mus­lim Brother­hood con­voys while armed. He was re­leased in May the same year. Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah El-Sisi had named Mostafa as the sui­cide bomber ear­lier on Mon­day, dur­ing a fu­neral held for the vic­tims.

Mostafa was wanted for two other cases in con­nec­tion with fun­da­men­tal­ist groups, the min­istry said in the state­ment. DNA test­ing of body parts found at the scene matched with his fam­ily, it said. Dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, author­i­ties found two ex­plo­sive belts ready to be det­o­nated, as well as other ma­te­ri­als used to make ex­plo­sive de­vices, at a hide­out used by Mostafa and his group. The attack oc­curred dur­ing Sun­day ser­vice at the church ad­ja­cent to Saint Mark’s Cathe­dral, the seat of Cop­tic Pope Tawadros II. There has been no claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing, but Cop­tic Chris­tians have been pre­vi­ously tar­geted in Egypt.

The in­te­rior min­istry also named the four other peo­ple whom Sisi said had been ar­rested. Rami Mo­hamed Ab­del Hameed Ab­del Ghani is sus­pected to have pro­vided refuge for the sui­cide bomber, pre­par­ing him, and hid­ing the ex­plo­sives. The three oth­ers are Mo­hamed Hamdi Ab­del Hamid Ab­del Ghani, Mohsen Mostafa el-Sayed Qassem, and Ola Hus­sein Mo­hamed Ali, a woman. The de­tainees will be pre­sented to state se­cu­rity pros­e­cu­tion, while author­i­ties are still chas­ing oth­ers, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. It said the group was led by sus­pect Mo­hab Mostafa el-Sayed Qassem, also known as “The Doc­tor”, who trav­elled to Qatar in 2015 where he met with some Mus­lim Brother­hood lead­ers who had fled Egypt.

Qassem was of­fered fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to carry out at­tacks in Egypt and upon his re­turn, he trav­elled to North Si­nai prov­ince, where Is­lamist in­sur­gents trained him in us­ing weapons and mak­ing ex­plo­sive de­vices. When Qassem re­turned to his home in Cairo, the Brother­hood mem­bers re­sid­ing in Qatar in­structed him to start pre­par­ing and plan­ning for at­tacks tar­get­ing Copts. The at­tacks were “aim­ing to fo­ment a large-scale sec­tar­ian cri­sis” with­out link­ing the group with th­ese at­tacks, the in­te­rior min­istry said.

The in­te­rior min­istry state­ment claims a group named The Egyp­tian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Coun­cil, an al­leged arm of the Brother­hood, has is­sued a state­ment on De­cem­ber 5 “vow­ing to tar­get the heads of the Ortho­dox Church be­cause of its sup­port for the state.” Sun­day’s blast was the worst attack on the Cop­tic Chris­tian com­mu­nity since a 2011 sui­cide bomb­ing killed more than 20 wor­ship­pers out­side a church in the coastal city of Alexan­dria. Copts have faced per­se­cu­tion and dis­crim­i­na­tion dat­ing back to the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was top­pled by a pop­u­lar up­ris­ing in 2011.

Af­ter the 2013 ouster of Mus­lim Brother­hood pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi, his Is­lamist sup­port­ers ac­cused the Chris­tian com­mu­nity of sup­port­ing his over­throw. They pointed to the ap­pear­ance of Tawadros next to Sisi in July 2013, when the then army chief-also sur­rounded by Mus­lim and op­po­si­tion fig­ure­san­nounced Morsi’s re­moval on tele­vi­sion. Fol­low­ing the deadly dis­per­sal by se­cu­rity forces of two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in Au­gust 2013, at least 42 churches were at­tacked, as well as dozens of schools, houses and busi­nesses be­long­ing to Copts, ac­cord­ing to Hu­man Rights Watch. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.