Terror in Egypt, Lebanon

As Condoleezza Rice arrived in Israel yesterday, a series of simultaenous explosions, including four car bombs, ripped through luxury hotels and shops in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik in the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 83. The attack, Egypt’s deadliest ever, targeted a resort popular with Israelis and Europeans. Two Britons, two Germans and an Italian are among the dead. Claiming responsibility on an Islamist web site are the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, also known as “al-Qaeda in Syria and Egypt,” which had also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34. The group also claimed responsbility for a Cairo bombing in late April. (AP, July 23)

Hours earlier, an explosion rocked a busy street of restaurants and bars in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut, leaving one dead and several wounded. (AP, July 23)

The blast occassioned Rice’s surprise visit to Lebanon to urge the new government to implement the part of resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah and the Palestinian refugees in their camps, which was met with angry reactions. Sheikh Abdulamir Qabalan, deputy chair of the Lebanese Islamic Shiite Council, warned in his Friday sermon that “if the U.S. Secretary of States’ visit to Beirut aims at intervening in the Lebanese affairs, then it is an unaccepted issue.” He called for preserving close relations with Syria and blasted what he called “Israel’s role in destabilizing Lebanon through the assassinations it carried out in the country”. (Arab Monitor, July 23)

Syria claimed last week that as many as 37 of its workers in Lebanon were killed in revenge after Hariri’s assassination, which was blamed on Syria and its allies in Lebanon. (UPI, July 23)

See our last posts on Egypt and Lebanon, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.

  1. Gunbattle with Sinai Bedouin
    From AFP, July 26:

    Egyptian police exchanged fire with gunmen on Monday as they hunted for six Pakistanis suspected of involvement in deadly bombings in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

    The firefight with bedouin gunmen erupted in the mountainous interior of the Sinai Peninsula some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the scene of Saturday’s carnage on the coast, security officials said.

    It came after police surrounded the nearby villages of Khurum and Rweissat in overnight raids, they said.

    “Two Pakistanis had been staying there and it is suspected that the bombs were assembled in this area,” an intelligence source said.

    The source said that fighting ended late on Monday. There were no reported injuries or arrests but the police left a small contingent to watch the area.


    Saturday’s pre-dawn attacks, which analysts said were an attempt to destabilize Egypt in the run-up to the first competitive presidential elections on September 7, were first claimed by an Al Qaeda-linked group.

    Another group calling itself Mujahideen Egypt also claimed the attacks on an Islamic Website and gave the names of five “martyrs”.


    A third previously unknown Islamist group posted an Internet statement on Tuesday claiming the weekend’s deadly bombings in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. The Unity and Jihad Group in Egypt said that it carried out the attacks “in revenge for our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan … and in response to the war against terror”.

    “It was also out of loyalty to the leaders of the mujahideen within the Al Qaeda network, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden and Sheikh Ayman Al Zawahiri, may God preserve them,” said the statement, the authenticity of which could not be verified.