The Egyptian Interior Ministry announced today that they had busted up a terror cell planning to bomb a church in Alexandria tomorrow on Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The cell also was planning attacks on the fourth anniversary of the June 30 revolution that led to the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.
( بيان وزارة الداخلية )
إستكمالاً لمجهودات وزارة الداخلية المتصلة بالحفاظ على حالة الإستقرار الأمنى بالبلاد… https://t.co/a6yvrhoGPI
— وزارة الداخلية (@moiegy) June 24, 2017
#مصر | شاهد.. اعترافات خلية #الإسكندرية الإرهابية المخططة لتفجيرات الكنائس pic.twitter.com/k7c93TnIjt
— اليوم السابع (@youm7) June 24, 2017
The Times of Israel reports:
Egyptian police said on Saturday they foiled a church bombing by arresting a cell including the would-be attackers, two months after suicide bombers killed dozens of church goers in two attacks.
Six members of the cell including two “suicide bombers” planning the attack on an Alexandria church were arrested in the Mediterranean city, the interior ministry said in a statement.
It said one attacker had planned to detonate an explosive vest inside the church and the other to blow himself up when police arrived to the scene.
Here are pictures of four of the six terror cell members arrested.
Just a month ago I reported here at PJ Media on the execution of 28 Coptic Christians by terrorists as they were on their way to make pilgrimage to a Coptic monastery in Minya province. Many of those murdered were women and children.
On Eve of Ramadan, Islamic Gunmen Kill 28 Coptic Christians on Pilgrimage in Egypt https://t.co/AenrRu6kqE via @pjmedia_com pic.twitter.com/2wyfSR5fdk
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 26, 2017
The attack occurred just hours before the beginning of Ramadan.
#BREAKING #ISIS Naba mag has an infographic on attacks against #Egypt's #Copts, tying #Minya shootings to 1st day of Ramadan.
— Zack Gold (@ZLGold) June 1, 2017
Here are interviews with some of the survivors of the Minya bus attack last month:
Julia – one of the survivors from the #Coptic bus attack by #ISIS.#CopticChristians #christiantwitter #JesusSaves https://t.co/Jyr6caElCE
— CYC TV (@cycnow) May 31, 2017
Heartbreaking stories from survivors and relatives of the bus martyrs.#CopticChristians #Coptic #EgyptAttack #Jesus https://t.co/dYScfhr4JI
— CYC TV (@cycnow) May 31, 2017
One of the victims of the bus attack was Mohsen Morkous, an American from Tinley Park, Illinois:
Illinois man among 26 killed in Egypt after Islamic militants opened fire on bus carrying group of Coptic Christians https://t.co/dx1IIWKGoe pic.twitter.com/OU6jrOitMl
— ABC News (@ABC) May 29, 2017
That was the fourth mass killing targeting Coptic Christians in six months. The first was the suicide bombing of the Two Saints Church inside the cathedral compound in Cairo in December that eventually killed 29, all but one of whom were women and girls:
25 Coptic Worshippers Killed by Terror Attack in Cairo Cathedral https://t.co/R6gtvvnOd7 #trending pic.twitter.com/hzBoE1N8zJ
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) December 11, 2016
Cairo Cathedral Bombing Killing 25 During Church Service Fits a Familiar Pattern https://t.co/Xc9ODRGSoj
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) December 11, 2016
Last month I reported on my visit to the church during my recent trip to Egypt:
EXCLUSIVE: My Visit to the Site of the December Coptic Church Suicide Bombing in Cairo https://t.co/EfsTPiJUbD via @pjmedia_com pic.twitter.com/PvjwQv4g3o
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 9, 2017
In April two suicide bombers targeted churches in Alexandria and Tanta on Palm Sunday, killing 49 altogether:
Two Blasts Strike Coptic Churches On Palm Sunday in Egypt, 29 Reported Dead https://t.co/oCNcDzrqMB via @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 9, 2017
An attack on a monastery near Assiut in Upper Egypt following the dual suicide bombings was thwarted by authorities:
Egyptian Authorities Stop Planned Islamic State Terror Attack on Coptic Monastery in Upper Egypt https://t.co/4OkqS82F14 via @pjmedia_com pic.twitter.com/tfLGO1X3CN
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 12, 2017
A series of murders targeting Copts Sinai in February prompted most of the Christian community to flee to cities on the other side of the Suez Canal:
Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians Flee Sinai After Series of Islamic State Murders, Video Threat https://t.co/1svJwYCUDc @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 25, 2017
Coptic Christians have been murdered throughout Egypt since the beginning of the year, beginning with a shop owner in Alexandria who had his throat slit for selling alcohol in his store:
Egypt: Islamist Murders Christian for Selling Alcohol in Alexandria https://t.co/7B2DorNQAf via @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) January 3, 2017
Other killings targeting the Coptic community have occurred:
More Coptic Christians Murdered the Past Two Months Than Admitted As Refugees During Obama's Presidency https://t.co/AtDG82LqaU @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 14, 2017
The Islamic State has threatened more attacks:
New Islamic State Video Threatens Egyptian Christians, Shows December Church Suicide Bomber https://t.co/S1K2XdzQOd via @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 19, 2017
The Muslim Brotherhood has also incited more terror attacks targeting Christians:
'Moderate' Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt's Coptic Christians https://t.co/p8gxCnxsd3 via @pjmedia_com
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 29, 2017
But the Coptic Christian community also has to worry about sectarian attacks by locals, and sometimes their own neighbors:
New Attacks on Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt — But It's Not the Islamic State https://t.co/9i851gdNj2 via @pjmedia_com pic.twitter.com/iw0bWRAtVy
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 14, 2017
The sectarian attacks, mainly focused in Upper Egypt where most Christians live, occur regularly:
Attacks on Egypt's Copts are becoming so commonplace that they no longer interest Western audiences. https://t.co/CUs0eFtuG6
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) June 21, 2017
And can be set off sometimes for even the most benign causes:
#Egypt Christians "face violence…at the hands of their Muslim neighbors over the issue of building churches." https://t.co/COOJF1PZwG
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) June 23, 2017
Earlier this month, NPR reported from a village outside Minya where a number of Coptic men who had been beheaded by ISIS in Libya were from:
NPR's Jane Arraf visited the province with #Egypt's highest percentage of Christians. https://t.co/2WjiTFOx31
— Spectrum News (@ProNewsViews) June 15, 2017
Families of those Coptic martyrs were targeted by attacks just weeks after their murders:
Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Mob Attacks Family of Coptic Christian Martyr Beheaded by ISIS in Libya http://t.co/GRIbRvEI1f #tcot
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) March 29, 2015
Egypt is a bellwether for Christians in the Middle East as there are more Christians living in Egypt than in the rest of the region combined.
The attacks have increased since 2011 and the beginning of the Arab Spring, and have escalated rapidly during the Muslim Brotherhood rule in 2012-2013. That culminated in the arson attacks on more than 70 churches and monasteries throughout Egypt in August 2013 by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood:
Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood's August 2013 'Reign of Terror' Targeting Egypt's Christians https://t.co/Rf31VJzz4z #homelandsecurity
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) August 14, 2016
With ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood under increasing pressure, attacks on the Coptic Christians are intended to destabilize the administration of Egyptian President Sisi.
Hopefully, the arrest of this terror cell is an indication that Egyptian authorities are getting a handle on rolling back this threat.
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