Islamic State broadcasts footage of Cairo Church attacker, promises more attacks

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Under the name of Islamic State in Egypt and with the headline of “Fight All Infidels”, the so-called Islamic State (IS) group released a new video, issuing fierce threats against the Coptic citizens of Egypt and accusing them of insulting Islam, threatening to carry out more attacks against them.

The newly released video showed a message by the perpetrator of the recent Cairo Church attack that resulted in the death of 29 Coptic citizens and caused massive destruction of the St. Peter and St Paul’s Church in December 2016.

The perpetrator, who appeared under the name of Abo Abdullah Al Masry urged IS affiliated militants in different parts of the world to liberate the detained Muslims in Egypt and said that they [IS] would reach Cairo soon.

The name of the perpetrator in the released video contradicts with the one previously published by the Egyptian authorities directly following the attack, which was Abo Degana El Kanani.

In the wake of the violent church attack, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced—during a state-sponsored funeral—that a suicide bomber was responsible for the attack.

At that time, Al-Sisi declared that the perpetrator’s name was Mahmoud Shafiq and that he was 22 years old. Moreover the Ministry of Interior asserted that Shafiq was detained for two months in 2014 and had received military training in camps related to the IS-affiliated group “Sinai Province” before his arrival in Cairo.

In response to the IS video, the Observatory for Extremist and Takfiri Thoughts, affiliated with the Dar Al-Ifta, issued a statement on Monday that carried commentary and analysis of the content of the IS video. The Observatory’s role is to monitor extremist views and provide a counter-narrative.

The Observatory noted that the released video is aiming to create sectarian strife between Egyptian Muslims and Coptic citizens by distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses and by portraying the relationship between Muslims and Copts as based on conflict and bloodshed.

It considered the released video as the most prominent one issued by the IS regarding the Cairo Church attack, adding that Egypt recently became more of a focus of IS propaganda and its video releases, referring to the media war against Egypt by the IS and its affiliates.

It moreover asserted that IS is aiming to incite sectarian strife between Muslims and Coptic citizens to repeat in Egypt what took place in Syria and Iraq.

“The most prominent observation of the IS-released video is the absence of the name ‘Sinai Province’ and that it instead uses Islamic State in Egypt; this step only aims to give the impression that ‘Sinai Province’ group’s operations exceed Sinai Peninsula and they had reached Cairo, especially following the Cairo Church attack that is considered a turning point in the IS terrorist work in Egypt,” the report read.

Regarding the content of the released video, the observatory noted that the video is working to exploit religious verses that are taken out of context to demonstrate that there is hostility between Muslims and Christians, who are [allegedly] mocking Muslims’ holy places and beliefs.

The Observatory said that the released video used some Qur’anic verses and the hadeeth from the Prophet Muhammad, explaining that these had been appropriate regarding definite incidents at the Prophet’s time, also stating that the IS video distorted them to portray them as verses that incite killing non-Muslims and considering them enemies at all times.

“They exploited Quran verses that have been issued for certain incidents in the past, they aim to trigger fears of both Muslims and Coptic citizens and set them up for confrontations that will lead to a total wedge [in society], facilitating the entry of IS into Egypt, exactly similar to what happened in Syria and Iraq,” the statement said.

Moreover, it asked Egyptians to be cautious of the malignant endeavours by the IS-released video that urges Egyptian Muslims to be hostile towards the Egyptian government—by depicting it as only protecting Egyptian Coptic citizens and supporting them in their alleged conflict with Muslims.

“The IS group aims to put Egyptian Muslim citizens in opposition to the Egyptian state by alleging that the government is only protecting  Coptic citizens and securing their churches  while it allegedly demolishes mosques, burns the Qur’an, and kills Muslims,” the Observatory’s statement continued.

By conjuring up these scenes, the group is seeking to promote hostility between Egyptian Muslims and the state, similar to the hostilities it fabricates between Muslims and Copts.

The statement concluded by calling on Egyptians not to follow this malicious propaganda and maintain their unity, adding that the terrorist groups only managed to take hold in Syria and Iraq after previously inciting sectarian strife there.

 

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