Six-Person Terror Cell Behind Thwarted Church Attack

ICC Note: Authorities investigating last weekend’s (August 11th) attempted terrorist attack against a church in Northern Egypt have uncovered a terrorist cell behind the plot. This cell had chosen to target the church because Christians were celebrating a major religious holiday, which also occurs just days before a major Islamic holiday. The cell, which included two women, had laced nails with poison to ensure that the blast would cause fatal injuries.     

08/18/2018 Egypt (The Tablet) –   Egyptian authorities have arrested four men and two women suspected to be members of a terrorist cell behind a failed suicide attack on a church in Qalubiya governorate, the interior ministry said in a statement last Sunday.

On Saturday afternoon, a suicide bomber targeted a historic church in Egypt, where hundreds of Coptic Christians were celebrating the Virgin Mary’s birthday (a religious celebration as Copts fast from Aug. 7-22). Two people were injured and the bomber was killed.

The bomber, who was wearing a suicide vest, attempted to infiltrate the crowds of Copts outside Virgin Mary Church in Mostorod, Shubra Al-Khiema, north of Cairo, but he failed to reach the crowd because of the high security deployment so he blew himself up a distance from the target, officials said.

Islamist militant groups, affiliates to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have claimed responsibility for several attacks on Coptic Christians in recent years. Although no group announced responsibility for Saturday’s attack, a lot of militants in Egypt are inspired by the Islamic State group. The interior ministry identified the bomber as Omar Mohamed Ahmed, 29 years old.

After searching the bomber’s home, police found a Russian pistol, 27 machine-gun bullets, documents containing a detailed explanation of manufacture of explosive devices, around 71 thousand Egyptian pounds and two bottles of chloroform used in explosives devices.

Also, the suspects of the terrorist cell had two automatic weapons, an Uzi pistol, 9-mm pistol, a large quantity of ammunition, half a kilo of gunpowder, nitrate, aluminum powder and acetone used in the manufacture of explosives, according to the interior ministry. Moreover, the suspects had a several electric circuits, remote control, a jar with an unknown liquid substance, a sack full of nails and a half a million Egyptian pounds, in addition to three cars, the statement added.

Two of the suspects admitted that they added poisonous matter on the nails used to make the explosive devices to cause fatal injuries.

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