The Army of Islam was behind the deadly New Year’s Day church bombing in Egypt which killed twenty-three people outside a church in the city of Alexandria, intelligence report has revealed. However, the Palestinian based group claims it had no connection to the church attack in Egypt, but praised those who did it.
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, in an address broadcast on state TV, praised the police for their efforts to identify those responsible and said the attackers had sought to sow discord between Egyptian Copts and Muslims.
“If elements of the Palestinian Army of Islam, linked to al Qaeda, thought they had hidden behind elements that were recruited, we have decisive proof of their heinous involvement in planning and carrying out such a villainous terrorist act,” Interior Minister Habib el-Adli said in a speech.
El-Adli added that the Army of Islam had “relied on an Egyptian element” in setting up the attack that killed twenty-three people and wounded 97 people.
26-year-old Ahmed Lotfi Ibrahim Mohamed had confessed he had visited Gaza several times and was involved in planning the attack in Alexandria.
“Ahmed Lotfi Ibrahim Mohamed was arrested and he confessed he was tasked in 2010 to monitor Christian and Jewish places of worship and that he sent pictures of the Qideseen church in Alexandria to the Army of Islam” El-Adli added.
“We will not allow terrorism to shake our stability and horrify our people or attack the unity of Muslims and Copts. Egypt’s security and stability are targeted,” Mubarak said on state TV.
According to reports, an Iraq-based al Qaeda group had called before the attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up one tenth of the 80 million Egyptian population.
And while a spokesman for the Army of Islam, told Reuters in Gaza that the Army of Islam “has no connection to the church attack in Egypt, though we praise those who did it”, Palestinian based Islamist group, Hamas, rejected the idea of links between al Qaeda and Gaza militants and demanded Egypt provide evidence to back its claim.
“We confirm that there is no presence of the al Qaeda organization in the Gaza Strip and that all Palestinian factions and groups point their rifles against the Zionist enemy and only against the Zionist enemy,” said Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nono.
Egypt has experienced sectarian tensions over issues such as building churches, religious conversions or romantic relationships between Christians and Muslims.