The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Terror group or decoy?

How convenient:
CAIRO - The Egyptian government said on Wednesday it had broken up a group of at least 22 militant Muslims planning bomb attacks on tourist targets, a gas pipeline near Cairo and Muslim and Christian religious leaders.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement the underground organization called itself the Victorious Group and had members in suburbs northeast and south of the capital.

"Information, documents and interviews ... confirmed that they were studying carrying out terrorist operations against tourist targets, the gas pipeline on the Greater Cairo ring road and some sensitive sites through bombings," it said.

"They were also studying targeting some Muslim and Christian religious figures and ... what they called degenerate youth in tourist areas," it added.

The statement listed 22 members, led by a 26-year-old humanities student named Ahmed Mohamed Ali Badr, but did not say how many of them had been arrested.

It said they had downloaded from the Internet information on how to make explosives and poisons but did not indicate they had succeeded in making them. It did not mention any weapons.

The ministry said Badr, known by the nickname Abu Musab, and his assistant "adopted the approach of jihad based on takfiri fundamentalist ideas". Takfiris say that Muslims who disagree with their ideas are not true Muslims.
Don't mean to be flippant about a possible terrorist threat, but this regime has a track record of inventing terrorist groups, arresting a bunch of people, trying them in military courts and then we never hear about them again. Or if they're lucky they'll get a State Security Court and a bent judge. Plus it seems awfully convenient just before the Emergency Law is due to be renewed (because in case you missed it, Hosni said that anti-terror law he promised won't come for another two years.) And weren't they saying not so long ago that there were no terrorist groups operating inside Egypt, and that the Taba, Sharm Al Sheikh and Cairo bombings were either Bedouins, Palestinians or isolated individuals?

Therein lies the fundamental insecurity of running a police state: how do you know when the threats are real or made up?

Update: Of course the same thing can be said of the recent find -- shock, horror -- that Hamas may be stashing weapons in Jordan. What great timing for Jordanian security to have suddenly stumbled upon this. They must have been saving it for the right moment.