Friday, May 26, 2017

Egypt launches airstrikes in Libya after another terrorist attack targeting Coptic Christians kills 29

The wreckage of the bus that was attacked by militants. Egyptian TV/Reuters. 

Egypt has launched a retaliatory series of airstrikes against Islamic militants in Libya after another terrorist attack targeting Coptic Christians killed 29 and wounded 24 more. Reuters. President al-Sisi ordered the raids targeting Majlis al-Shura, a group that has connections to al-Qaeda, in Eastern Libya near Derna. The group has not taken credit for the attack and the attack has the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS, which has a active campaign against Coptic Christians in Egypt. The attack against the Copts targeted a bus convoy which was on its way to a monastery in southern Egypt. The attackers killed all the men in the convoy, robbed the woman and children and then shot them in the legs. 

My Comment:
Another brutal attack against Coptic Christians in Egypt. It appears that there is an effort to ethnically cleanse or genocide Christians out of Egypt. This is horrible since Egypt is home to one of the oldest Christian communities still left in the Middle East. The Coptic community is one of the oldest in existence, almost as old as Christianity itself, and it has faced persecution for years. It would be a massive tragedy if the Coptic community were to be wiped out or forced to flee Egypt. 

Nobody has taken credit for this attack, as far as I have been able to determine, but it has all the hallmarks of an ISIS attack. Specifically Sinai Province, ISIS's Egyptian branch. They took credit for the recent bombings of Coptic Christian churches and consider them to be worthy of death. They also have been very active in Egypt. 

Which makes me wonder why al-Sisi targeted the Majlis al-Shura group. From what I have been able to gather, al-Shura is part of Hamas and has connections to al-Qaeda. I haven't found any evidence of them being involved in attacks on Coptic Christians. I doubt they had anything to do with the attack in Egypt, even though I think they probably are a genuine threat. 

So why hit them then? I think al-Sisi is under extreme pressure to show that he does support the Coptic Christian community. Ideally he would have attacked ISIS in the Sinai peninsula but for whatever reason he wasn't able too. Perhaps he didn't have any good targets, but whatever the al-Sisi had to do something. And I am guessing an airstrike against some unrelated militants at least looks like it is doing something. 

I personally like al-Sisi as a leader and greatly prefer him to the Muslim Brotherhood government he replaced. But I do think that he does need to do more about ISIS in Egypt. Sinai province should be wiped from the earth and I think that Egypt needs to deploy more forces and weapons to the Peninsula to wipe them out. If that means they have to lessen their commitments to Yemen and other places then so be it. Still, there is only so much that can be done and we may be in the "diminishing returns" point already. 

This attack might be a prelude to a very violent Ramadan. Ever since ISIS has existed, Ramadan has been a bloodbath. In one day in 2015 ISIS killed hundreds of people in five separate attacks, two in Syria, one in Tunisia, one in Kuwait and one in France. Last year they murdered a cop and his wife in France and bombed the airport in Turkey. Plus, the worst terror attack in the United States, the Pulse nightclub shooting, occurred during Ramadan last year. 

There is a huge precedent for ISIS attacks during the Muslim holy month. Why? Because Muslims believe that if they are martyred or kill in the name of their faith during Ramadan, they will gain favor. It's basically a free ticket to heaven and it is very attractive for them to pull off attacks during the time. 

The bloody Ramadan may have started. We have already had this attack along with the major raid against Marawi city in the Philippines and the devastating attack against children attending the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. It is very possible that there will be more attacks coming. I am especially worried about the UK because it seems like the cell there is still active and the bombmaker(s) have not been caught, but everywhere is at risk.

Another worry I have is that the Manchester attack, and whatever else ISIS has in the pipeline, could overshadow this attack in Egypt. Though all attacks are important, I do feel that the genocide occurring against Christians in the Middle East is one of the most under-reported stories in the world. We should make sure to cover these kinds of attacks when they occur. 

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