Members of the terrorist cell belonging to Daesh, also known as ISIL and ISIS, have confessed to targeting Coptic monasteries and churches in Upper Egypt.
Sunday 21 May, Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadeq referred to military trial 48 men charged with belonging to the terrorist organisation Daesh, and with planning and organising the suicide bombings at three churches. The bombing at al-Boutrossiya church in Cairo on 11 December 2016 during Sunday Mass, and the twin bombings at the Tanta church of Mar-Girgis and the Alexandria St Mark’s cathedral on Palm Sunday, 9 April 2017, altogether claimed some 70 lives of Coptic churchgoers and three Muslim guards.
The 48 terrorists referred to trial include 31 who have been caught by the police and questioned by the prosecution, and 17 who are still at large.
The suspect Amr Saad confessed to monitoring the celebration of the Coptic mulid of Mar-Girgis in Ruzaiqat in Armant, Luxor, and investigating its security measures. A mulid is a folk celebration of a saint or holy figure; the tradition goes back to ancient Egypt and persists to this day in case of Egyptian Christians and Muslims. In case of Ruzaiqat, no less than 1.5 million people camp around the monastery during the mulid and, besides participating in the usial ritual prayers at the monastery; engage in festive activities of feasting, socialising, singing, and buying and selling from the thousands of vendors camped around. This is common practice in mulids.
Mr Saad also confessed to monitoring the two security checkpoints at Dairut in Assiut some 350km south of Cairo, and at Mallawi in Minya some 250 km south of Cairo, on the Assiut-Minya desert road. He was able to know the number of security men on each shift and their mobilisation, as well as the timing of their shifts and when and how they change. In November 2016, Mr Saad said he was on an observation task regarding the Monastery of St Macarius the Alexandrite in Fayoum, some 100km southwest Cairo. The sites should have been targeted shortly, he said, in the wake of the last suicide bombings in Alexandria and in the mid-Delta town of Tanta.
Walid Abul-Magd Abdullah Abdel-Aziz, another suspect, confessed to being a member of Daesh, a group which he said believes that the ruler and the entire regime, the armed forces and the police, are all kafir, meaning apostate or infidel. As such, it is the duty of true Muslims to battle them, overthrow them, and install in their place an Islamist regime that would rule according to Islamic sharia. According to Mr Abdel-Aziz, Daesh thus targets the ruler, State figures and institutions; also Christian lives, churches, and possessions which are considered legitimate property of true Muslims. It also stockpiles arms and ammunition to use for such purposes.
Mr Abdel-Aziz admitted to collaborating in the suicide bombing at Boutrossiya, and in attacking the security checkpoint at al-Naqab in January 2017, which claimed the lives of eight security men and two attackers.
The investigations revealed that 18 of the suspects belonged to the same extended family. The police are searching for the other Daesh members still at large. [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/interior-ministry-pledges-egp100000-for-information-on-perpetrators-of-church-bombings/19682/]