Late last week, the Rawdah Sufi mosque, located in Bir Al-Abed, northern Sinai, Egypt, was attacked, resulting in more than 300 deaths, and 128 casualties. The victims were gathered at the mosque for Friday afternoon prayers.
Open gun-fire and loud explosions occurred, with between 25 and 30 armed men carrying out the assault. This tragedy has been labeled as the deadliest attack in Egypt’s history.
According to CNN, in a statement made by Egypt’s state prosecutor, gunmen were placed outside the mosque before having entered. It was reported that the civilians in the mosque as well as those providing aid were primary targets. Ambulances were specifically ambushed before the arrival of security forces.
A witness confirmed that at least one of the men that carried out the attack was carrying an ISIS flag. The attack has not been claimed by ISIS as of yet. However, many speculate its similarity to previous ISIS attacks, as well as their open hatred of the Surfi Muslims. The New York Times refers to a previous video released by ISIS in 2016, which refers to sufism as “a disease”.
CNN further reported that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has declared a 3-day state of mourning. The President also noted that he will respond to the massacre with force and avenge those who have died. After the attack, air strikes have occurred in suspected terrorist areas.
The President’s response, while well meaning, may cause more strife than security in the region. The terror attack that occurred is a dreadful tragedy that came as a shock to all in the region. However, containing the jihadist insurgency in the region has proven to be a challenge.
President Sisi said in a statement that, “Egypt is facing terrorism on behalf of the region and the world.” Additionally, many international leaders have expressed their sympathies for the event, namely US President Donald J Trump, further vowing to continue the fight against terrorism.
The US issued a statement in allegiance to Egypt during this time, emphasizing the need of “the international community [to] continue to strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorist groups that threaten the United States and our partners and we must collectively discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence.”
The UN Secretary-General Guterres, additionally responded to the attack, calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Terror attacks have become commonplace over the years. With events occurring in countries like Paris, Belgium, London and more. Many techniques, protocols and technologies have been created to combat this issue. However, usually these guerrilla attacks escape authorities despite these efforts.
The hope is that Egypt along with fellow countries that have fallen victim to terrorism, can find peace and prosperity once again.