Al-Ahram’s Khalil Anani has a good piece at Daily News Egypt on the recent bomb attack in Cairo. For those who aren’t intricately familiar with Egyptian intelligensia, take note of the source: Khalil is a respected scholar of political Islam, author of a good book on the Muslim Brotherhood, and from his perch on the 11th floor of Cairo’s prestigous Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, he hears whatever inside scoops there are to be heard. What he says here generally “fits the puzzle” as I see it:
It seems we are witnessing a new type of terrorism that can best be described as “random individual terrorism.” It is a pattern indicating the absence of a large organization taking responsibility for these operations.
Instead, small extremist cells made up of four or five members sharing a violent ideology and seeking to implement it on the ground could be behind the attacks, making it very difficult for security bodies to track them down.
But the question is: who is behind the Al-Hussein bombing? There can be several explanations: First there has been a large increase in Salafist discourse in Egyptian society over the past three years. I have repeatedly warned of the possibility of a change of thoughtamong the Egyptian Salafist trend, which opts for violence.
It is true that the Salafist movement is not interested in politics, but at a certain point, some of its members may show a desire to express their ideas in a violent way, as was the case in Taba, Dahab and Sharm El-Sheikh which were the target of terrorist bombings between 2004 and 2006. Small fundamentalist groups claimed responsibility for them.
Second, regional tensions, especially after the war on Gaza, and the political ascendancy of the conservative Israeli right, as well as deep Arab division, fan feelings of violence and the radical ideology of some small religious groups who seek revenge on behalf of the Palestinians.
Third, some new jihadists are bent on embarrassing and retaliating against the Egyptian regime as punishment for its regional policies especially during the war on Gaza. Targeting tourism, which is a major source of national income, could be part of this vengeance.
Finally, the bombings may be in response to international attitudes in favor of Israel, and thus increasing the anger of many categories within the Egyptian society, especially the marginalized and the underprivileged.