2017 Sinai mosque attack

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Al-Rawda mosque attack

Part of the Sinai insurgency and Terrorism in Egypt

Location Al-Rawda, Bir al-Abed, North Sinai Governorate, Egypt
Coordinates 31°2′22″N 33°20′52″E / 31.03944°N 33.34778°E / 31.03944; 33.34778Coordinates: 31°2′22″N 33°20′52″E / 31.03944°N 33.34778°E / 31.03944; 33.34778
Date 24 November 2017 (2017-11-24)
1:50 PM EET (UTC+2)
Target al-Rawda mosque
Attack type
Bombing, mass shooting
Weapons IEDs, rocket-propelled grenades and firearms
Deaths 311[1]
Non-fatal injuries
at least 122[2]
Suspected perpetrators

Islamic State

Motive Anti-Sufism[3][4]

At 1:50 PM EET on 24 November 2017, the al-Rawda mosque was attacked by roughly 40 gunmen during Friday prayers. The mosque is located in the village of Al-Rawda[5] east of the town of Bir al-Abed in Egypt's North Sinai Governorate. It is one of the main mosques associated with the Jaririya Sufi order, one of the largest Sufi orders in North Sinai. The Jaririya order is named for its founder, Sheikh Eid Abu Jarir, who was a member of the Sawarka tribe and the Jarira clan. The Jarira clan resides in the vicinity of Bir al-Abed.[6][7] The attack killed 311 people and injured at least 122, making it the deadliest attack in Egyptian history.[1] It was the second-deadliest terrorist attack of 2017, after the Mogadishu bombings on 14 October.[8]

Attack[edit]

Al-Rawda Mosque, which is located on Sinai's main coastal highway connecting the city of Port Said to Gaza, belongs to the local Jarir clan, of the Sawarka tribe, who follow the Jaririya (Gaririya) Sufi order[9][10][11][12]—an offshoot of the movement of Abu Ahmed al-Ghazawi,[13][14] of the broader Darqawa order.[15] The mosque is on the road between El Arish and Bir al-Abed.[16] The mosque has a smaller zawiyah, a Sufi lodge, attached.[17]

According to local media, attackers in four off-road vehicles planted three bombs; the attackers used the burning wrecks of cars to block off escape routes. After their detonation, they launched rocket propelled grenades and opened fire on worshipers during the crowded Friday prayer at al-Rawda near Bir al-Abed.[10] When ambulances arrived to transport the wounded to hospitals, the attackers opened fire on them as well, having selected ambush points from which to target them. Local residents quickly responded, bringing the wounded to hospitals in their own cars and trucks, and even taking up weapons to fight back.[2][18][19]

Casualties[edit]

311 people were killed in the attack, including 27 children, and at least 122 others wounded.[6] Many of the victims worked at a nearby salt factory and were at the mosque for Friday prayers.[20][10]

Responsibility[edit]

No group claimed responsibility for the attack,[19] although there were reports that the attack appeared to be the work of Islamic State's Wilayat Sinai branch.[2] On 25 November, the Egyptian public prosecutor's office, citing interviews with survivors, said the attackers brandished the Islamic State flag.[21][22]

Islamist militants have been active in the Sinai since July 2013, killing at least 1,000 Egyptian security forces personnel.[23] According to The New York Times, in January 2017 an interview of an insurgent commander in Sinai appeared in issue five of the Islamic State magazine Rumiyah, where the commander condemned Sufi practices and identified the district where the attack occurred as one of three areas where Sufis live in Sinai that Islamic State intended to "eradicate."[1] The community had been repeatedly threatened to refrain from Sufi practices.[24]

Jund al-Islam, an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Sinai who were formerly affiliated with ISIL,[25] declared their innocence and condemned the attack on the al-Rawda mosque.[26]

Reactions[edit]

Egypt declared three days of national mourning following the attack.[27] Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the attack "shall not go unpunished".[19] The President also ordered the government to allocate funds for compensating families of the dead.[28]

The Muslim Brotherhood wrote on Twitter and Facebook that it "condemns in the strongest words" the attack and that those responsible should "renounce extremism and violence".[29][30] Al-Azhar University, Egypt's oldest accredited university, issued a statement condemning the attacks, adding "terrorism will be routed".[31][32]

One week after the attack, Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, along with Grand Mufti Shawki Allam and Religious Endowments Minister Mokhtar Gomaa, performed Friday prayers at al-Rawda mosque.[33]

The attack was widely condemned by the international community, with many world leaders issuing official statements and social media posts.[19] Turkey declared one day of national mourning on 27 November.[34]

The Supreme Council for Sufi Orders cancelled street celebrations of Mawlid throughout Egypt as a sign of mourning.[35]

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights strongly condemned the attacks[36], and weeks later issued a report that considered the massacre an attempt of genocide against the Sufi Muslim community of the Sinai Peninsula.[37] EOHR also called upon the Egyptian government to provide adequate protection for minorities.

A three-day opening of the border crossing into Gaza from Rafah, Egypt, scheduled for 25–27 November, was cancelled due to security concerns.[38] The Cairo International Film Festival stated in a press release its intention to continue with the festival, and condemned the attacks.[39]

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality building, the Library of Birmingham, the Kuwait Towers and the CN Tower were illuminated with the colors of the Egyptian flag as a sign of solidarity. The lights of the Eiffel Tower were extinguished as well.[40][41] The Royal Hashemite Court flew the Jordanian flag at half-mast.[42]

Military response[edit]

President el-Sisi vowed to respond with "the utmost force" and Egyptian authorities in the days immediately after the attack the Air Force claimed to have the pursued and destroyed of some of the militants' vehicles and weapons stocks.[27] Airstrikes were also conducted in the neighboring mountains.[43]

In February, 2018, Egypt responded to this attack with major air strikes and land assaults against terrorist positions in Sinai.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Walsh, Declan; Youssef, Nour (24 November 2017). "Militants Kill 305 at Sufi Mosque in Egypt's Deadliest Terrorist Attack". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c "The Latest: Egypt says death toll in mosque attack up to 200". Associated Press. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  3. ^ Specia, Megan (24 November 2017). "Who Are Sufi Muslims and Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them?". New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  4. ^ Ahmed, Azza Hashem (27 November 2017). "Opinion: Objectives of the Al-Rawdah Mosque attack in North Sinai". Egypt Today.
  5. ^ "Egypt's Mufti performs Friday prayers at Rawdah mosque - Egypt Today". www.egypttoday.com. Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  6. ^ a b "Death toll in Egypt mosque attack rises to 309". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  7. ^ Kholaif, Dahlia (25 November 2017). "Death Toll Rises to More Than 305 in Mosque Attack in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula". The Wall Street Journal. wsj.com. (subscription required). Retrieved 25 November 2017. "Al Rawda mosque, located about 25 kilometers west of Al Arish, is associated with the Sawarka tribe which follows the Sufi order of Jarir, in reference to Sheikh Eid Abu Jreir, a Sufi icon who lived in Sinai decades ago."
  8. ^ Adam Taylor, How parts of Egypt's rugged Sinai peninsula have become a terrorist hot spot, The Washington Post (24 November 2017): "It will also reaffirm that the Sinai Peninsula is one of the deadliest places for terrorist attacks in the world. The attack near Bir al-Abd is the second-deadliest terrorist attack of 2017 to date, second only to a suicide bombing last month in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left more than 358 dead."
  9. ^ Higazy, Mourad (24 November 2017). "Update: 305 dead, 128 injured in deadliest militant attack in Egyptian history". Mada Masr. madamasr.com. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "Militants attack Egyptian mosque, kill at least 235 people". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Sufis well-rooted in al-Rawda, but is there an all-out war on them?". english.alarabiya.net. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Inside the Rawda mosque: eyewitness accounts - Egypt Independent". Egypt Independent. 26 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  13. ^ Farid, Sonia (26 November 2017). "Egypt mosque attack: Is Sufism a new target for terrorists in Sinai?" Al Arabiya – English. Retrieved 26 November 2017. "Al-Rawda Mosque is home to the Gaririya Sufi order, one of the largest in North Sinai. The Gaririya, an offshoot of the Bedouin al-Ahmadiya order, is named after its founder Sheikh Eid Abu Garir, who is considered the godfather of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula and hails from the Sawarka tribe, the second largest in North Sinai."
  14. ^ Kisaichi, Masatoshi (2006). "'The Burhami order and Islamic resurgence in modern Egypt". Table 4.1, "Names of Sufi orders currently recognized in Egypt". In Masatoshi Kisaichi (ed.), Popular Movements and Democratization in the Islamic World. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415398961. p. 59.
  15. ^ Alexandrani, Ismail (2016). "Sinai: From Revolution to Terrorism". In Rougier, Bernard; Lacroix, Stéphane. Egypt's Revolutions: Politics, Religion, and Social Movements. New York: Palgrave MacMillan (Springer). pp. 179–196, here: 190. doi:10.1007/978-1-137-56322-4_10. ISBN 9781137563224.
  16. ^ Lee, Ian; Laura Smith-Spark; Hamdi Alkhshali (25 November 2017). "Egypt hunts for killers after mosque attack leaves at least 235 dead". CNN. Retrieved 25 November 2017. Gunmen fired on people fleeing after explosions took place at the mosque between Bir al-Abed and the city of al-Arish.
  17. ^ "Opinion: Objectives of the Al-Rawdah Mosque attack in North Sinai - Egypt Today". www.egypttoday.com. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  18. ^ "Deadly blast strikes mosque in Egypt's Sinai". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d Ian Lee, Laura Smith-Spark and Hamdi Alkhshali. "Egypt hunts for killers after mosque attack leaves at least 235 dead". CNN. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Egypt mosque attackers kill 235". BBC News. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Gunmen in Egypt mosque attack carried Islamic State flag, prosecutor says". Reuters. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  22. ^ Omar Fahmy & Patrick Marke (25 November 2017). "Gunmen in Egypt mosque attack carried Islamic State flag, prosecutor says". Reuters.
  23. ^ Eltahawy, Mona (24 November 2017). "Egypt Is Failing to Deal With Its Sinai Insurgency". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Egyptian village where mosque was attacked had been warned". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  25. ^ "(Jund-al-Islam) The first split in ISIS in Sinai". Center For Middle Eastern Studies.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ CNN, Tim Lister, (28 November 2017). "Why the massacre of Muslims in Sinai was too extreme for al Qaeda". CNN. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Egypt vows forceful response after massacre". BBC News. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Mosque Attack In Egypt's Sinai Kills At Least 235". NPR.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  29. ^ "اﻹخوان المسلمون - مصر". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  30. ^ Ikhwanweb. "Muslim Brotherhood condemns in the strongest terms terrorist attack in #BiralAbed #Siani, offers deepest condolences to victims' families". Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  31. ^ Ramadan Al Sherbini (24 November 2017). "Death toll in Egypt mosque attack rises to 235: state TV". Gulf News. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Turkey declares one day of mourning for Egyptians". Ensonhaber. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Al-Azhar grand sheikh performs Friday prayers at Rawda mosque - Egypt Independent". Egypt Independent. 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  34. ^ "Turkey declares one day of mourning for victims of terror attack in Egypt". Hürriyet Daily News. 26 November 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  35. ^ "No Street Celebrations of Mawlid al-Nabi to be Held in Cairo, Giza | Egyptian Streets". egyptianstreets.com. Retrieved 2017-12-02.
  36. ^ "The Terrorism Observatory harshly condemns Sinai Mosque attack «  The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights". en.eohr.org. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  37. ^ http://en.eohr.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Genocide-Report.pdf
  38. ^ "Sinai mosque massacre: What we know". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  39. ^ "Cairo Int'l Film Festival organisers condemn North Sinai mosque attack but say festival to continue". Al-Ahram. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Landmarks worldwide pay tribute to victims of Egypt mosque attack". abc news. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  41. ^ "Kuwaiti Towers lit up with Egypt's flag to honor martyrs - Egypt Today". www.egypttoday.com. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  42. ^ "Jordan lowers its flag to half-mast for Sinai's mosque attack victims". Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  43. ^ "Terror attack killing 235 Muslims praying on Friday is an 'unprecedented' atrocity in Egypt". The Independent. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  44. ^ Walsh, Declan (10 February 2018). "After a Mosque Massacre, Egypt Strikes Back in Sinai". New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2018.