Saturday, July 23, 2005

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Open Sharm al-Sheikh thread

Feel free to comment on the latest bombing in Egypt here.

I do not have anything to add that I haven't already said in this post from late 2002.

UPDATE: OK, two more things I can say, or rather link. First, this Washington Post story by Craig Whitlock suggests that the central Al Qaeda leadership has more direct control over the timing and location of terrorist attacks than the "franchise" model of Al Qaeda has suggested to date.

Second, is it my imagination or does this Canada TV story suggest Hosni Mubarak has seen Casablanca one too many times?:

Egyptian security forces have detained 70 people following Saturday's bomb blasts that killed at least 88 people.

The roundups came after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak vowed to hunt down the terrorists behind a series of coordinated bombings in a popular Egyptian Red Sea resort.

But none have been yet been accused of involvement in Egypt's deadliest-ever terror attack, officials said.

The police investigation appeared to be similar to the one that followed last October's attacks at the Sinai resorts of Tabas and Ras Shitan, when 3,000 people were detained.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interesting.... this New York Times story by Elaine Sciolino and Don Van Natta Jr. cuts against the Whitlock story in the Post. One intelligence official is quoted as saying, "Al Qaeda is finished. But there is Al Qaedaism. This is a powerful ideology that drives local groups to do what they think Osama bin Laden wants."

posted by Dan on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM


Notwithstanding the Taba bombings a few months ago my guess is that Egyptian security focuses its efforts on Cairo and the major destinations for Western tourists. These have been the sites of most terrorist attacks in the past.

The victims of the Sharm bombings were overwhelmingly Egyptian, no doubt partly because they took place after midnight. But this attack must have been in preparation for a long time and included people who knew the area, so it's unlikely the fact that it killed and injured mostly Egyptians was anything close to an accident. I am inclined to doubt Juan Cole's speculation yesterday that Sharm was chosen because Israeli tourists sometimes go there or that Friday's bombings had a connection to the interrogation of the murdered Egyptian diplomat in Iraq a few days ago.

Bin Laden's deputy Zawahiri is an Egyptian who was plotting assassinations and terrorist attacks on his own people a long time before he took up terrorism against Westerners. Obviously I am speculating here, but the possibility that al Qaeda has been searching for some time to find a way around Egyptian security and strike a spectacular blow in Egypt should probably be investigated. This attack killed large numbers of Egyptians because that's what it was primarily supposed to do.

posted by: Zathras on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM [permalink]

Additional support for what Zathras says comes from the chosen weekend for the bombing, the anniversary of the 1952 coup that overthrew the King. The plotters had to have known disproportionate numbers of the visitors in Sharm-al-Sheikh that weekend would be Egyptian.

And as for the Casablanca thing, Musharraf must have seen it with Mubarak.

posted by: P O'Neill on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM [permalink]

A personal note: Sharm is my wife and her family's favorite vacation spot on earth. We have fond memories of the Hilton Feyrouz, where we spent our first vacation together, and were looking forward to taking our children there. A pity that these bastards chose for their latest slaughter this outpost of undiluted beauty, gentleness and joy.

Note what's new with these (and the north London) bombings: unlike Taba and Luxor, the target this time around was primarily Egyptians, not tourists. If one were to tally the jihadist's death toll from all the attacks since 911, it's likely that muslim victims would far outnumber infidel victims, and that the targeted places would include more heavily muslim or mixed muslim/non-muslim places (such as north London) than non-muslim sites.

Also, look at the trend over the past year: increasingly, the places being targeted are those where muslims and "infidels" mingle freely, where diversity and liberal behavior and views flourish: Edgware. Sharm El-Sheik. The newly pluralist and democratic Iraq.

It would seem that the next front in this war is the attack on the pluralists and the integrationists. Which means that the most likely targets in this phase are the more liberal and multicultural neighborhoods in the major cities of Europe. Buckle your seatbelts, Parisians and Berliners and Amsterdamers.

posted by: thibaud on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM [permalink]

During the week of 7/7 (I had to use that!), I was in Columbia, SC/Atlanta/Minneapolis - I was driving from Columbia to Atlanta when I heard people at a gas station talking about the London bombings. I came back to Melbourne, Australia the following week. All the TV channels and MSM were talking about just one thing. Naturally. Blogs too, I think. Now the bombings in Egypt - how come we don't have round-the-clock coverage? Of course, I get it - the coverage is directly propotionate to the number of western people involved, and western interests impacted...

posted by: Nanda Kishore on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM [permalink]

...or the Western media with immediate access to the scene (because all Western media have offices in London), to witnesses (because all Londoners speak English), and to government sources (because British government officials are considerably more forthcoming with information than their Egyptian counterparts).

All of this is probably even more true of Australian than American media, though as I check Australian news websites infrequently I cannot say this for sure. Considering the limitations placed on them by Sharm's location and the Egyptian government there has been quite a lot of coverage of the bombings in the American press.

posted by: Zathras on 07.23.05 at 05:06 PM [permalink]

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