Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1307, (11- 17 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Thwarted attack

Former mufti Ali Gomaa survives an assassination attempt, Ahmed Morsy reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Former mufti Ali Gomaa survived an assassination attempt in 6 October city on Friday noon.

Four masked gunmen exchanged fire with Gomaa’s bodyguards as he was on his way to Al-Fadel Mosque, some 50 metres from his house, to lead Friday prayers. The cleric escaped unharmed while one of his personal security guards received a minor injury in the ensuing crossfire.

The Interior Ministry says gunmen were hiding in one of the gardens located between Gomaa’s house and the mosque when they opened fire. “Gomaa’s guards exchanged fire with the militants forcing them to flee,” the ministry said.

Four hours after the attack the little known militant group Hasm (Decisiveness) claimed responsibility in a statement published in its Facebook page. The group, formed just three weeks ago according to its Facebook page, said the presence of civilians in the area thwarted the attack.

Hasm claimed it had targeted Gomaa because he “is the sheikh of hypocrisy” and “a supporter of military regimes”.

The group earlier claimed responsibility for killing a policeman in Al-Fayoum on 17 July.

Gomaa, who called his assailants “dogs of hell” on his Facebook page, insisted on delivering his Friday sermon following the attack and led prayers in which he talked about “upholding the word of justice”.

“This is a message to (the terrorists) that I will never waver in my war against them,” Gomaa, who served as the grand mufti for almost a decade until 2013, told state television.

In a separate statement Gomaa said the attack was intended to distract people from celebrations to mark the anniversary of the New Suez Canal on Saturday. He also linked his attackers with both Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The attack is a reaction to the army’s elimination of their leader,” said Gomaa, referring to the army operation in North Sinai that killed Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis commander Abu Duaa Al-Ansari alongside 45 members of the terrorist group. “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis to Al-Qaeda and IS, derive from one source, the Muslim Brotherhood,” added Gomaa.

Brotherhood leaders Ahmed Rami and Mohamed Sweidan were quoted by Arabi21 and Anadolu news agencies condemning the assassination attempt and rebuffing accusations of Brotherhood involvement. “Volence is not the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. We always condemn  violence as a means to solve problems,” said Sweidan.

Gomaa once argued Muslim Brothers are not true Muslims and Egypt’s  police and army should carry arms against them.

Military expert Khaled Okasha said it was very likely that Hasm was an offshoot of the Brotherhood. 

“The group has committed many attacks in Giza governorate in which they retain a strong presence, particularly in Sixth of October city,” says Okasha.

Security expert Khaled Motawe went a step further claiming that “Turkey has a hand in this failed assassination attempt”.

Following the attack, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi telephoned Gomaa. During the call Al-Sisi condemned extremism and all attempts to undermine stability and intimidate moderate scholars who disseminate “the upright teachings of Islam”.

The main Sunni Islamic institution Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments both condemned the assassination attempt.

The traditional seat of Sunni Islamic learning Al-Azhar described the assassination attempt as a “villainous terrorist” attack that will not succeed in intimidating “devoted” Muslim scholars. Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in an interview with Egyptian state television that the attempt shows the cowardly nature of “groups that have lost their sanity”.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and several political parties and MPs also condemned the attack.

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