Cablegate: Egypt Names Accomplices in April 7 Bazaar Bombing

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002969


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/18/2015

B. CAIRO 2799

Classified by Charge Gordon Gray for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (SBU) In a public announcement on the afternoon of April
17, the Ministry of Interior named four accomplices of the
bomber who died as he carried out the April 7 terrorist
attack in a Cairo tourist bazaar that killed one AmCit, two
French nationals and wounded 17, including three AmCits,
other foreigners, and Egyptians. Of the four accomplices
named, three are in custody and one is at large. A fifth man
arrested is apparently not part of the conspiracy.
Meanwhile, writing in Egypt's leading daily newspaper, Sheikh
Aly Gom'a, the Mufti of the Republic, described the bomber as
a "cowardly terrorist...his misguided beliefs are against
Islam." Imprisoned members of the terrorist Islamic Group,
which was responsible for most of the terror attacks that
struck Egypt in the 1990s, said the April 7 bombing was
"murder not jihad" and "served the goals of the enemies of
the nation." Many columnists writing about the attack have
speculated that poverty, hopelessness, and the lack of
legitimate political outlets contributed to the bomber's
decision, and others continue to peddle conspiracy theories,
while one prominent commentator warned against making excuses
for terrorists. End summary.

Four Accomplices

2. (C) On the afternoon of April 17, Egypt State TV broadcast
an announcement from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) which
named four accomplices of Hassan Ahmed Rif'at Bashandi, who
died April 7 as he detonated a bomb in the Khan al-Khalili
tourist bazaar, killing also one AmCit and two French
nationals, and wounding 17 Egyptians and foreigners.

The statement identified the following:

A. Akram Mohammed Fawzy (in custody) (DOB 11/5/1970) (DOBs
were subsequently provided to LEGATT by Egyptian State
Security) is described as the planner and financier of the
attack. MOI alleges that Fawzy provided the principal
logistical, technical, and ideological support for the
attack. Fawzy allegedly set up a chemical fertilizer project
in Meghaga, in Minya province about 100 miles south of Cairo,
as a cover for the operation. Fawzi was identified as a
resident of Moqattam, a suburb just east of Islamic Cairo.

B. Ashraf Sa'id Youssef (at large) (DOB 11/4/1978) is
described as the individual who recruited the bomber,
Bashandi, and trained him to conduct the operation. MOI
asserted that Youssef knew Bashandi would die upon detonation
of the bomb but told the bomber he would have five minutes to
escape after triggering the device. Youssef was identified
as a resident of Ezzbet Rushdi in Shubra al-Kheima, in
Qalyubia province on the northern fringes of Cairo.

C. Tarek Ahmed El Sayed Ali (in custody) (DOB 8/25/1971) is
described as a graduate of the faculty of sciences and
identified as the one who built the bomb, in a workshop in
Al-Marg, a northern Cairo suburb. Ali reportedly put the
bomb in a green container and passed it to Youssef, who
passed it to Bashandi. (Comment: Mention of a green
container tracks with the statement of an AmCit victim, who
described an approach by a man carrying a green bucket. End

D. Reda Saeed Ahmed Ibrahim (in custody) (DOB 10/18/1976) is
a neighbor of Bashandi who allegedly introduced him to the
group. MOI alleged that planners originally intended to use
Ibrahim to deliver the bomb but that his ill health made them
reconsider. (Note: We will submit these names separately for
Visas Vipers consideration. End note.)

3. (SBU) The April 18 edition of Al-Ahram, Egypt's leading
daily, carried interviews with family members of two of the
detainees. Samar, Akram Fawzy's wife insisted that "although
he prayed, fasted, and asked me to wear the niqab (face
veil)" her husband did not display extremist tendencies. She
said she had met her husband when he worked at her uncle's
marble processing factory. Akram "even" allowed Samar to
watch satellite TV and listen to the radio, she stated in the
interview. Samar acknowledged that her husband had recently
befriended defendant Tarek Ali. The mother and sister of
Reda Ibrahim asserted to Al-Ahram that he was too ill to be
involved in such a plot and that he was a good student at
Cairo University's Faculty of Agriculture. They acknowledged
that he had been a school friend of the bomber Bashandi.

4. (SBU) A fifth individual initially named as a suspect,
Mohamed Fikry Abdel Azim El-Guindy, is a licensed gun
merchant in Meghaga, Minya, who allegedly sold a gun to
defendent Tarek Ali. He was arrested, but is apparently no
longer considered part of the conspiracy.

Mufti Condemns Bombing

5. (SBU) Egypt's leading daily Al-Ahram published on April 16
a piece entitled "They are murdering beauty" penned by Sheikh
Ali Gom'a, who, as Mufti of the Republic, is Egypt's
second-ranking Islamic cleric, after the Grand Imam of
Al-Azhar. Gom'a lashed out at the April 7 bombing and its
perpetrators, noting the irony that it would be conducted in
a historic district famous for showcasing Islam's heritage of
beautiful and harmonious architecture. Gom'a said the
"cowardly terrorist" who "murdered Egyptians and foreigners
alike...must have never seen beauty in his heart, his eyes,
or his belief." He wrote that the attack demonstrated "the
ugliness of his misguided beliefs, which are against Islam,"
added that the attack was a negative manifestation "of the
slumber that Islamic civilization is currently enduring," and
opined that security forces should "strike hard with a
punishment that befits the crime." He closed his piece with
several Qur'anic citations supporting his argument that
Islam's message is one of love and beauty rather than hatred
and destruction.

Islamic Group Statement (from jail)

6. (SBU) Also on April 16, Al-Ahram carried an interview with
imprisoned members of the leadership of the Islamic Group,
the terrorist organization that conducted many of the terror
operations that struck Egypt in the 1990s. The leaders
condemned the operation, and asserted that "the era of such
operations is long gone" adding that they thought "everyone
now understood their negative consequences." Such operations
"only serve the goals of the enemies of the nation," they
contended. (Comment: Such rhetoric is usually a reference
to Israel. In this context, it does not appear to be an
accusation of Israeli responsibility, although such
accusations have appeared elsewhere in the Egyptian media
(ref B). End comment.) In the lengthy interview, the
leaders reiterate several times the "misguided beliefs" of
those who carried out the attack, added that foreign tourists
and business people who visit
Egypt enjoy protection under Islamic law, and described the
attack as "murder, not jihad."

The Public Debate: Who is to Blame?

7. (C) Much commentary about the attack in the Egyptian media
has focused on the psychology of the bomber Bashandi, with
speculation that poverty, and the hopelessness Egyptian youth
face due to widespread unemployment, made him susceptible to
extremist ideology. In one of the more outrageous pieces,
the populist weekly tabloid Sawt al-Umma published on April
17 a "thoughtful" article that compared the AmCit victim to
the Egyptian bomber, noting that both were religious young
men, both were of modest backgrounds, "both suffered from
depression" and, ultimately, both were "victims of Bush's
religious wars." True to form, the reckless tabloid al-Osboa
published an article citing "reports" of Israeli and U.S.
involvement in the attack. Prominent columnist Salama Ahmed
Salama published a piece in Ahram in which he linked
extremism to a lack of political freedom and legitimate
outlets for the frustrations of youth. Arguing in an
opposite direction, leading commentator Abdel Moneim Said
warned against seeking excuses or justifications for
terrorists, whose inexcusable crimes cost all of Egypt

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