Monday, November 27, 2017

There is no god but God and Muhammad is his Prophet

"We knew that the mosque was under attack."
"Everyone lay down on the floor and kept their heads down. If you raised your head you get shot."
"The shooting was random and hysterical at the beginning and then became more deliberate." "Whoever they weren't sure was dead or still breathing was shot dead."
Mansour, 38, salt factory worker, Al Rawda mosque wounded

"There wee people on top of me bleeding and I couldn't feel anything."
"They were shooting anyone who seemed to be breathing."
Mohammed Raziq, Imam, Al Rawda mosque, Bir al-Abd, North Sinai, Egypt
People gather at the site of the mosque attack on Friday.
People gather at the site of the mosque attack on Friday.     CNN
Exquisitely well planned, organized and munificently lethal. Five all-terrain vehicles, 25 or 30 gunmen in camouflage, and an Islamic State flag declaring the shahada. Surrounding the Sufi mosque, tossing explosives, spraying bullets as Imam Raziq began Friday prayers. People fell on the floor, dead or wounded, the live attempting to minimize their presence while the killers roamed about looking for signs of life, the masked men shooting those still alive in the back of the head.

Although they had set fire to parked cars of those within the mosque to deter flight of those attempting to find passage to freedom and life, when the ambulances began to arrive sharpshooters targeted them as well, and the ambulances sped off. The dead numbered 305, the wounded 128 at the mosque where the faithful went to pray to their merciful god of peace. Pledging "extreme force" to "avenge our martyrs", President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi dispatched warplanes to destroy the attack vehicles and occupants.

Then Egypt settled into three days of mourning while the media reassured the public that everything was under control. Which is to say the military with its tanks, conflict vehicles, fighter jets, warships and helicopter gunships remained on alert and prepared to defend Egypt and its inhabitants from the malevolence of enemies. A Muslim country on guard from threats and murderous assaults by Deobandi Muslims on a mission of jihad in obeisance to a god that demands it. "Our focus lies in the war against polytheism and apostasy, and among those Sufism, sorcery and divination,"

Relatives of the victims of the mosque attack sit outside a hospital Saturday in the eastern port city of Ismailia.
Relatives of the victims of the mosque attack sit outside a hospital Saturday in the eastern port city of Ismailia.  CNN

Egypt's military is prepared to fight back at the Northern Sinai, ISIL-affiliated Bedouin fighting group that has for years seen military and police posts in the Sinai as targets for violent attacks. The military is trained and addresses conflict as an organized conventional fighting force should. The Northern Sinai attackers fight as guerrillas conventionally do. The military has destroyed the tunnels linking the Sinai with Gaza, it has moved residents from their border homes, and quarantined Hamas which smuggles weapons into the Sinai.

But this is not a conflict with rules. And Northern Sinai jihadis exult in their freedom to carry out assassinations and launching deadly attacks on posts and convoys. They are not impressed with President el-Sisi's promise that "The armed forces and police will forcefully take revenge for our martyred sons and restore security and stability in the short period ahead." There has been ample time to do all of that and it has not happened.

The military leadership appears wanting. An operation to attack the terrorists in t he Western Desert failed when counterterrorism police were so poorly coordinated with security and intelligence agencies that they themselves became 'martyrs' in  unintended consequences that resulted in the chief of staff of the armed forces and the premier police generals were demoted. A silent, grim admission of defeat. Neighbouring Libya, a  hotbed of Islamist militias trading in weapons and exchanging fighters has opened a new front.


Those among the Egyptian military newly trained in counterterrorism along with police deployed for the same purpose have not moved much beyond their early training as police conscripts capable of operating checkpoints. Attack helicopters are useless in mountainous territory representing a haven for the terrorists, a landscape immune to tanks and heavy vehicles negotiating mountain slopes where the militants' light arms, machine guns, roadside bombs and suicide bombers are far more lethally efficient.

Egypt's quandary.

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