From the archive of Abdelrahim Ali

Alexandria bombing and the road to January 25, four years enough for truth reveal?

Abdelrehim Aly

The time was one in the morning on January 1, 2011, when international agencies reported the news of an explosion in front of the Church of the Saints in Alexandria. At that time, I wrote that we are in front of a number of basic facts that link the inside and the outside, and are inseparable from it.

The 2011 Alexandria bombing was an attack on Coptic Christians in Alexandria, Egypt, on Saturday, 1 January 2011. 23 people died and another 97 were injured as a result of the attack, which occurred as Christian worshipers were leaving a New Year service.

An explosive device detonated in front of the Coptic Orthodox church of Saint Mark and Pope Peter in the Sidi Bishr neighbourhood in Alexandria. Initial reports stated that it was a car explosion, however an Interior Ministry statement later declared that it was a suicide attack, through the Egyptian official news agency.

At the time of the blast, several thousand Coptic Christians were attending midnight prayer service at the church at the occasion of the new year. The explosion resulted in scattered body parts, destroyed cars and smashed windows.

A week before the incident, specifically on December 24, 2010, the British newspaper “The Times” published an investigation about Iran’s release of a number of senior Al-Qaeda figures detained by it in a mysterious deal.

The newspaper - which enjoys high credibility and very accurate sources - said that it was part of a deal to release Heshmatollah Attarzadeh Niyaki, the commercial attaché at Iran's consulate in Peshawar.

The important part that the newspaper mentioned is that intelligence officials in Middle Eastern countries and in Pakistan, who requested that their identities to be withheld, revealed that the information in their possession indicated that Iran had offered “direct aid” from its Revolutionary Guards to al-Qaeda in recent months.

The newspaper added that among those released were Saif al-Adl, the organization's intelligence official, and Abu al-Khair al-Masry, a former member of the Egyptian "Jihad" group.

The list also included, according to the newspaper, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, an explosives expert and engineer for the Kenya and Tanzania bombings, in addition to the Kuwaiti Suleiman Abu Ghaith, the former official spokesman for al-Qaeda, and three of bin Laden's sons.

The newspaper concluded that all of the released al-Qaeda members in recent months had been captured by Iran after fleeing to it after the advance of US forces in southern Afghanistan in October 2001.

Moreover, Al-Nour Radio, affiliated with the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah, surprised us on the 27th of October, with a unique piece of news that it shared with the website of the Syrian newspaper Masar Al-Akhbar.

Amos Yadlin, the former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence, announced during a ceremony that the Israeli military intelligence had succeeded in escalating sectarian and social tension in Egypt to generate a conflicting environment that is always tense and divided, in order to deepen the state of weariness inside Egypt.

It is strange that the news was not mentioned by any Israeli newspaper, despite its importance, in addition to the fact that this type of mission, according to experts, does not fall within the responsibilities of the Israeli Military Intelligence Service.

Also, in November, a group calling itself Al-Qaeda in Iraq announced that all Christians in the Middle East would be "legitimate targets."

The day following the statement, a website called the Mujahideen Network published a statement, announcing the request of a number of volunteers who would provide logistical support for operations against the Copts. The statement specified the type of support required through monitoring churches and sending daily reports about them and the movement of priests.

Two weeks later, and specifically on December 15, 2010, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in his speech as part of the party’s celebrations on the last night of Ashura, “that Israel is seeking a Christian-Islamic sedition in Egypt, and strife between Sunnis and Shiites, and between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq, and to strike Christians.”

Two weeks have passed since the speech of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, in which he promoted upcoming Israeli operations against Egyptian Christians, except that the base targeted the Church of the Saints in Alexandria, an incident that the party immediately condemned, as if the statement had been prepared in advance.

But why does the Hamas emirate contribute to helping Iran to interfere in Egyptian affairs to such an extent? I think that answering this question requires presenting a number of facts that were later proven through the case of ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s espionage.

In preparation for what happened on January 25, 2011, a meeting was held in Damascus during November 2010, in which Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor to Imam Khamenei, Ali Fadwa, a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and Khaled Meshaal, head of the political bureau of Hamas, participated, under the auspices of the Brotherhood in Egypt. In coordination with the international organization of the group.

During the meeting the following was agreed to;

- Cadres of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will train the elements that will be dispatched from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, in the event that people take to the streets and chaos ensues.

- Raising the degree of preparedness in Hamas cells in Gaza during the coming period, according to an agreement with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

- Planning for the entry of these elements into Egypt is carried out by the Palestinian Akram Al-Ajouri, a member of the Hamas movement, due to his distinguished relationship with the Sinai Bedouins and their arms smugglers.

- Palestinian Khaled Meshaal hands over 11 Egyptian passports to the Iranian, Ali Fadawi, to be handed over to the Lebanese Hezbollah elements for use during the entry of the party’s elements into Egypt.

The aim of that plan was to target 160 police stations simultaneously, which happened on January 28.

Moreover, the storming of prison buildings, starting from January 28, with the aim of smuggling Hamas, Hezbollah and Bedouin elements from Sinai, of those convicted of terrorist and drug trafficking cases, in addition to smuggling criminal prisoners out of prison with the aim of increasing the state of chaos in the country.

Also, they planned on shooting some protesters in Tahrir Square and some squares in the governorates and claim that the police forces opened fire at peaceful demonstrators.

The aim, then, was to trap the Egyptian police, and before that, to harm their reputation and strike national unity, by blowing up a church using the Iranian- and Hamas-backed Islamic Army, and trying to pin the accusation on the Egyptian police, through crude propaganda revolving around the commission of Habib Al-Adly, then Minister of Interior. And then the Christians come out of the equation of permanent bias towards the Mubarak regime, by charging them with anger and pushing them to take revenge by participating in the revolution against the regime, and the bombing of the churches was the first step on the road to January 25.