Bombers kill 88 at Egyptian Ghazala Gardens hotel resort (July 23, 2005)

On this day in 2005, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group known as the Abdallah Azzam Brigades set off bombs in the Egyptian Red Sea resort killing 88.

People often underestimate the importance of ideologues: they really should not.

SHARM AL SHAIKH, EGYPT — If you have read anything I have written over the past five + years this blog series has been going on for you know that there are a few terms/phrases I really don’t like. These include:

  • war on terrorism
  • lone wolf
  • deradicalisation, and
  • self-radicalisation

This last one in particular really gets my goat. It is used constantly especially by government officials who really do not know what they are talking about.

The phrase suggests that anyone, and I mean anyone, can ramp up to carry out a terrorist attack all on their lonesome. They can 1) get angry at some perceived injustice, 2) internalise an ideology that provides the rationale for an attack, and 3) execute it by themselves. In actual fact, only parts 1) and 3) are partially true.

The reality is that no one, with very, very few exceptions, can figure out an ideology to the extent where they understand it enough to use it to justify mass casualty attacks. Most people are just not that smart. And most ideologies are complex. The latter take ideologues – or radicalisers – to explain it to the former.

When it comes to Islamist terrorism there have been a great number of such men (they are all men to the best of my knowledge). Sayyid Qutb. Anwar al Aulaqi. Maulana Mawdudi. And Abdallah Azzam.

I would rank Azzam and Qutb as the foremost jihadi thinkers of the 20th century. Both men have a large corpus of literature to speak of and have spawned ideas that are still effective today.

And Azzam has a terrorist group named after him.

On this day in 2005 at least 88 people were killed and 200 injured when car bombs ripped through shopping and hotel areas in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The dead included included British, Russian, Dutch, Kuwaiti, Saudi and Qatari nationals.

Several hours after the attack, a group citing ties to Al Qaeda (AQ) claimed responsibility for the explosion on an Islamist website. The group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for October 2004 bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34. The group also claimed responisbility for a Cairo bombing in late April 2005.

This terrorism has nothing to do with any religion, because all religions do not allow aggression and do not allow killing civilians in innocence. Those don’t belong to Muslims. They are a gang of criminals.

You know you have reserved your place in history when a terrorist group names itself after you.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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