April 9, 2017 | ISIS church bombings in Egypt

The Sinai branch of ISIS carried out two suicide attacks on Christian worshipers on Palm Sunday killing 37 people and wounding 136

ISIS regularly slaughtered followers of other religions in a misguided conviction that only its own faith is true.

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT — Lots of people believe in God (or god(s)). Our history as a species demonstrates that society after society has worshiped what it saw as a supreme being, one that created everything, watched over those who were faithful and, at times, killed those who were not. Many followers have also meted out ‘divine’ justice. The history of religion is sadly a violent one.

This of course is somewhat counter-intuitive as many creeds ostensibly try to make us ‘better’. Love your neighbour. Do unto others as you want them to do unto you. Don’t be a wanker (I made that last one up).

And yet despite all this good advice many so-called ‘religious’ people have framed the use of violence as a religious function. I have the right to kill you BECAUSE you refuse to share my sense of faith. This all got much more serious when states began to adopt official religions and could hence leverage many more resources against the perceived enemies, or ‘evil ones’.

ISIS and its ‘state’

Then we have the pseudo states, and I can think of no better example than Islamic State (ISIS). The fact that they incorporated the word ‘state’ into their name and declared a ‘Caliphate’ in parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014 showed just how seriously they took themselves and how they demanded that others take them as well.

ISIS is no longer a state, although it remains a very dangerous entity. It has maintained a presence in Iraq and Syria and is engaged in battles with the security forces of that state on a daily basis.

It also spawned a whole series of imitators that called themselves Islamic State in _____: there are upwards of 20 or so. Some are ineffective while others (Khurasan in Afghanistan, Greater Sahara and West Africa to name three) are lethal. As is the one featured in today’s attack.

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On this day in 2017 the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula (Egypt) launched two actions against Christian worshipers in Alexandria (St. Mark’s) and Tanta (a Coptic Christian church) on Palm Sunday. Both attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. In all, 47 people were killed and 136 injured. It was the single largest attack on Christians in Egyptian modern history.

It remains unclear what, if any, special security measures were in fact undertaken given the police knew the church in Tanta was being targeted and today, Palm Sunday, comes with a surge in attendance.

A witness of the attack

Christians in Egypt have been disproportionately attacked by ISIS in recent years. These terrorists seem to think that their ‘God’ gives them sanction to kill those who follow a different ‘God’, despite the fact that both Muslims and Christians share the same prophetic tradition (Muslims view Christians – and Jews – as ahl al-kitab, ‘people of the book’).

Terrorist groups like ISIS often portray themselves as angry men serving an angry god. Oh I’d bet that God is angry all right but not at the victims.

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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