Today in Terrorism

January 8, 2016 | Terrorist attack by ISIS in Egypt

Terrorists attack tourist resorts for obvious reasons: it is a way to target Westerners and undermine a nation’s economy.

Terrorists attack tourist resorts for obvious reasons: it is a way to target Westerners and undermine a nation’s economy.

Have you ever been to Egypt? I have, but never got out of the airport on a flight from Kuwait to Jordan way back in 2001 (before 9/11). I have always wanted to go to see the pyramids and other sites associated with ancient Egyptian society. As a kid I marveled at this civilisation.

I am not alone in wanting to visit. Tourists numbered 8.3 million in 2017 and the contribution by this industry to the national economy was close to 12 percent in 2018. It is clearly an important part of the country’s ability to provide jobs for its citizens.

Egyptian soldiers firing on Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981.
Terrorists posing as soldiers attack the viewing stand where Sadat was present (Photo: AFP)
Egypt is also a prime terrorist target.

Well before anyone had heard of Al Qaeda, let alone Islamic State (ISIS) there were catastrophic terrorist acts in Cairo and elsewhere. In addition, Egypt was the home of the true ‘father’ of modern Islamist terrorism, Sayyid Qutb, as well as another important ideologue, Muhammad Abd Al Salam Faraj, who was involved in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

In recent years one of the favoured targets has been Egyptian tourist sites in the Sinai Peninsula and along the Red Sea. On January 8, 2016 two terrorists carrying an ISIS flag attacked the Bella Vista hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, wounding two Austrian and one Swedish guests before they were shot by police (one terrorist died). There were allegations that they plan was to take hostages.

Luxor Massacre, Egypt, Deir el-Bahri, terrorist attack (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. El-Dakhakhny)
Sight of the Luxor attack in 1997 that killed 62 tourists (Photo: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. El-Dakhakhny)

ISIS in the Sinai, as it bills itself, was behind the 2015 downing of a Russian airline that killed 224 passengers and crew. That particular terrorist entity has been very, very busy in recent years and there is little sign that the Egyptian security forces will achieve ‘victory’ any time soon.

I do hope that my wife and I can tour Egypt at some time. As I am not one to NOT travel for fear of terrorism I predict it will happen.

I am just not sure when.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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