ISIS Church Bombings Fit Pattern of Targeting Christian, Jewish Sites

(New York, NY) – The April 9 ISIS bombings at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt that killed 49 people fit a grisly pattern of extremists targeting Christian and Jewish sites to maximize fear and increase sectarian tensions, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said in releasing its newest analysis report, Terror Targets in the West: Where and Why.

At least 27 people died on Palm Sunday when an ISIS attacker detonated his suicide vest inside a church in the northern city of Tanta, while in Alexandria, 22 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a Coptic Christian church.

In 2009, al-Qaeda’s then-second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to “strike the interests of the enemies of Islam—namely, the Christians and the Jews—wherever and by whatever means you can.” ISIS attacks on Jewish targets include the May 2014 shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels that killed four people and the January 2015 hostage taking at a Paris kosher supermarket that resulted in the deaths of four patrons, all Jews.

CEP’s report includes detailed case studies of past attacks by al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as each group’s justification for choosing its targets, which in addition to Christian and Jewish institutions, have included transportation systems and public spaces, cartoonists that have drawn the Islamic prophet Muhammad, law enforcement personnel, and military installations and personnel.

To explore CEP’s report, Terror Targets in the West: Where and Why, please click here.

To explore CEP’s report, Egypt: Extremism and Counter-Extremism, please click here.



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On October 5, 2019, suspected Kata’ib Hezbollah gunmen attacked the offices of television stations Al-Arabiya and Abu Nawas in Baghdad. Gunmen also attacked the offices of Iraq’s Dajla and NRT news channels. The gunmen physically assaulted employees and smashed equipment, but no casualties were reported. 

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