Patterns of Global Terrorism 1996 - Egypt

Islamic extremist violence fell in 1996. The number of fatalities – including noncombatants (105), police (59), and extremists (38) killed – fell sharply from 375 in 1995 to 202. Most incidents continued to occur in the provinces of upper Egypt. In spite of improved security, however, al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group or IG) succeeded in conducting a shooting attack against foreign tourists at a Cairo hotel in April. Although this hotel attack generated the largest casualty count from a single incident in Egypt's modern history, the total number of deaths from extremist violence dropped sharply in 1996 after increasing steadily during the previous four years.

The IG continued its pattern of hit-and-run attacks in upper Egypt against police and suspected police informers and its robberies of jewelry stores to finance its operations. Minya Governorate ranked highest in terrorist incidents – which included the IG's killing of a high-ranking police official in April – but attacks also occurred in Asyut Governorate. The IG's shooting attack in April outside the Europa Hotel in Cairo that killed 18 Greek tourists waiting to board a bus disrupted the previous year's lull in incidents in Cairo and northern urban areas. The IG said it had intended to kill Israeli tourists to avenge Israeli strikes earlier that month against Hizballah forces in southern Lebanon. The smaller group al-Jihad also condemned Israeli action and threatened to hit "American and Israeli targets everywhere." Al-Jihad did not claim responsibility for any attacks in Egypt during 1996.

Although the IG carried out no attacks outside Egypt in 1996, a senior IG leader who said he was speaking from Afghanistan publicly threatened in April to kidnap US citizens in retaliation for the sentencing to life in prison by the United States of Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, the IG's spiritual leader, in January. The shaykh was convicted in October 1995 for planning to carry out several terrorist conspiracies in the United States.

The Egyptian Government hosted the Summit of Peacemakers in March at Sharm ash Shaykh to discuss terrorism and the peace process. President Clinton joined President Mubarak, then Prime Minister Peres, King Hussein, Chairman Arafat, and other heads of state and government at the meeting.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.