Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998 - Egypt

The number of deaths in 1998 from terrorist-related incidents fell to 47, fewer than one-third of the tally for 1997 and the lowest since 1992. Egyptian security forces increased security and counterterrorist operations against Egyptian extremists, particularly al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, following its attack in November 1997 at Luxor that killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians. Trials of Egyptian extremists responsible for various terrorist acts were held throughout the year, resulting in several convictions. The improving security situation led tourism to increase in 1998. Egypt also hosted in October an Interpol conference that promoted international cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Egypt also worked closely with other Arab countries in counterterrorism efforts, pursuant to an agreement reached among Arab interior ministers earlier in the year.

Despite the intensified security and counterterrorist actions following the Luxor incident, Egyptian extremists – particularly al-Jihad – continued to levy threats against Egypt and the United States for the arrests and extradition in 1998 of their cadre from Albania, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Both al-Jihad and al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya signed terrorist sponsor Usama Bin Ladin's fatwa in February that called for attacks against US civilians, although al-Gama'at publicly denied that it is a member of Bin Ladin's World Islamic Front for the Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders. Al-Gama'at leaders imprisoned in Egypt followed the lead of imprisoned Shaykh Umar Abd al-Rahman, issuing a public statement in early November that called for the cessation of operations in Egypt and urged al-Gama'at to create a "peaceful front." Gama'at leaders abroad endorsed the idea but emphasized they would continue to target US interests and support the jihad.


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