Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat died Monday from injuries sustained in a car bombing that targeted his convoy while driving to work in Cairo.
Barakat was at the center of Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on perceived terrorist threats, especially those associated with supporters of deposed Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt’s robust anti-terrorism policies — including thousands of arrests, hundreds of death sentences and countless instances of purportedly infringed civil liberties — have flourished since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi came to prominence in 2013.
At least seven others, including bystanders, were also hurt in Monday’s blast.
According to The New York Times, security officials say the exploding car was parked in a nearby lot, and detonated by remote control.Since Morsi was ousted and Sissi put on the path to power in 2013, a constellation of groups has emerged protesting the regime, including some that espouse violence. One prominent element of the insurgency is Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a jihadi group in the Sinai Peninsula which has since declared allegiance to Islamic State.
The ISIS affiliate, which now calls itself the group’s “Sinai Province,” called for renewed attacks on elements of the Egyptian justice system in a video released just hours before the Monday explosion. In the video, entitled “The Liquidation of Judges,” a narrator contrasts the legitimate justice of ISIS’ purported state with the false justice of the secular Egyptian government.
But rather than Islamic State, an obscure group known as “Giza Popular Resistance” claimed initial credit for the attack on its Facebook page. Egypt’s Popular Resistance Movement is frequently described as “religious nationalist” rather than jihadi in orientation. The group taking credit for the attack is a local branch in the city of Giza, outside Cairo.
The Popular Resistance does not appear directly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, though it appears sympathetic to the group’s motives to seek retribution for Morsi’s ouster.
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