The Bleeding Temple Of Hatshepsut (The 1997 Luxor Massacre)
Fight them on until there is no more Tumult, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. (Omar Abdel Rahman, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya)
The Tora prison in Egypt witnessed many painful torments much liken to a Hellraiser novel by Clive Barker. It created a dreaded sense of helplessness, unrelenting sense of dread and mental degradation. The excessive uses of mid-evil torture from the Mabahith Amn El Dawla (State Security Investigations Service) (SSI), Egypt’s oldest and most brutal intelligence service, had been well known in the region. Under former President, Gamel Nasser, the SSI were trained by another current intelligence entity, known to use excessive acts in extrapolating information from unwilling victims, the Soviet Union’s (KGB). Nasser had dealt prominently with the “fundamentalists” for some time in the Muslim Brotherhood under Hassan al-Banna. Even making the Brotherhood retreat underground, for years. Recruits of the SSI, went thru rigorous training, even made to learn the arts of espionage and deception.
This made the SSI exceptionally successful in penetrating Egypt’s most strict religious sects. So successful was the agency in infiltration of radical organizations, that they would train other countries in the ruthless dark arts in Algeria and Syria. The Syrian government under Hafez al-Assad had success in derailing the “radicals” for years which transferred over to his son, Bashar. The ideology of Arab Nationalism (Nasserism) was fundamental to the countries progression and also it’s foreign policy. Egypt began taking a road they had dreamed, port trading with the Soviets, France, Spain and even the United States. Meanwhile one of Egypt’s most ardent religious scholar and formidable adversary to the ideology of Pan-Arabism, Sayyid Qutb, began openly criticizing the Egyptian government.
Qutb’s return from the United States reversed his previous thoughts, he became alarmed at the West’s unnecessary wasteful and illicit ideas of life. With his view regarding the Arab world, trying to advance to this lifestyle under Nasser, Qutb became his primary adversary. Nasser had falsely promised Qutb and the Brotherhood, after his coup de tat using the Free Officers Movement to subjugate the British imperialistic powers. Qutb had not envisioned Egypt under Nasser’s plans, but his own. A theocratic state governed by Islamic law. However this notion was rejected, Nasser had used the Brotherhood to overpower King Farouk’s government. It was a successes. By 1954 however, Nasser declared the Brotherhood, outlawed. Qutb was arrested and summarily executed on August 29,1966. However with his death, came a sense of unity within the ultra-orthodox in the Arab world. Qutb;s execution was universally seen as an act of “martyrdom”. He dared face off against Nasser, and even thou he was killed for it, his power would be felt in his death.
Nasserism wouldn’t face eventual extinction until it was dealt a potentially fatal blow, when the palpable nation of Israel saw to the military defeat of not only Egypt, but also Jordan and Syria. Key Arab states which were relatively free from Islamic fundamentalism. This defeat witnessed a sense of dread within the Islamic community as a whole. The collective disdain for Arab socialist governments and the retribution came from the underground monoliths which grew in silence. By the early 1970’s, the Brotherhood had gained traction and grew to many Arab cities, in countries that were free from its questionable theology, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Some smaller more fervent sects began to grow as well. By the near end of the period, the tilt was beginning and in 1979, it witnessed a birth which extended to the countries which helped shaped it’s foundations. Saudi Arabia saw radicals overtake the Grand Kabba in Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. It witnessed the Iranian Revolution, where Ruhollah Khomeini helped overthrow the U.S backed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, it also witnessed the capitulation of the Islamic ummah in Afghanistan with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (JI) (Islamic Group) was born out from it’s Egyptian universities, and were loosely affiliated with other terrorist networks, and remained largely underground, unnoticeable toward Egyptian society. Their core members were from Egyptian universities and recruited heavily there. The group began taking on some notice and gained ground with the Egyptian lower class, who wished for an Islamic rule of law. Under Sadat, these groups began to become more prominent, as unlike his predecessor Nasser, Sadat was far more tolerant toward the religious sector. Soon many of the universities brightest students would become the Jama’a al-Islamiyya’s leading spokespeople, one in which taught at Cairo University, Omar Abdel Rahman (Blind Sheikh).
These events would slowly begin to come full circle, but not until the final “coup de grace. Egypt had witnessed varying sects of Islamism, many were of the proponents of Qutb and the Brotherhood whom were unorganized and without structure. Save the Brotherhood, only al-Jihad had been somewhat collected. Led by Mohammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, whom led the Cairo branch. This cell was considered the more militant than its sister in the south of the country, which were led by the intellectuals. Faraj had excelled in Cairo University, studying electrical engineering and once worked as an administrator in the school. However, in the dark crevasses of the embittered city of Cairo, Faraj was known as a fervent believer in Qutb’s ideology. Egypt’s President, Anwar Sadat, was not seen nearly as strict with the fundamentalists, and promised actual reform. He allowed many of them to be released from prisons thru-ought the country. A mistake which would later have fatal consequences. Many of the Muslim Brotherhood members had now saw fit to exact revenge on the system which gave them nothing but motivation in regards to their torturous experiences.
Sadat also saw Egypt lacking in true political reform as well. It was a simple decision to mend problems between Israel and the Egyptian government which saw Sadat’s final days. On March 26, 1979, just 7 months following the Camp David Accords, a peace treaty was finally signed by Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Washington, D.C which was moderated by U.S President Jimmy Carter. The Egyptian fundamentalists,who never forgotten the defeat at the hands of Israel in 1968, witnessed another transgression. Faraj immediately took notice. Other notable Egyptian members, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Karam Zuhdi (al-Jihad leader in Southern Egypt) and Omar Abdel Rahman (Jamat al-Islamiiyah) had begun taking the steps to eliminate the threat from the country, in Anwar Sadat. Faraj began holding evening meetings with members of the Egyptian military who were affiliated with al-Jihad, renamed to Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). The idea had been proposed to him by Khalid Islambouli, a lieutenant in the Egyptian Army, whom Faraj had invited to join al-Jihad when he was posted to Cairo six months before. Aboud El Zomor, an intelligence officer and member of the EIJ, had come on board as well.
On October 6th, 1981….Anwar Sadat was assassinated as military trucks pulled up next to the podium facade which saw Sadat sitting just behind front row. The Egyptian government now saw former vice president, Hosni Mubarak, whom was injured as he was sitting next to Sadat. Under Mubarak, he immediately ordered an investigation into the incident. Hundreds of religious Egyptians were arrested, even if they were simply suspected as having any ties to any religious organization. Even if they weren’t fundamentalist. Faraj was taken into custody and even gave his arresting officers the truth of the matter, bluntly. Faraj stated:
“The basis of the existence of imperialism in the lands of Islam is these self-same rulers. To begin with the struggle against imperialism is a work which is neither glorious nor useful, and it is only a waste of time. It is our duty to concentrate on our Islamic cause, and that is the establishment first of all of God’s law in our own country and causing the world of God to prevail. There is no doubt that the first battlefield of the jihad is the extirpation of these infidel leaderships and their replacement by a perfect Islamic order, and from this will come the release of our energies.”
Faraj, as well as Islambouli, Zomar, Zuhdi, Rahman, and al-Zawahiri were all detained and arrested for their alleged role in Sadat’s death. al-Zawahiri experienced horrific acts of torture, for the SSI wanted a final piece of the puzzle, Essam al-Qamari, a decorated tank commander and Major in the Egyptian army who was suspected of smuggling military weapons to members of the EIJ. al-Zawahiri’s painful indulgences of remaining silent, were met with cigarettes to the face, sitting naked in a wooden chair with nails and burns over his back by hot irons. It led him to finally set up his dear friend, al-Qamari. An act he admitted in his book, Knights Under the Prophets Banner, that he never forgave himself for. While in Tora prison, many of those imprisoned were released after 2–3 years. However Faraj and Islambouli were executed for their involvement in Sadat’s assassination. While in prison members of the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya, led by Karam Zuhdi, had begun noticing Omar Abdel Rahman had appealed for emir. It led to division within the group. Rahman was seen as a fiery leader, Zuhdi its more stalwart protagonist.
Zuhdi had reiterated that because Rahman was blind, he could not be trusted to lead the organization. With Abboud al-Zomar in prison, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad was now under Ayman al-Zawahiri’s leadership, which saw him expelled from the country, and saw himself situated in Afghanistan, a perfect situation for someone willing to extract revenge on the world in regards to his excessive torturous episodes in Cairo. Rahman was finally was released due to him being blind,he was saved from being physically harmed by his jailers, the country saw fit to release him. For which in 1990, he landed in the United States, given a dual entry Visa by a consular officer, who was a CIA case agent, with Rahman under a terrorist watch-list. It didn’t matter it seemed, as he was able to apply successfully for a US visa, 4 times. The Jamat al-Islammiyah however saw fit to become unlike the EIJ. Instead of returning underground and recouping, they immediately began revamping terrorist operations against the Mubarak government.
After the assassination of Sadat, and the mass arrests of Egypt’s leading religious figures, Hosni Mubarak feared the retaliation from an angry public. Thus Mubarak began his strict crackdown of known terrorist cells operating within the city of Cairo. However, Mubarak wanted to make amends with other Arab countries, thus he began rekindling political amends with King Fahd in Saudi Arabia. This would begin reasserting Egypt back into the Arab World League, which banned Egypt from its organization after Sadat’s deal with Israel. Iraq and Iran had begun the conflict, with the Ayatollah calling on overthrowing Western backed regimes for which he called the Saudi monarchy and Hussein governments proxies to the United States. Egypt began taking on notice under Mubarak as a strategic ally, while the Israel-Palestine issue took a backseat with multiple Arab conflicts happening.
Unlike Sadat, Mubarak saw the Palestine issue as tantamount to peace and in return he neglected to meet with Israeli officials. He was also a pragmatist, and by defying the Israeli government under Begin, Mubarak met with the Palestinian Liberation Organizations’ leader, Yasser Arafat in 1983. Mubarak knew the key to financial aid was to amend relations with foreign governments and repairing the Egyptian social sectors for improving employment. This in turn would quell the “fanatics” from Egypt’s terrorist cells who manipulate the poor to gain favor in over-throwing the government. Because of this Mubarak won the people’s favor, and in 1987 he won his second term.
The break in extremist violence however was short lived. By 1990, Muabark continued his aggressive conduct toward the terrorist cells who were vying for new recruits while hanging around Egypt's universities. The silence came to an end on November 12th 1990….as two Egyptian security officers were wounded in a fierce gun battle against two other extremists at the Assiut University, located in Assiut Govornorate, northeast of the country. The officers had been detailed to the courtyard to act as a determent, knowing well that clerics had been recruiting there for months. Assiut is also home to the most Coptic Churches in the country, A half-dozen churches were burned in the previous spring in the towns of Minya and Assiyut, in Upper Egypt as the purge of Coptic minorities began. Coptics are seen as “takfir” (fake Muslim) to the Salafi minded Islamist's. This conflict led to a domino effect between Egypt’s security forces and members of Jamaat al-Ismammiyah…..the clashes led to weeks long battles, to which police arrested 67 extremists after a clash in which youths threw Molotov cocktails and set a police vehicle ablaze.
One such battle with Egyptian officers led to the death of Ala Mohieddin, one of JI prominent leaders. No longer could Mubarak contain the potential growth of terrorist activity, and so he used Egypt’s armed forces to begin on the defense. Rifaat el-Mahgoub, an Egyptian parliament speaker was shot dead while in his car on the streets of Cairo….the suspects, members of the JI, who saw this as revenge for Mohieddin. But it only escalated the conflict even further. Mubarak struck back, and the crackdowns began, again. Terrorist operations would extend even further, far beyond Egyptian borders. In just two shorts years, it would visit the United States. In one of the countries most financially proficient and renown cities, New York City….the World Trade Center.
February 26th, 1993…The B-2 level located in the North Tower of the World Trade Center had a gaping hole, billowing smoke which flowed colored in pitch black out of the garage entrance. A Ruder truck outfitted with multiple canisters of urea nitrate was timed to explode. It’s objective? To known the North Tower into the South Tower hereby falling over into lower Manhattan killing approximately 250,000 people according to it;s mastermind. However, the North Tower stood fast. Ramzi Yousef would be captured, but not before his other associates had also been arrested….they were from the Al Farouq mosque in Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn as well as the Masjid al-Salaam in Jersey City, New Jersey. The latter being where Rahman had preached numerous times. The FBI had begun suspecting Rahman as being involved with the bombing, they couldn’t prove it however. By 1995 however, Yousef was captured in Pakistan with the help of the Pakistan ISI, and the U.S Diplomatic Security Service. Yousef was rather open about his involvement. But Rahman was never mentioned, not once under interrogations.
The FBI however deployed a disbarred informant who was supposed to be the primary builder of the WTC bomb initially, Emad Salem. Salem agreed with FBI authorities, but while he lived with the Blind Sheikh and traveled across most of Central states and the Northeast, he was given a task to record Rahman. In which he met with constantly but couldn’t get anything of value. The FBI had rented a warehouse in Jamaica, Queens, outfitted with listening devices and cameras to which the NY Joint Terrorism Task Force and the FBI were constantly motoring. Salem one day would meet with Siddig Siddig Ali, a Sudanese national. Salem pitched an idea, to bomb certain NYC landmarks….GW Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations, the FBI building. Ali agreed to relate this to others who would assist Salem in building multiple bombs. This operation would be named, The Landmarks Plot. After which the FBI and JTTF arrested while in construction of the bombs, all the players involved. Including the ever elusive, Rahman. This would also include an already imprisoned, El Sayyid Nosair, whom two NYC detectives from the JTTF, John Anticev and Louis Napoli, had found out he was also a member of the Jamaat al-Islamiiyah and responsible for the murder of radical Jewish fundamentalist, Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990, to which Nosair was found not guilty of, but found guilty of other charges.
Nosair would be the contact that Salem had to meet in 1992, and whom gave him the idea to bomb the WTC and later in 1993 to attack certain areas in the Landmarks Plot. Nosair would be found guilty and given a life sentence.
On October 1, 1995, a New York jury reached guilty verdicts on 48 of 50 charges. Sheikh Abdel Rahman was convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, conspiracy to murder President Mubarak, solicitation to attack a U.S. military installation, and conspiracy to conduct bombings. With Rahman imprisoned for having been involved with the Landmarks Plot. Egyptian members of the JI, began to ratchet up their activities. Rahman was well received and adorned by his followers even from other terrorist cells, this included Ayman al-Zawahiri and a Saudi living in Sudan for the time being, Osama Bin Laden. Egyptian authorities were now in a fierce battle with Egypt’s fundamentalists from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Jamaat al-Islammiyah. With the JI being the main antagonist. Mubarak had no compulsion to use extra-judicial violence, even if you were merely suspected of affiliating with people from the cells. Causing uproar from an already embittered society.
The evening hour of Saturday April 9th 1994, saw Major General Raouf Khayrat of Egypt's, Ant-Terrorism Unit, get inside his white Peugeot vehicle in front of his home in the suburb of Giza, only to be met by a array of assailants who threw a grenade inside his car, while showering it with gunfire. The car immediately became an inferno, the death of Khayrat was simply just the beginning of a major terrorist campaign against the Egyptian government and Hosni Mubarak. Khayrat was a major figure against the war of the JI, with the order to kill him came swiftly, the reaction was considered daring. Nowhere near as daring as what was in the upcoming plans however.
By 1995, Mustafa Ahmed Hassan Hamza, Jamaat al-Islammiyah’s military commander hatched a plot to assassinate Hosni Mubarak along with members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The plan was simple, follow Mubarak’s motorcade and get close enough to shoot him on sight. With such tightened security it surely would be a suicide mission. On June 26th 1995, Mubarak was travelling to the Ethiopian capitol, Addis Ababa to participate in the opening of an African summit meeting. According to Ethiopian authorities,
“Two teams of terrorists were assigned to the assassination attempt: two men directing the operation from an unidentified place outside Ethiopia and a nine-member hit team that entered the East African country.”
The attack was foiled by Mubarak’s security detail, to which two were shot in the process, as assailants tried to block the road, with five of the nine men were killed. Ethiopian security detail arrested 3 surviving members. According to the British media outlet, The Independent:
“The motorcade carrying Mr Mubarak, who had just flown into Addis Ababa for the opening of an Organisation of African Unity summit, had reached a point opposite the Palestine Embassy when two vehicles blocked its path and gunmen opened fire on the President’s car. As Ethiopian and Egyptian police officers fired back, Mr Mubarak’s driver was seen to wrench his car across the road and drive straight back to the airport, where the President immediately took his plane back to Cairo.”
Mubarak was stirred but not shaken by the ordeal. It showed his steely resolve toward the very entities he had showed no quarter towards. This event however would serve against the very terrorist cells, with an equally but more pronounced response, that would show no mercy, even for their family members. Mubarak swore revenge, tenfold. Over the course of the next 18 months led by the Egyptian security service, the SSI. They began cracking down on everyone affiliated or suspected to have affiliations with the Jamaat al-Islammiyah and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Even family members of those within these groups were detained, some even mercilessly tortured in Tora prison and Egyptian police stations. Months felt like years, the ensuing violence form both the state security services and terrorist cells were becoming a wear on Egypt's most financially stable tourism industry.
Egypt relies on it’s tourist hot spots from the Pyramids to the dunes. An average of 2.5 million people visit the awe inspiring make of Ramesses tombs as well as its multiple aging pyramids. 12% of the countries workforce is here, while also endorsing foreign workers to come and enjoy its benefits. Foreign workers meant taking away from Egypt’s more deserving citizens, it also saw an influx of Western citizens taking part in enjoying what Egypt had to offer. It was an invitation however for revenge. One that would tarnish Egypt’s tourism industry forever, while showcasing the extremes that terrorist groups born in Egypt would partake.
With Rahman in a U.S federal prison for the remainder of his natural life, Ahmed Refai Taha took over as leader of the Jamaat al-Islammiyah. With Hamza in prison, Taha, a loyal subject to Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took the initiative to construct an operation that would affect the country while also placating the JI. With many members having previously served in the Egyptian military, some of the high ranking members devised a plan to hold hostages at one of the main tourist sites located south of the country. Taha had previously threatened U.S citizens not just in Egypt, but also in Afghanistan. Back in 1996, Taha had publicly threatened to kidnap U.S. citizens in retaliation for the life imprisonment sentence of Sheikh Rahman. However a bigger plot had hatched, with one of the hottest tourist sites selected, Luxor. The Deir al-Bahari is located near the west bank of the Nile River. It is home to many of the countries awesome mortuary sites, one of them, the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, while being its second female in such a position. The idea was to threaten Egypt’s tourist industry causing the country to enter a repression of sorts, and to hurt the economy of Mubarak’s government.
The temple was understaffed, as per the common theme in Egypt. Poor security detail for its most sensitive industry. The members of the JI simply had to blend in, and trap tourists in the valley. Which was surrounded by its large mountains that overlooked the temple as giant guardians to the long deceased Pharaoh. November 17th 1997…..8:27am, Hagag Nahas of Isis Tour Bus, was driving a group of 30 Swiss citizens toward the Temple. He dropped them off, and drove away, he would return back in another hour. There would be a number of Japanese honeymooners this day as well. Meanwhile 6 men dressed in black security outfits passed, Said Ahmed Ghassan, a police guard at the entrance ticket booth. Ghassan asked for their tickets, one of them replied, “here is our ticket!” and shot Ghassan in the leg and torso, the Temple security began opening return fire, but too late as two weer killed on the spot. Leaving Ghassan indisposed at the gate.
Satako Yamashita was with her newlywed husband, when they heard a commotion near the courtyard of the Temple. The JI members began to corral the visitors and shot at Temple guards, so few, while others hid from the initial attacks. The rifles used were Soviet Kalashnikovs, as well as handguns, suspected to be stolen from a police station, as the planners were former military officers. The echoing of the shots also gave the eerie sounds of impending shock and doom for many who visited the temple. They would act in pairs, often trapping separate couples and shooting them in their heads, as they fell to the ground with slumped weight, which also made an insidious sound of impending death to those still alive. The worst however was yet to come. Many of the tourists were in pairs, and were made to kneel before their armed captors, while shooting them at will, one by one. According to some survivors of the incidents, they witnessed the heads of those shot explode, like pumpkins.
Others trapped inside the long corridor of the Temple hid some even with their children in tow. As the six men, showed absolutely no compulsion to whom they killed. Then came the long knives. These were meant for the men, and as some wailed on the ground injured from the initial gunfire, their throats were laid open by the sharp blades of their murderers. Often loud gurgling sounds as they laid in excruciating agony for the short moments of their life, as the blood soon drenched the very ground where many centuries ago, the ancestors of the Temple once walked. Bodies of the some, became the many, and the shouts of pain and torment filled the site, and echoed loudly as it bounced off the walls. According to the Washington Post, it soon became a massacre, instead of a hostage situation.
“After dispatching several people in the main courtyard inside the gate, the killers moved up the ramp to the Middle Court, a vast open space in which some tourists apparently were killed where they stood. Others took refuge against the wall of a ramp that leads to the third level, which is closed for restoration. The rear wall of the Middle Court consists of the Birth Colonnade on one side of the ramp and the Punt Colonnade on the other. Both colonnades were smeared with gore. A bloody handprint stood out on a sandstone pillar. Walls were spattered with human flesh, including pieces of scalp with hair attached. Blood soaked the sandy floor.”
Meanwhile as the situation became unbearable for the remaining survivors hiding in whatever crevasse they could, some hid under the bodies of the dead. The shots rang out to those running, and while they writhed in agony their assailants often walked toward their injured prey and seemingly enjoyed their disposal before cutting them open, often desecrating their bodies, by chopping off fingers, hands, and even decapitation. The ordeal seemed like years, for those who were hiding, it was 45 minutes. Time had literally stopped, as the bright sun scorched the blood dry leaving a painted dark expression on the floors of the Temple. A carpet of death.
Nahas had returned back for the visitors. According to Nahas, only 8 of the 30 would remain alive from the onslaught. As he drive just before the security checkpoint, the 6 men, some in bloodied attire, had blocked the road from the bus going further. They forced Nahas, to continue towards another tourist site near the Temple. The bus stopped near the access road to the Valley of the Queens, about half a mile from the Hatshepsut temple, security guards had blocked the road. The 6 men left the bus blazing outright. 3 were killed with Egyptian police, while the remaining three retreated in a nearby cave, ending their own lives. The carnage seemed to have finally ended.
The Egyptian security services and police then descended toward the Temple of Hatshepsut, where they witnessed utter barbarity on full display, that made even the more “hardened” officer wretch. Over 160 tourists that were witness to the days events, saw themselves become victims, while many were alive, over half suffered fatalities and gruesome injuries. Four Japanese honeymoon couples, 36 Swiss and three generations of a British family from Yorkshire including a five year old girl, were among the victims, in all….62 were murdered. Some even were seen walking around in a “zombie-like” state, some without noses, ears even flayed limbs from the maniacal killers of the Jamaat al-Islammiyah. The floors ran red with blood, streaking down over 100 feet from the center courtyard. Other areas had clumps of flesh, in another area a huddled group of excused people huddled and bent, their last moments in a frenzied state of shock and terror. Rigor mortis settled in, making some bodies curled up in a rocking position. The walls of the temple, had hand prints of blood which gave an almost hieroglyphic appearance. One body later was found to have been flayed at the abdomen, where one of the killers stuffed a leaflet which inscribed the deeds of why this incident took place. It was to pressure the United States to release the imprisoned “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman.
It was a scene of horror, it also shocked the entire world over. As the stories came out that 62 people killed by Egypt’s terrorist cells, it wasn’t just a global outrage, but Egyptian society who roared the loudest for true justice. If the original premise was to put the country at a total standstill of fear, it backfired, tenfold. Mubarak had promised total and unrelenting justice for the country and it’s victims of the attack. The victims families however were left with the eventual question…why?
Hans Schoepfer lost his sister Rosalie and his niece Cecile. He was left with the question…”How did they spend their last moments? It made me feel sad to think how short life is for all of us.”
Shoko Yamashita, from Japan, lost her sister Satoko and brother-in-law who were on their honeymoon. Yamashita came with a moral perspective. “How can some people value their religious faith and at the same time come up with such extreme ideas?”
Jean Dawson and John Laycock who suffered major losses in their family, as they lost three generations in the attack: 24 year-old air-hostess Karina, her mother Joan, and the youngest victim, Karina’s daughter, five-year-old Shaunnah.
The hierarchy of Jamaat al-Islammiyah responded in short time with a statement just days after the massacre.
“The al-Gama’a al-Islamiya [Islamic Group] could halt its military operations for a while if the Egyptian regime acts likewise and stops its unjust campaigns against the sons of the Gama’a, releases its prisoners, returns Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman to his homeland . . . and cuts relations with the Zionist entity. For 10 whole years the Egyptian regime has waged a vicious war in its attempt to uproot the Gama’a al-Islamiya from the hearts of its people and sons. Each time the Egyptian regime failed in this confrontation, the result is the removal of an interior minister.”
As Egyptian authorities and investigators committed to further the inquiry, they found out the main antagonist for jihad against the countries government came ten years ago, back in 1988. At the start of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Sayyid Imam Al-Sharif, also known as Dr.Fadl, was one of the primary influences of Jihadist ideology in Egypt. he is also one of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s oldest associates and is credited for the beginning foundations of Al Qaeda. Back in 1988, he would author a book, used by Jihadists as the manual for international jihad. “The Essentials of Making Ready for Jihad”.
“The “Guide” begins with the premise that jihad is the natural state of Islam. Muslims must always be in conflict with nonbelievers, Fadl asserts, resorting to peace only in moments of abject weakness. Because jihad is, above all, a religious exercise, there are divine rewards to be gained. He who gives money for jihad will be compensated in Heaven, but not as much as the person who acts. The greatest prize goes to the martyr. Every able-bodied believer is obligated to engage in jihad, since most Muslim countries are ruled by infidels who must be forcibly removed, in order to bring about an Islamic state. “The way to bring an end to the rulers’ unbelief is armed rebellion,” the “Guide” states.”
The Jihad was aimed at Arab secular governments. Egypt was in the cross-hairs naturally. Years after the massacre, its tourism industry continues to become lucrative. But the landscape remains pained by the ever reminder of what happened at the Temple courtyards of Hatshepsut, to which even Dr. Fadl has completely changed his envision of Jihad, and denounced terrorism, from his position in Tora prison. The very same prison which saw its deep recesses of hopelessness and despair which fortuitously shaped the mindsets like Sayyid Qutb, Mohammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, and Ayman al-Zawahiri to which they would commit acts of terrorism and banality against the state and foreigners.
Would Egypt finally learn its lesson? After experiencing decades of extra-judicial abuse and torture which helped shaped the minds of extremists, in which before they were not? In 2013, Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi swore in 17 new governors. One of them, Adel Mohamed al-Khayat, was a prominent leader of Jammat al-Islammiyah, who was also one of the primary architects of the Luxor Massacre. Morsi, originally from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, has also pardoned one JI member who was accused of trying to kill former President Hosni Mubarak. He has also previously called for the United States to free the group’s spiritual leader, Omar Abdel Rahman, who was jailed for life over a bid to blow up New York’s World Trade Center in 1993. It shocked many in Egypt. Including Khaled Fahmy at the American University in Cairo who would later go on to say….
“It’s as if the Muslim Brotherhood is reaching out to the extremists.”
The problems of Egypt now lie out in the open, instead of the dark cavernous prison tombs.