It was early morning on Saturday, July 11, 2015 when Cairo awoke to the sound of a huge explosion. Coming just 12 days after the assassination of Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat, and ten days after a massive assault on the city of Sheikh Zuwaid by Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State’s local affiliate, residents feared the country’s widening terrorist insurgency had claimed another high-ranking official in the heart of mainland Egypt. It soon became apparent that the attack had instead targeted the Italian consulate, a rather soft diplomatic target. More significant than the target, however, was the quickly released statement claiming responsibility. Instead of a claim by Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State mother organization itself took the credit.
The following month in the early hours of August 20 residents in north Cairo awoke once again to a terrifying explosion. This time the target was a State Security building on the northern-most edge of the Cairo metropolis, and once again Islamic State took responsibility for the attack not Wilayat Sinai.
This raises significant questions regarding why the Islamic State would directly claim, and presumably conduct this attack and whether something was amiss in the relationship between the Islamic State in Raqqa and its Egyptian affiliate?
The above excerpt was originally published in Combating Terrorism Center Sentinel.
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