Members of cell behind Cairo attack identified

By Mohammed Mahmoud in Cairo

Video footage tracking the route that the car involved in the explosion outside the National Cancer Institute in central Cairo took, shows that it arrived at the scene and drove against traffic by mistake, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said. [Video courtesy of the Egyptian Interior Ministry]

Egypt’s Interior Ministry has identified members of the terror cell behind the Sunday (August 4th) blast in central Cairo, outside the National Cancer Institute.

In an official statement issued Thursday evening, the ministry said the perpetrator of the attack is Abdul Rahman Khaled Mahmoud, a member of the Hasm group, for whom an arrest warrant had been issued in connection with a terrorism-related case in 2018.

The perpetrator’s identity was confirmed and information was analysed, and after DNA of the remains found at the site of the accident was tested and compared with members of his family, it added.

The perpetrator and his brother, whose role was to convey orders from the group’s leaders, were both members of the Hasm cell.


Weapons and explosives that were found at two hideouts the Egyptian security forces raided on August 8th after a blast outside the National Cancer Institute in central Cairo killed 22 people. [Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Interior Ministry]

Twenty-two people were killed and dozens injured in the blast in central Cairo's al-Manyal, which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi described as a "terrorist incident".

The blast was caused by a speeding car packed with explosives that smashed into three other vehicles as it was driving against traffic.

Raids, arrests in 72 hours

The ministry said it has arrested the perpetrator’s brother, Ibrahim Khaled Mahmoud, who serves as communications officer and receives orders from abroad.

When he was questioned, he told the security agencies about the whereabouts of another Hasm member, Islam Mohammed Qurani, a defendant in a prior explosives-manufacturing case.

When the forces approached his place in al-Tebin, Helwan, east of Cairo, Qurani opened fire on the forces, while the perpetrator’s brother, Ibrahim, tried to escape, prompting the forces to respond and kill both of them.

Meanwhile, confessions of an arrested cell member called Hossam Ahmed, also known as Moaz, included that he joined Hasm in 2018 and was specialised in logistical support and monitoring, and that orders came from the group's leaders abroad.

Ahmed said that he arranged a visit for the perpetrator of the Cairo attack with his family at al-Azhar Park to bid them goodbye after he learned of his assigned task.

Video footage of the park has shown the moment the perpetrator said goodbye to his family just one day before the attack.

The ministry said that while tracking the remaining fugitive elements of the cell, it identified two hideouts: one in an abandoned building in Fayoum and the other in an apartment in al-Shorouk city, east of Cairo.

Security forces raided the two hideouts at dawn Thursday, killing 15 members of the cell. They found weapons, explosives and material used in manufacturing explosives at the sites.

Former Assistant Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Farouk al-Muqrahi said that the Egyptian authorities identified the cell behind the blast and moved against it less than 72 hours after the incident.

"This is proof that the security agencies are making huge efforts around the clock to collect information on extremists and their plans and movements," he told Al-Mashareq.

"The way Egyptian security agencies operate has greatly improved in recent years," al-Muqrahi said. "They now have a strong database and can move immediately before the extremists can carry out their terrorist operations."

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