A Sufi leader associated with a mosque where suspected "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) gunmen massacred hundreds of worshippers in Egypt said Tuesday (November 28th) the extremists had warned against holding Sufi rituals there, AFP reported.
Friday's massacre during prayers in the North Sinai town of Rawda killed 305 people when suspected ISIS gunmen surrounded the mosque and opened fire.
ISIS, which views some practices of the Sufi sect as heretical, had previously targeted the mystics by kidnapping one of their leaders and beheading him.
In one of their propaganda outlets, they had also vowed to fight the Sufis in Sinai, singling out the Jariri Sufi order associated with the mosque.
Sheikh Mohamed al-Jawish, deputy head of the Jariri order, said that less than a month ago extremists visited Rawda mosque and spoke to the muezzin, Fethy Ismail, who issued the call to prayer five times a day.
"They entered the mosque. They were unknown" to the congregants, he said.
He said they told the muezzin, who later died in the massacre: "Do not celebrate the Mawlid. Do not hold Sufi prayer circles."
Despite the warning, Jawish said no one expected ISIS would return and actually carry out a massacre which shocked even supporters of the group.
"No one expected this. They thought the issue ended with the warning not to hold the Sufi prayer circles," Jawish said in a phone interview.
If the mosque was attacked because of its Sufi connections, the massacre would be in line with ISIS in Egypt increasingly focusing on civilian targets as it makes little headway in its Sinai insurgency.