At least 20 people were killed and 47 injured, including some in critical condition, in a car explosion on midnight August 4, 2019, outside Egypt’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Manyal neighborhood in central Cairo.
According to Egypt’s interior ministry, the vehicle carried explosives and was on its way to carry out a terrorist operation, although the site of the planned attack is unclear.
The ministry said the explosives-laden car drove into oncoming traffic and collided with three others, detonating its charge. The vehicle was reported stolen a few months ago in Menoufiya, the ministry said.
The interior ministry named Hasm, a violent offshoot of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, as the organization responsible for the attack, and said a member of the group had been arrested in connection with the blast.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued a statement offering condolences to the victims and condemning the attack. “The Egyptian state is determined to confront acts of terrorism and uproot them, with all its institutions,” he wrote.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has tasked Egypt’s leading construction company (Arab Contractors Company) with immediately starting repairs on the NCI building, given that the institute provides important services for many patients.
Egypt’s Attorney General Nabil Sadiq had assigned South Cairo Prosecution to pursue an investigation into the crash.
The Hasm Group
“Hasm” means “Decisiveness” in Arabic, but the name of the group can also be an acronym of the Arabic phrase “Harakat Sawa’d Misr,” which literally means “Arms of Egypt Movement.” The Hasm movement’s official social media pages were launched in 2015. After tracing the “electronic fingerprint” of the group on social networking platforms, Egypt contacted Facebook and Twitter to suspend Hasm’s terrorist group’s accounts.
Hasm announced its existence in June 2016 via a website and staged its first attack on July 16, 2016, targeting the intelligence chief of Fayoum governorate. Hasm operatives opened fire on his convoy, leading to the death of Major Mahmoud Abdel-Hamid, a police officer and a police conscript. Since 2016, the group has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks on security forces as well as assassination attempts on public figures. On February 11, 2017, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters designated Hasm as a terrorist group.
Previous Hasm Terror Attacks
On March 7, 2019, Egyptian police killed seven terrorists from the Hasm group in Cairo’s Six of October City. The State Security Department acted upon reliable intelligence that a terror cell belonging to Hasm had been planning to plant an IED. Police forces set up a checkpoint to stop a suspected truck thought to be carrying the terrorists, who opened fire after approaching the checkpoint, injuring one police officer. Police fired back on the attackers – who were disguised as electricity maintenance workers – killing three of them. The police seized arms and ammunition from the truck, as well as the IED the terrorists were planning to plant. Security forces also raided the terrorists’ hideout at an apartment in a building in Six of October City, killing four other terrorists in a shootout. Police forces seized arms, ammunition, and explosives from the hideout.
On February 19, 2019, Al-Hassan Abdallah, 37, blew himself up when security forces tried to arrest him, killing three policemen and himself. The explosion took place in a crowded quarter and wounded several passers-by. The terrorist was a supporter of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. He made several attempts to infiltrate Sinai in order to join ISIS, but failed. He later joined the Hasm group and was responsible for lookout and surveillance operations. Four days before his death, he attempted to plant an IED near a police station by al-Istiqama Mosque in Giza Square, but explosive experts succeeded in defusing the device.
On December 19, 2016, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior announced the death of Mohammed Ashour Dashisha, one of the Hasm movement’s most dangerous members, after an exchange of fire with the police in a residential neighborhood in Sixth of October City. Following this incident, the Hasm movement declared a new phase, which it dubbed “jihad and resistance,” against President El-Sisi’s regime.
On December 9, 2016, at least six policemen were killed and three others were injured in a bomb blast near a police checkpoint in Giza governorate’s Haram district. The blast struck near Al-Salam mosque in Haram Street mosque on Pyramids Road, the main avenue leading from the city center out to the Giza pyramids, which is often used by tour buses. Hasm claimed responsibility for the attack.
On September 29, 2016, a car bomb exploded as the top prosecutor-general’s deputy Zakaria Abd El-Aziz, was passing in a convoy in the First Settlement area of New Cairo. Abd El-Aziz and his guards were not injured, but one passer-by was wounded. In June 2015, Egypt’s top prosecutor Hisham Barakat was assassinated in Cairo in a similar attack. The Hasm movement claimed responsibility.
[Sources: Ahram Online, The Guardian, Albawaba, Al Ahram Weekly, Al-Monitor, Mada Masr, Al Arabiya]