CONTENT PREVIEW
Terrorism & Insurgency

Hasm Movement's claim of responsibility for Myanmar embassy attack in Egypt indicates new pan-Islamic motivation and expanding target set

03 October 2017
Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar, 2 October 2017. Source: Fred Dufour/Getty Images

Key Points

  • The Hasm Movement is claiming for the first time to target civilians associated with foreign governments in Egypt under the banner of pan-Islamic solidarity.
  • The sophistication of previous attacks and the location of this attack on the Cairo island neighbourhood of Zamalek suggests that the group is improving its capabilities and intelligence network.
  • Most at risk of attack will continue to be members of the Egyptian security services, but foreign embassies accused of persecuting Muslims or overtly supporting the president are also likely to be targets.

Event

On 1 October, the militant Islamist group, Harakat Sawa’id Misr (Hasm), claimed responsibility for the alleged detonation of an improvised explosive device outside the Myanmar embassy in Cairo on the evening of 30 September.

The attack took place in the Zamalek neighbourhood of Gezira island, an affluent district of Cairo with a high concentration of foreign embassies, expatriate residents, and cultural centres. There were no reported injuries. Terror attacks in Zamalek are rare; IHS Markit last recorded an incident involving an improvised explosive device (IED) that killed a police officer in April 2015. Access to the island is limited to two bridges and by boat; the ability of Hasm to plant an explosive outside an embassy without detection by the deployed security forces is indicative of a high level of operational sophistication.

The explosion at the Myanmar embassy was initially reported as the result of a gas leak on Mahmoud Sedky Street, but IHS Markit assesses that given Hasm’s record of attacks on security forces and substantiated claims of responsibility the attack is probably genuine.

Hasm Movement claims responsibility

Hasm claimed responsibility via the social media platform Telegram, stating that the Myanmar embassy was targeted in retaliation for sectarian persecution of the Rohingya Muslims that has escalated in the past month.

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