Militant group Ajnad Misr claimed Sunday evening responsibility for the explosion in Zamalek on the same day, which left one police officer killed.
“Again, God has enabled our brave soldiers to plant a sticky bomb in a gathering for the criminal institutions above the 15th of May Bridge,” the Salafi militant group said in post on the social media page of their official media outlet.
Most of the group’s statements and rhetoric describe security forces as “criminal institutions”. The attack led to the “annihilation of the criminal Hamdy Sabry Al-Miligy who is a Corporal”, the group added.
On Sunday morning, a bomb exploded on the western end of the 15th of May Bridge, killing an officer and injuring two others.
Hours after the attack, Interior Ministry spokesperson Hani Abdel Latif announced that security forces raided a flat in the Haram district of Giza, where an alleged militant was hiding.
After gathering sufficient intelligence, the forces exchanged fire with the suspect, leading to his death, Abdel Latif said in a ministry statement. The deceased, named Hamam Attia, was described by the ministry to have been the founder of Ajnad Misr.
The ministry added that Attia participated and planned different attacks on security personnel and facilities, as well as civilian gatherings. He is also wanted in other cases related to organising violent Islamist groups.
Ajnad Misr is one of the militant groups that emerged following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, and has claimed attacks in Cairo and Giza.
Sabra Al-Qasmy, a former Jihadist and one of the founders of the Egyptian Jihad group, said that the killing of Attia is a tough blow to Ajnad Misr.
“The operation showed a successful attempt to use intelligence to dismantle terrorism. The positive effects of the presence of the new interior minister are starting to appear,” the ministry statement continued.
The newly appointed Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, who used to head the ministry’s intelligence agency, has served in different departments that countered political Islam. He was appointed in the beginning of March, succeeding General Mohamed Ibrahim.
Attia is the founder of the true Ajnad Misr, and has assisted in more than 26 operations undertaken by the group, Al-Qasmy said. “When killed, the forces found huge amount of explosive devices.”
Al-Qasmy asserted that similar raids will take place in the future, as “the police must have acquired a considerable amount of intelligence, which ranges from computers to telephone devices and contact lists of fellow militants”.
“Attia was trained by militants outside Egypt, such as Abu Quhafa Al–Masry,” Al-Qasmy said, adding that Al–Masry is one of the most prominent jihadists who travelled the Arab world from Afghanistan to Libya, training militants in bomb making.
However, Al-Qasmy denied that the current operations of the group resemble the militancy Egypt witnessed in the 1990s.
“Now it is a matter of reaction. A reaction to the social factors that are changing in the Arab world,” he said, adding that this technique is very close to that of “Islamic State”.
In the 1990s, the Egyptian state was involved in a more violent confrontation with extremist Islamist groups, leaving hundreds of militants, security personnel, and civilians killed.
On the other hand, Nageh Ibrahim, a founder of the radical Islamist group Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, disagrees with Al-Qasmy. He told Daily News Egypt that the Takfiri ideology of Ajnad Misr is close to that of Al-Qaeda, which bases its targeting on “profession”.
“For them [Ajnad Misr], to be a police or army officer means that you must be killed,” Ibrahim said, asserting that militant operations are random, and target all police officers with no specification.
This type of killing can be called “killing due to profession”, which targets all state authorities, judges, employees, officers, and officials.
“They don’t know the identities of the Homeland Security apparatus, who lead most of the interrogations, or those who specialise in Islamic militancy,” he added.
After the forced ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, some militant groups claimed to “monitor” police personnel, by publishing videos and pictures of officers on duty, and have claimed responsibility for planting improvised explosive devices in front of police stations.
“Although they claim to know the identity of the officers, they usually circulate false information of officers who they accuse of torture in police stations and prison,” Ibrahim clarified.
Sunday’s attacks were not the first against officers. Last March, the group claimed responsibility for the bombing that injured eight people at the Cairo University metro.
During the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, they claimed an explosion occurred near a Central Security Forces position close to the entrance to Al-Shams Sporting Club.
Ali Baker, a researcher specialising in Jihadi groups, told Daily News Egypt that operations targeting specific police officers should be analysed in the context of the groups’ attempt to “spread terror in the Interior Ministry and expand their operations”.
They operate randomly, firing at checkpoints and police stands in streets and squares, as well as targeting specific elements especially those involved in interrogations, the prison departments, and the investigation bureau, he said.
“Even though, some pages release information and the addresses of officers, who are argued to have participated in violent dispersals, torture, brutal investigations, or the arrest of female protesters, the percentage of these selected targets is much smaller,” Baker explained.
The most prominent assassination to take place after the revolution was in 2014, whereGeneral Mohamed Al-Saied, head of the minister of interior’s technical office, was shot and killed by unknown militants.
Currently, 20 alleged members of the extremist armed group, Ajnad Misr, who are charged with conducting at least 20 different bomb attacks in Egypt, are being tried, with a media gag imposed on the case.