Tuesday, May 09, 2006

DEVELOPING STORY: Meanwhile in al Arish

Nasser Khamis al Mallahi, the alleged ring leader of the Dahab bombings was killed in a shoot-out with the security forces in al Arish today. The security forces got a tip, that Mallahi and an accomplice, Mohammed Abdullah Abu Grair, was in the Karama district, south of al Arish. The accomplice was not wounded in the shoot-out, and was taken into custody. Al Mallahi is the alleged leader of Monotheism and Jihad(same name as the group of the notorious Abu Musab az Zarqawi, before he decided to put up shop with al Qaida, allthough not related). Monotheism and Jihad claimed responsibility for the Taba bombings, and apperently al Mallahi was interrogated at that time(and confessed to the bombings, so why was he not on trial and in prison?)

¨Three leading members of the group that carried out the earlier bombings, namely, Nasser Khamis Al-Milahi, Id Salamah Al-Tarawi, and Muhammad Abdallah Jarjar operated within the organization. During interrogation, they confessed that they targeted tourist areas in southern Sinai.¨

The Michael Slackman piece, from the other day, happens to be focused on Mr Mallahi among other things. He the student of law in the delta town of Zagazig, maybe inspired by militant islamism, while on campus as so many before him. The most interesting fact of that article was in my view the eight percent full time employment rate for people between 20-30 years. And the fact that the only alternative seems to be season based farm work that pay´s as little as 2 USD/day. The situation in the Sinai seem to resemble middle Egypt at the height of the Gaámat al Islamiyya mini-insurgency 1992-1997. Years of government neglect, high unemployment rate , stigmatisation,uncalled for police brutality, due to lack of understanding of local conditions, and what have you.

So this will probably be portrayed as a major victory for the government. If he really is what they claimed him to be,it would be the equivelent of the U.S capturing UBL, Ayman az Zawahiri or Abu Mussab az Zarqawi, or indeed the capture of Saddam Hussein or the killings of Uday and Qusay. The government has claimed during the last 18 month since Taba via Sharm ash Shaikh and now Dahab that this is the work of the local group, that Mallahi was the alleged leader of. The operations has a lot in common with the ¨pattern¨ of vintage al Qaida, and the government claims that the group could be inspired by al Qaida, but that it has no links to the group. My sense is that this is to big to be made by a local group on it´s own. Some kind of co-operation is my guess. The fact that all three bombings was higly professional, coordinated in time etc , contrasted by the the two suicide bombings against the multinational monitoring force in al Gourah and the police stations, two days after,as well as another attack on the MNF a year earlier, and the attacks on tourists in the Khan al Khalili area in Cairo.

This is , in my view two different trends. But they are both fed by the same pool of socioeconomic, cultural and political-religous disenfrenchisement that so many young people feel, and indeed have felt for generations. The generation of the first lumpen inteligensia was young thirty years ago, unfortunately their problems, is the same problems that their sons and daughters are facing today, allthough accentuated. Until this is addressed the problem with decent young people, many times overachievers who want´s to try to climb the ladder of social mobility via a good university education, only to discover that that particular avenue is closed, and have been closed for years. The gap between expectation of a good life and the grim reality of ¨facts on the ground¨ is growing by the hour , that a very tiny portion of people choose the dreadful path, to the point that they are willing to die and kill, is a symptom of how bad things are in our society. We can listen to our leaders claiming that these people are crazy lunatics, but they where not born into militant islamism, terrorism and what have you, they where products of the society they live in, and it could have been any one of us. Terrorism, and militant islamism is not going away, until the gap is closed. The government will claim that this is a major development, but the gap is growing, and until we reverse that, we will have to live with this. If these questions where properly addressed, then people would be quite satisfied with going on living their normal, happy and fullfilling lives.

For additional information on the Dahab bombings and the attack on the MNF in Sinai


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