The Egyptian government said on Wednesday it had broken up a group of at least 22 militant Islamists planning bomb attacks on tourist targets, a gas pipeline near Cairo and Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement the underground organization called itself the Victorious Group and had members in suburbs northeast and south of the capital.
“Information, documents and interviews ... confirmed that they were studying carrying out terrorist operations against tourist targets, the gas pipeline on the Greater Cairo ring road and some sensitive sites through bombings,” it said.
“They were also studying targeting some Muslim and Christian religious figures and ... what they called degenerate youth in tourist areas,” it added.
The statement listed 22 members, led by a 26-year-old humanities student named Ahmed Mohamed Ali Badr, but did not say how many of them had been arrested.
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It said they had downloaded from the Internet information on how to make explosives and poisons but did not indicate they had succeeded in making them. It did not mention any weapons.
The ministry said Badr, known by the nickname Abu Musab, and his assistant “adopted the approach of jihad based on takfiri fundamentalist ideas.” Takfiris say that Muslims who disagree with their ideas are not true Muslims.
“(They had) deviant extremist ideas far from true Islam and a mistaken and perverse response to international and regional events,” the statement added.
The group was trying to buy a plot of land in El Saff, about 35 miles south of Cairo, as a training base, and had been in contact with groups abroad to seek help in sending members abroad to fight, it added.
An Islamist group planted two bombs in Cairo in April 2005, killing four people and wounding many others. The bombings appeared to be aimed at foreign tourists.
A separate group attacked the Red Sea tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in July, killing at least 67 people. Some information from the government suggested that the Red Sea bombers also had militant Islamist views.