CAIRO: Earlier this week, like all Egyptians, I was discussing the bomb that went off at Al-Hussein on Sunday in the presence on my young nephew.
“So what happened? he asked.
“A bomb went off at a popular tourist bazaar in Cairo, killed a 17-year-old French girl and wounded 24 others, I said. “It was terrible.
“Obviously the person who made that bomb doesn’t know what he’s doing, he said, as we all stared at him in disbelief.
Even my nine-year-old nephew was able to figure it out. So when tall tales began wasting column inches in newspapers we consider credible, I wanted to do something drastic.
Nothing beat an Al-Masry Al-Youm story that appeared on the front page of their Wednesday issue, citing an anonymous security source.
According to their story a female eyewitness who was in the vicinity to take pictures of her children near Al-Hussein Mosques, said that she had seen the three men who she believed to be the perpetrators of the attack.
The unnamed security source reportedly said that the eyewitness said she saw a man throwing a bag from the window of the Al-Hussein Hotel into the street. It was picked up by another man who left it under one of the stone benches in the square, before it eventually exploded. The two of them apparently jumped into a taxi where a bearded man sat next to the driver.
She followed the taxi all the way to their residence in Helmiyat Al Zeitoun.
To top it off, when she arrived at the alleged bombers’ home (note that her children are with her in the car through all this), she asked a man at a shop beneath their building about their names. He identified them as Marawan and Nasser.
As journalists, we always complain about how the interior ministry is tight-lipped about information when it comes to major incidents, but there’s a limit to what the media can do to get a grabbing headline.
The ministry, which I must admit, has been uncharacteristically efficient in publicizing the facts it had collected in the media and on its website, while maintaining that an investigation is still underway, made no mention whatsoever of the mystery “Nancy Drew-Mama in any of its statements, despite providing media updates such as the fact that 11 people who were taken in for questioning, and that the initial suspects (two women wearing the niqab and one male companion) were released.
The ministry also eliminated the theory that the bomb was thrown from the Al-Hussein Hotel overlooking the square, describing the bomb in detail. According to a MENA report quoting a security source, the bomb, which weighed in at between half a kilo and 750 grams was made up of two canisters placed inside a plastic water cooler and detonated with a washing machine timer. It was filled with gunpowder and rocks similar to that used in fireworks children play with during festivities.
First of all, it simply doesn’t make sense for them to take such a big risk by throwing the bomb from the window if it already had a timer. Investigations have revealed that the bomb was placed under the stone bench, so why would the bombers play catch with it when they intended it to go off at a specific time from a specific spot?
Besides, what kind of mother would risk taking her children on a wild goose chase of possible murderers?
Apart from this action-packed work of fiction, many people were facetiously convinced that arch-enemy Israel is behind the attack to distract attention from its plans to evict some 1,500 Palestinians and destroy more than 80 houses in east Jerusalem.
And my personal favorite is the theory implicating Hamas sympathizers who wish to get back at the Egyptian regime by hurting the tourism; as if the economy isn’t suffering as it is.
Enough conspiracy theories.
Of course the loss of a single human life is a terrible tragedy and on behalf of all Egyptians, I’d like to extend my deepest condolences to the family of the victim of this horrid act, but if anything, the haphazard, primitive way the whole operation was conducted should set our hearts to rest.
This was no complex, meticulously masterminded terrorist act targeting a maximum number of victims, but the desperate act of a handful of brain-washed, disenfranchised criminals whose likes exist anywhere in the world.
As most analysts have said, this blast was random and will not have the feared ramifications on tourism that resulted from the Luxor terror attack over 10 years ago, so it’s vital that the media let the investigation take its course and not volunteer inaccurate information, or become a soap box for conspiracy theorists.
Rania Al Malky is the Chief Editor of Daily News Egypt.