Bombed Egypt church was listed as Qaeda target

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DUBAI: An Al-Qaeda website had identified in December the church in Alexandria, Egypt, which was bombed on New Year’s Day as being among Coptic places of worship designated as targets.

Al-Qeddesine (The Two Saints) Church, where 21 people were killed and 97 wounded in Saturday’s bombing, was on a list posted by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shumukh al-Islam website of 50 Coptic churches across Egypt.

Coptic churches in several European countries, including France, Germany and Britain, also figured on the list which was posted on Dec. 2.

A message announcing “bomb attacks against churches during Christmas … when they will be most crowded” was posted alongside the list of would-be targets.

“Get up and give up sleep,” said the message.

“This is an important notice on bomb attacks against churches during Christmas,” it said.
It urged “every Muslim who cares about the honor of his sisters to bomb these churches during Christmas celebrations, when they will be most crowded.”

No one claimed responsibility for the Alexandria church attack, which came two months after an Al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate claimed responsibility for a deadly Baghdad church hostage-taking and threatened Coptic Christians.

The Islamic State of Iraq demanded the release of two women — Camelia Shehata and Wafa Constantine — priests’ wives who the group said had converted to Islam and were being held by the church against their will.

The church has denied that either of the women converted or that they were being detained by force.

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