The barbaric attack on helpless worshippers at Al-Rawdah mosque in North Sinai, Egypt, on Friday bore the hallmark of Islamic State (IS). The 20-odd masked gunmen in military-like uniform carrying an IS flag came in five all-terrain vehicles, positioned themselves near doors and windows of the mosque as Friday prayers were underway and riddled the worshippers with bullets. Those who tried to flee were mercilessly gunned down. Even ambulances waiting to carry the dying and the injured came under heavy gunfire. At least 305 worshippers, including 27 children, were killed in cold blood. The irony is both the perpetrators and the victims believed in the same god.
Why did IS kill people in such a brutal fashion? The mosque was frequented by Sufis, followers of a mystic branch of Islam whom IS regards as infidels, and local Sawarka tribe who support military action against the terror group. The mosque belongs to the Sufi order, Jaririyeh. IS had issued several warnings to Sufis to stop their “un-Islamic” rituals. Last year, they even killed one of the Sufi leaders Sheikh Sulaiman Abu Haraz who had great influence over the nomadic tribes who came to hear his sermons. IS wants to wipe Sufis from the Egyptian soil. The terror group has also stepped up attacks against the military for ousting Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. IS killed 33 soldiers in separate attacks on 24 October, 2014 prompting Cairo to impose a three-month emergency in parts of North Sinai. IS attacks are continuing. In July this year, at least 23 soldiers were killed an IS offensive.
As President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi declared a three-day national mourning for those who lost their lives in Friday’s massacre and vowed to avenge it, Egypt began airstrikes targeting IS militants who are suspected to have fled to nearby mountains. El-Sisi said Egypt is standing alone to fight terrorism on behalf of the world. He is not alone. The whole world is with him because IS is a common threat to all. People of all faiths should unite to wipe this terror group.