Just days after the attack on the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egyptian President Morsi made it abundantly clear that he intends to follow his Islamist agenda by freeing the notorious terrorist, Mostafa Hamza.
Imprisoned under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Hamza is one of the most prominent Salafi figures released by President Morsi. The timing of his pardon sends a strong message to the West that Islamist ideals will be the basis of power in the new Egypt.
Using the nom de guerre, Abu Hazem, Hamza rose to prominence as a leader of the once illegal Islamist organization, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, and he is suspected of being a member of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He was serving a prison sentence for his various crimes and for belonging to an outlawed political organization.
Among his many crimes against humanity, Hamza was found guilty of plotting to assassinate former President Hosni Mubarak during a visit to Ethiopia in 1995. Hamza is also the mastermind behind the 1997 terror attack on foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt that left 62 people dead.
The Luxor Massacre, carried out on orders from Hamza, ranks as one of the most brutal episodes in the history of terrorism. On November 17, 1997, six black-garbed gunmen killed two police officers and seized the foreign tourists who were visiting the Luxor Temple. They shot those who attempted to flee, cut their throats, and then took their time as they slowly butchered their helpless victims. One of the few survivors described the brutality in detail:
“As they ran past a Japanese tourist one of the men fired into the woman’s face from a range of about 15 inches.”
“They made us get down on our knees and then they started shooting. A man who was very heavy fell on me and the lady behind me also covered me … They shot me in the arm and leg, and then they started again shooting those who were still alive in the head.”
“The gunmen “took all the young women, the girls, and disappeared with them. I don’t know where they went with the women, but they hurt them. We could hear screams of pain.”
“It went on for a long time, an hour or an hour and a half. The terrorists came back again and again; they danced and sang.”
“Among the horrors, the marauders cut off the ears and noses of several of their victims. A note praising Islam was found inside one disemboweled body.”
“The foreign dead included 31 Swiss, 10 Japanese, five Germans, four Britons; one a child, a Bulgarian, a Colombian and a French citizen. The Japanese victims were four newlywed couples and an elderly couple on their second honeymoon.”
In the wallet of one of the terrorists, police found a note from Hamza with instructions for the attack. Hamza’s organization, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, took responsibility for the massacre. They called for the release of their spiritual leader, Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as The Blind Sheikh, who was serving a life sentence in the United States for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The terrorists also demanded that Egypt renounce the peace treaty with Israel and free all Islamists from Egyptian prisons.
After disappearing from public view, Hamza was tried in abstentia and faced three separate death sentences in Egypt. He fled his native land and resurfaced from time to time in various terrorist strongholds. He was hiding in Iran in 2004 when he finally overstayed his welcome. Despite his strong Islamist ties, Hamza fell victim to Iran’s desire to restore their damaged relationship with Egypt. As a gesture of goodwill, Iran turned Hamza over to Egyptian authorities, and he was promptly extradited. Back in Egypt, Hamza was brought to justice, and he remained in prison until his pardon this week.
Here in America, President Morsi still finds favor with the Obama Administration. However, the danger that Morsi’s Islamist agenda poses to the West is not lost on critics of Obama’s policy of appeasement. Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, emphasized the disgust many Americans feel over this latest slap in the face from the Egyptian President:
“After the September 11, 2012 attacks, Morsi pardoned one of the worst monsters in the ranks of Egyptian Salafists, the man who ordered this atrocity (the Luxor Massacre). This is not an accident, this is a message. It is a statement from the Muslim Brotherhood that Obama has put in charge of Egypt. ‘I am with you.’ ”
“Whatever outrage there was over the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber should be doubled and trebled in this case. The Luxor Massacre was far more horrifying than Lockerbie. It was closer to Beslan and Morsi has made it clear that his new Egypt is on the side of the perpetrators of the Luxor Massacre.”