Committee Accuses Egyptian Ministry of Interior of Involvement in Attacks on Cathedral

In light of the attacks on St. Mark's Cathedral, a fact-finding committee demanded the dismissal of Maj. Gen. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Interior, insisting that charges be brought against him for failing to carry out his role and preserve public security.

The committee also demanded a restructuring of the entire ministry, and for an investigation to be conducted into the actions of other high-ranking police officials involved in the investigation of the attack on St. Mark's Cathedral.

In its report, the committee blamed the Ministry of the Interior for the attacks on the cathedral in Abasseya after the funeral service for the victims of Khosos.

Under the leadership of judge Mohamed el-Fawaz, chairman of the Civil Alliance for Human Rights, the committee stated that failure to ensure the security of the mourners was considered "direct involvement."

"The sight of police forces allowing assailants to attack the cathedral and the Papal residence, and idly watching them, is considered a direct involvement in this sinful act, which was enough to incite anger amongst people, affecting national unity," Fawaz wrote.

"The events that took place at the cathedral are not a result of a sectarian strife, but rather a hostage and terrorism situation," Fawaz added.

The committee quoted the testimony of Father Sargious, undersecretary of the cathedral, in which he said: "a number of assailants were able to jump on the Church's roofs, via the ladder found at the gas station next to the cathedral's main gate, and fired at citizens outside the cathedral to mislead public opinion and the media, making them think the aggressors came from inside the Church … we have no relations with these offenders and we know none of them."

Father Sargious pointed out "the cathedral's security was able to arrest a group of these people and detained them inside the security office inside the Church, then handed them over to police forces."

"We were surprised by the police's recognition and release of the perpetrators, and I do not know what stage the investigations have now reached and why the police officers took these strange actions?" he said.

In their report, the committee also quoted Atef Rafael's testimony, owner of gas station adjacent to the cathedral.

"Some people climbed to the rooftops of the cathedral using a metal ladder and opened fire on citizens and we couldn't do anything, as they were armed. We saw police officers outside the cathedral who recognized these people and were talking to them," he said.

The committee noted, "As we entered the cathedral, we found strict security measures at the gates and the main ones were shut. There were American tear gas canisters inside the Church grounds and shattered glass on the floors as a result of many Molotov cocktails thrown, doors were smashed and the security cameras at the main gate were destroyed."

"The removal of the metal ladder that connects the gas station to the cathedral's rooftops, by police officers, is evidence that these people came from outside the church, and that they used the ladder to climb up and open fire to give the impression that they were associated with the cathedral," the committee wrote.