Public prosecutors in Egypt have referred 48 terrorism suspects to military tribunal on suspicion of involvement in carrying out three separate suicide bombing attacks against churches.
Of the 48, 31 are in police custody, leaving 17 as yet unaccounted for, according to Middle East Eye.
The suspects are accused of setting up ISIS cells in Cairo and the southern province of Qena.
ISIS openly and deliberately targets the Christian minority in Egypt in the hope of fanning the flames of existing sectarian tensions and bringing more Egyptians on board with the jihadi message.
In February, ISIS released a threatening video calling Christians their “favorite prey”, saying “God gave orders to kill every infidel.”
According to The Atlantic, in 2014, ISIS ideologue Abu Mawdud al-Harmasy penned a study on how to provoke jihad in Egypt, entitled “The Secret of The Egyptian Enigma.” As part of his “keys for jihadi success” he recommends “sectarian killing of Christians,” saying “most importantly targeting directly every Christian without exceptions.” The goal of the sectarian violence, apart from fulfilling what they believe is their ideological imperative to kill minorities, is “revealing the reality of the conflict and
In other words, ISIS feels by targeting Christians it can expand its reach within Egypt since the killings will provoke animosity between Christians and Muslims and promote strife. This is the same tactic ISIS pursued in Iraq in carrying out sectarian killings of Shi’ites.