EXPLOSIONS ROCK EGYPT
According to initial news reports, three explosions rocked the Egyptian Sinai resort city of Dahab on the night of April 24 (Haaretz, April 24). Two of the bombs targeted two separate restaurants, while the third exploded in a supermarket. The attacks came during a series of national celebrations in Egypt. The governor of the region told al-Jazeera that the attacks were the work of suicide bombers (al-Jazeera, April 25). At this point, however, it is not clear if suicide bombers were involved since there are conflicting reports and some investigators are stating that it was the work of timed explosive devices. Current reports estimate that 23 people were killed, while many more were wounded. Egyptian authorities have rounded up several suspects who allegedly were involved in the operation. The attacks come a day after Osama bin Laden released an audiotape calling on Muslims to join the jihad against the U.S. and against Western interests (Terrorism Focus, April 25).
SIXTEEN AL-QAEDA LINKED MILITANTS CONVICTED IN AZERBAIJAN
On April 19, a court in Azerbaijan convicted 16 individuals on crimes of executing terrorist attacks, possessing illegal weapons, killing a police officer in Baku in July 2005, in addition to other serious offenses (Interfax, April 20). The accused were allegedly members of extremist organizations, including al-Qaeda. The convicted include Russian, Turkish, Yemeni and Azerbaijani citizens, and they all reportedly attended a militant training camp near the Pankisi Gorge (Today.Az, April 18). The head of the “gang,” Hajiyev Arif Hasanbayovich, received a life sentence. The other 15 received sentences ranging from five to ten years (Azeri-Press Information Agency, April 19). Moscow has requested the extradition of Chankayev Gadji Ibrahimovich, one of the 16 who was sentenced for seven years, since they accuse him of participating in a May 2002 attack in Dagestan (Trend, April 20).
JORDANIAN COURT BEGINS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST AMMAN BOMBING SUSPECTS
On April 24, a Jordanian court began proceedings to try eight suspected terrorists responsible for the November 9 hotel bombings in Amman that killed 63 people. One of the defendants is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is being tried in absentia. Out of the eight, the only defendant who actually appeared in court was Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman whose suicide bomb-belt failed to explode during the attack (al-Bawaba, April 24). After the three other suicide bombers exploded their belts—one being her husband—she was apprehended by authorities and later appeared in a televised confession. Al-Rishawi is charged with conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts, causing death and destruction, and the illegal possession of explosives (Khaleej Times, April 24). She is originally from the Iraqi village of Ramadi in Anbar Province. She came to court without a lawyer, leading judges to quickly adjourn the hearing so that a state lawyer could be appointed to her (al-Jazeera, April 24).