Security officials said on Sunday that the Egyptian man who stabbed to death three tourists and wounded three others earlier this month in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada was tasked by the Islamic State group to carry out an attack against foreigners.
The officials said that investigations revealed 29-year old Abdel-Rahman Shaaban had communicated with two IS leaders on social media after they recruited him online.
One of them gave Shaaban daily lessons for a month after which he got in touch with the other, who asked him carry out an attack against tourists in either the resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh or Hurghada, to prove his allegiance to the group, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Shaaban rode a bus from the Nile Delta province of Kafr el-Sheikh to Hurghada on July 14 and headed to a beach hotel where he killed two German women and wounded two Armenians, a Ukrainian and a Czech woman, using a knife that he bought earlier from a store, the officials added. Shaaban was arrested shortly after he was chased by hotel workers and security guards who handed him over to the police.
The Czech woman, who was hospitalized with back and leg injuries after the attack, died last week.
Shaaban is a resident of Kafr el-Sheikh where he attended the business school of the local branch of Al-Azhar University – the world’s foremost seat of learning of Sunni Islam and the target of mounting criticism in recent months over its alleged radical teachings and doctrinal rigidity.
The resort attack took place just hours after five policemen were killed in a shooting near some of Egypt’s most famous pyramids in the greater Cairo area. The Interior Ministry said last week that its forces killed four suspects and arrested two others who were behind the killing of the policemen.
Egypt’s government has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an Islamic State affiliate that is centered in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula, though attacks on the mainland have recently increased.
The extremist group has been mainly targeting security personnel and Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.