A Timeline of Recent Events

Islamism, Religious Conflict and Terrorism


Muslim Brotherhood's Founding and Terror Campaign : 1928 -- 1965

  • 1943 - Muslim Brotherhood establishes "a `secret apparatus` as a separate organization for paramilitary activity under the direct authority of Sheikh Hasan al-Banna." (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1948 March - Judge Ahmad Khazendar assassinated by two members of the brotherhood after he passes a "severe sentence" against another member of the Brotherhood who had attacked British soldiers in a bar in Egypt. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1948 May 14 - British finally leave Palestine. State of Israel declared. Armies of Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq attack. War does not go well for Arabs.
  • 1948 June 11 - First Israeli-Arab ceasefire declared.
  • 1948 June - Jewish Homes of Jews set ablaze in Cairo by operatives of the Brother's special apparatus in reaction to Israeli victory over Muslim Arab armies. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1948 July - Arson attacks by the Brothers against two large department stores in Cairo owned by Jews. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1948 November - Police seize a car containing the documents and plans of the Brotherhood's `secret apparatus` with names of its members. 32 of its leaders are arrested and its offices raided. (Chamieh, p.140)
    "The following list of outrages was attributed to the terrorist organization: the explosion outside the house of Mustapha El Nahas, president of the WAFD, early in the year; the attempted bombings of the Sudan Agency; bombings of department stores of Ades, Ben Zion, Gettegno, the Delta Land Company and the Societe Orientale de Publicite and the most recent tommy-gun attempt on the life of Nahas Pasha." New York Times

  • 1948 December 8, 9 - Prime Minister Mahmud Fami Naqrashi orders the dissolution of the Brotherhood, which is thought to have grown to as many as one million members by this point. (
    Its assets are seized and many members arrested. (Chamieh, p.140) "Egyptian police ... arrested 31 of a total of 51 persons wanted as members of the Moslem Brotherhood and placed red wax seals over the doorjambs of the Moslem Brotherhood organizations." (NY Times)
    Following dissolution some Brethren emigrate to other Muslim countries spreading the Brotherhood's message "to Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, even Pakistan." (Ruthven, p.312)

  • 1948 December 28 - Prime Minister Naqrashi shot and assassinated by Abdel Meguid Ahmed Hassan, a veterinary student and member of the Brotherhood. Country shocked. Traditionalist clergy condemn the act. Egyptian Mufti, Imam of Azhar mosque and the Council of Ulema condemn the perpetrators as kuffar. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1949 February 12 - Hasan al-Banna, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is assassinated. (NY Times) Assassins are supporters of the murdered premier. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1949 Feb.-June - Israel and Arab states (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan) agree to armistice in separate agreements. Israel gains about 50% more territory than was originally allotted to it by the UN Partition Plan. The war creates about 780,000 Palestinian refugees who flee or are evicted from Jewish held areas. Gaza falls under the jurisdiction of Egypt. The West Bank of the Jordan is occupied by Jordan and later annexed, consistent with secret agreements with the Jewish leadership made before the outbreak of hostilities.
  • 1951 "Nahas Pasha, the Wafdist Prime Minister, unilaterally abrogates the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty" in defiance of the British."Brotherhood comes out in the open in support of the government, calling for a jihad against the British." Members participate in military training. (Ruthven, p.313)
  • 1952 January 24 - British soldiers kills more than a dozen Egyptian auxiliary policeman at Ismailiyya after confrontation. (Ruthven, p.313)
  • 1952 January 25 - "Black Sunday." Arson attack on central Cairo. "Clubs and hotels, bars, cinemas and restaurants, establishments where foreigners and Muslim kafirs congregate" are burnt to the ground. Muslim Brotherhood helped organize and execute attack. (Jansen, p.149) (Ruthven, p.313)
  • 1953 July 23 - military coupe d'etat overthrows Egyptian monarchy. (Chamieh, p.140)
  • 1953 - Egyptian author and critic Sayyid Qutb joins Muslim Brotherhood two years after returning from a two year visit to America which repelled him with its materialism, and its mixing of the sexes. (Calvert) Qutb is put "in charge of the Department of Propagation of the Message in the Central office" of Brotherhood. (Hasan, p.10)
  • 1954 October 26 - assassination attempt on President Nasser by Brotherhood member as Nasser delivers a public speech in Alexandria. Assassination is a protest against treaty signed by Nasser evacuating British forces from the Canal Zone. Suppression of Brotherhood follows. (Chamieh, p.141)
  • 1954 December - Execution of six of the most prominent leaders of the brotherhood in retaliation for assassination attempt. Thousands of other members imprisoned, including author Sayyid Qutb who's sentenced to 25 years of hard labour. (Chamieh, p.141) Most of the Brotherhoods 4000 activists are now in prison or in exile. (Ruthven, p.314)
  • 1957 - Members of the Brotherhood meet in Saudi Arabia to relaunch the movement with the active financial help of the Sa'udi government, a hardened foe of President Nasser and his modernist secularism. (Chamieh, p.142)
  • 1958 - Egypt unites with Syria to form the United Arab Republic. (Chamieh, p.142)
  • 1961 - Union with Egypt dissolved by new Syrian leaders following army coup. (Chamieh, p.142)
  • 1964 - Milestones is published. Book was written by Sayyid Qutb, a leading Muslim Brotherhood member, while Qutb was in prison. It argues (amongst other things) that the Islamic community has ceased to exist as a result of Muslims failure to follow Islamic law, a.k.a. shari’ah, and that a virulent anti-Muslim "crusading spirit remains at the core of Western culture." Book meets with "instant success; during the first six months of 1965," it goes "through five further editions." (Algar, p.9, 15)
  • 1964 December - Sayyid Qutb, imprisoned for 10 years, is released early from prison allegedly at the intercession of President Abd al-Salam `Aref of Iraq. (Algar, p.9)
  • 1965 August 5 - Qutb and other Brotherhood members are arrested (again), "accused of subversion and terrorism and encouragement of sedition," and put on trial. (Algar, p.9) 1000 Brothers arrested. 365 put on trial. (Ruthven, p.314)
  • 1966 May 17 - Qutb and 6 other Brotherhood members are convicted of the charges against them and condemned to death. (Four of these convictions are commuted to life imprisonment.) (Algar, p.10)
  • 1966 August 29 - Qutb and two other Brotherhood members hanged. Qutb in particular becomes famous as a shahid (or martyr). His book Milestones becomes even more popular. (Algar, p.10)
  • 1967 June 5-10 - Six-Day Arab-Israeli War. War is a disaster for the Arab world in general and for Egypt in particular which suffers several thousand dead and loses the Sinai peninsula to Israel. War is widely seen as discrediting Arab nationalism.

    Post-Muslim Brotherhood, Qutb-Inspired Terror Campaign : 1970-2000

  • 1970 - Nasser dies. Vice President Anwar al-Sadat becomes president. (Chamieh, p.143)
  • 1971 May 15 - Sadat announced "Rectification Revolution," ousting rivals in the political establishment. Revolution includes later release of some political prisoners (including Shukri Mustafa). (Kepel, 1986, p.105, 74)
  • 1971 July 8 - Sadat declares general amnesty "for all those who had been sentenced to prison terms for their political ideas before 15 May 1971." (Kepel, 1986, p.105)
  • 1972 - Pres. al-Sadat expels Soviet military advisors as part of his move away from the left and towards Islam, the West, and a more open economy. The resulting increase in prices, inequality, and permissiveness from this move strengthens support for the Brotherhood and Islamist opposition to the government in general. Paradoxically, Sadat supports many Islamists as allies against his leftist domestic opponents. (Ruthven, p.314-5)
  • 1973 Summer - Gammaat Islamiya (Islamic Assocations) spring to life on Egyptian campuses on the occasion of summer camps training "a skeleton network of cadres." Beginning of work to initiate 'pure Islamic life' among students throughout the Arab world. (Kepel, p.81)
  • 1973 Oct. 6-28 - Yom Kippur War (October War). In a surprise attack on the Jewish day of atonement, Egypt retakes the Suez canal and a narrow zone on the other side. Syria reconquers the Golan Heights. Following massive US and Soviet resupplying of both sides, Israel succeeds in pushing back the Syrians and threatening Damascus. In Sinai, the IDF crosses the Suez Canal and cuts off the Egyptian Third Army. (
  • 1973 Oct. 19-20 - Arab Oil Embargo. A total ban on oil exports to the United States imposed by the Arab oil-producing nations in retaliation for their aid to Israel. (Ban lifted March 16, 1974.) (
  • 1974 - U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, manages to work out military disengagements between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai and between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. (Despite Israel's reversal of initial Arab gains, the war is considered a partial victory, at least for Egypt, because of the unacceptably high Israeli casualties (2,500) and the influence of the oil embargo. Both Syria and Egypt celebrate the anniversary of the war as a victory.) (
  • 1974 April 18 - 11 killed, 27 wounded, when 100 members of the Islamic Liberation Organization storm the armory of the Technical military Academy and seize weapons and vehicles. Part of a plot to kill Pres. Sadat and other top Egyptian officials (attending an official event nearby in the Arab Socialist Building), seize radio and television buildings (also nearby) and announce the birth of the Islamic Republic of Egypt. Security forces intercept conspirators before they are able to leave the school. 95 ILO members are arrested and tried, 32 convicted. Two executed. (Sageman, p.28) Plot organized by Palestinian Salih Sirriya (Kepel, 1985, p.93)
  • 1977 - Gamaat Islamiya (Islamic Assocations) win a majority in the Egyptian Students' Union. (Kepel, p.81) Islamists complete the ousting of Arab nationalist and Leftist from positions of power at Egypt's universities and now completely dominate academic political and social life. (Sageman, p.29)
  • 1977 January - "Bread riots" in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt. 120 buses and hundreds of buildings burned in Cairo alone. Islamist Takfir wa'l Hijra group (officially called Jamaat al-Muslimeen) plays leading part in the sacking of dozens of nightclubs on the famous Pyramids Street. Government caves, reversing earlier decree that allows increases in the cost of basic necessities. Reflects strong dissatisfaction with President al-Sadat's economic liberalization policy. (Roy, p.56) (Weaver, p.25)
  • 1977 July 3 - Former minister Muhammad al-Dhahabi is kidnapped by Shuki Mustafa's group Jamaat al-Muslimeen, who demand the release of 60 of its members from jail, public apologies from the press, the publication of Mustafa's book, 200,000 Egyptian pounds in cash, etc. Government and press do not comply, (Sageman, p.29) instead the press begins publicizing "a long list of offences and crimes attributed to the group." (Kepel, 1986, p.70, 96)
  • 1977 July 7 - al-Dhahabi body is found. (Sageman, p.29) Murder provokes public indignation, (Kepel, 1986, p.97) and sweeping police raids leading to the arrests of 410 of the group's members (most of them). (Ruthven, p.315)
  • 1977 November 19 - President Anwar al-Sadat makes historic visit to Israel. (Chamieh, p.144) His alliance with Islamists against Leftists is thus dissolved. Islamists now become very anti-Sadat. (Sageman, p.29)
  • 1978 March 19 - Shuki Mustafa and four others are executed after being arrested tried and convicted for killing Former minister Muhammad al-Dhahabi. (Sageman, p.29) 23 executed all totaled. (Ruthven p.315)
  • 1979 March 26 - Peace treaty signed by Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin. (Chamieh, p.144)
  • 1981 Spring - Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman agrees to become the mufti of the shura (council) of Egyptian Tanzim al-Jihad. "Promptly" issues a fatwa sanctioning "the robbery and killing of Copts in furtherance of the jihad." (Sageman, p.31)
  • 1981 October 6 - President Anwar Sadat and six diplomats assassinated while observing a military parade commemorating the eighth anniversary of the October 1973 War. Lieutenant Colonel Khalid al Islambuli and two other members of the Tanzim al-Jihad movement, a religious extremist group, fire machine guns and throw grenades into the reviewing stand. (
  • 1981 October 8 - In conjunction with the assassination of Sadat, an insurrection is carried out in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Rebels take control of the city for a few days before paratroopers from Cairo restore government control. 68 policemen and soldiers are killed in the fighting, but most of the militants convicted of fighting serve only three years in prison. (Sageman, p.33, 34)
  • 1986 February - Central Security Forces mutiny, take to the streets, rioting, burning and looting in demand for better pay. Greatest challenge of Mubarak presidency up to that point. "For only the 2nd time in modern Egyptian history, a reluctant Army was dispatched to the streets in order to safeguard the Egyptian presidency." (Weaver, p.68)
  • 1990 October - Islamic Jihad attempts to assassinate Interior Minster Abdel-Halim Moussa. Parliamentary Speaker Rifaat el-Mahgoub killed by mistake. (Sageman, p.33)
  • 1990 - Ayman al-Zawahiri takes over Islamic Jihad, "setting" former leader Abud al-Zumur "aside." (Sageman, p.55)
  • 1992 - 322 persons killed or wounded from terrorist acts in Egypt during the course of the year. (Murphy)
  • 1992 May - massacre of 13 unarmed Christians in village of Manshiet Nasser, "By all accounts the killings ... arose from a dispute between a local Islamic Group leader and Christian residents." (Murphy p.236-7)
  • 1992 June - assassination of Farag Foda, agronomist, author, and politician who recently had launched a new political party called The Future. Foda had written passionate defenses of secularism to rebut Islamists' demands. Foda's machined-gunned to death by masked men on a motorcycle as he left his Cairo office with 15-year-old son. "Islamic Group [Gamaa Islamiya] publicly boasts of killing the 29-year-old secularist, saying he was `an apostate` because he opposed the application of Islamic law." (Murphy p.?)
  • 1992 June or July - Islamic Group tells reporters jihad extends to foreign tourists. Ostensively because of the tourists immodest dress, alcohol consumption, and alleged efforts to contaminate Egyptians with drugs and AIDS. In fact, it is because tourism is the largest source of foreign currency ($3.3 billion) for Egypt. (Murphy p.81) Origin of move is video fatwa by Sheik Omar Abedel Rahman in New Jersey declaring foriegn tourism haram. Though attacks are devistating to economy and Egyptian world image, they also outrage and financially hurt a large number of Egyptians. (Kepel, p.288)
  • 1992 October 21 - British nurse dies when bus attacked near Dairut in southern Egypt. (CNN)
  • 1992 - "Vanguards of Conquest" case. Egyptian Islamic Jihad crippled by "arrest of leader with a computer containing information on all the members in Egypt." More than 800 members are arrested and tried. (Sageman, p.41)
  • 1992 November - Sheikh Gaber of Gamaa Islamiya boasts to Reuters news agency that Embaba shantytown district of Cairo (population 1 million) has "become an Islamic Republic wherein Shariah [is] the prime law." Boast follows 8 years of quasi-rule by the Gamaa which included looting of Coptic shops and torching of Coptic churches to Islamically humble and tax these non-Muslims. (Kepel, p.290-1)
  • 1992 December - 14,000 Egyptian soldiers begin six-week occupation of Embaba, arresting and removing some 5000 people. Despite assertions of Gaber there is no "bloodbath" or widespread resistance to occupation. This apathy and relief is blamed on the violence and criminality of lumpen Gamaa supporters in Embaba. (Kepel, p.290-1)
  • 1993 - 1106 persons killed or wounded from terrorism during the year. "One survey found that in 1993, more cops [120] than terrorists [111] were killed ... Several senior police officials and their bodyguards were shot dead in daylight ambushes. Score of low-ranking policemen were picked off as they left home for work in the morning." (Murphy)
  • 1993 February 26 - Bomb explodes at popular coffee shop on Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square, killing a Swede, a Turk and an Egyptian. Eighteen others are injured, including two Americans. (CNN)
  • 1993 April 20 - unsuccessful assassination attempt on Information Minister Safwat Sharif. attributed to Al-Jihad. Sharif had argued for in favor appeasement in dealing with Islamists. Attack contributes to government decision to take a pure hard line against terrorists.
  • 1993 June - Prominent Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali defends murder of apostates. al-Ghazali takes the stand on behalf of defense in murder trial of Farag Foda. al-Ghazali testifies that a Muslim who opposes adoption of Shari'ah law is guilty of appostacy and should be executed. In the absence of an Islamic state to carry out this sentence those who do carry it out are innocent of any wrong doing. (Kepel, p.287)
  • 1993 August - Interior Minister Hassan Al Alfi badly hurt but not killed by motorcycle suicide bombers from Islamic Jihad. (Murphy)
  • 1993 October 26 - A lone gunman kills two Americans and a Frenchman and wounds three other international residents inside a luxury Cairo hotel and later tells police he was avenging the killing of Muslims in Bosnia. The attacker is sent to a mental institution. (CNN)
  • 1993 November - Prime Minister Atef Sedky survives unsuccessful car bomb assassination attempt by Islamic Jihad which kills schoolgirl bystander. "Within the space of seven months, three cabinet ministers barely escaped death in broad daylight." (Murphy p.83)
  • 1994 March 4 - Machine-gun fire at a Nile cruise ship at Sidfa in southern Egypt wounds a German woman, who later dies. (CNN)
  • 1994 April - Major General Raouf Khayrat assassinated. Khayrat was deputy chief of the SSI (Directorate of State Security Investigations) and oversaw the "SSI's department of Extremist Religious Activities." He's assassinated by Islamic Group operatives as he heads for work, his body "turned into coal" from a firebomb. One car blocks his and opened fire with a machine gun while from the rear two men on a Suzuki motorcycle hurled a firebomb into the back of his Peugeot car.
    "Islamic Group had previously slain three of Khayrat's top aides in ambushes." The rebels had knowledge of Khayrat's routine and route to work "despite his use of an unmarked car." (Murphy p.90-1)

  • 1994 April 25 - small army of camouflaged antiterrorist and special operations police converge on apartment where Islamic Group's master terrorist Hammam is living and shoot him dead. Islamic Group never fully recovers. (Murphy)
  • 1994 August 26 - 13-year-old Spanish boy is killed and three other people are wounded when suspected extremists fire at tourist bus near Nag Hamadi in southern Egypt. (CNN)
  • 1994 September 27 - A German tourist and two Egyptians are killed when suspected extremist opens fire in downtown square in Hurghada, a Red Sea resort city. Second German later dies of wounds. (CNN)
  • 1994 October 23 -- British man is killed and a British woman, two other British men and their driver are wounded when a suspected extremist opens fire on van near Naqada in southern Egypt. (CNN)
  • 1994 October - 82-year-old Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz is stabbed in the neck by Gamaa Islamiya militant. by Gamaa Islamiya militant. The Arab world's only Nobel laureate in literature, Mahfouz survives attack but is unable to write with his hand ever again. (Murphy) The assailant claims to be acting on a fatwa by Shaykh al-Ghazali which had "condemned one of Mahfouz’s earlier novels, considering it `against` Islamic values." ( )
    Two Egyptian Islamic militants were sentenced to death in 1995 for attempting to kill him. (
  • 1995 June - assassination attempt against President Mubarak fails in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Five of the assailants were killed during or after the ambush and three escaped to Sudan, which is widely believed to have sponsored the attack. (Murphy)
  • 1996 April 18 - 17 Greek tourists (14 of them women) murdered outside the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo by Gamaa, which had mistaken them for Israelis, claimed responsibility for the attack in a communiqué entitled `There is no place for Jews in the Muslim land of Egypt.` (Murphy)
  • 1997 July - Disillusioned by unpopularity of their terror campaign and shifting of interest by their comrade jihadis al Qaeda away from Muslim countries and toward foreign targets, the Egyptian Islamic Group "leadership shura in prison announces a unilateral ceasefire in Egypt." (Sageman, p.47)
  • 1997 September 18 - 10 killed, many of them German tourists when attackers throw firebombs and open fire on a tourist bus outside the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo. Police say three international residents and 15 Egyptians are wounded. (CNN)
  • 1997 November 18 - At least 71 people, mostly Swiss tourists are killed when gunmen burst into the courtyard of the Hatshepsut Temple in the desert outside Luxor and fire at tourists who had just disembarked from a bus. (CNN)
    Attack thought to be organized anti-ceasefire faction of Egyptian Islamic Group led by Rifai Taha. Last terrorist activity by the Islamic Group (Sageman, p.47)

  • 2000 January - 21 killed in sectarian rioting, all but one of them Christian. In Al Kosheh, "a predominantly Christian town in southern Egypt, ... when a Muslim customer and a Christian shoe-store owner fell into an impromptu argument, it quickly escalated into three days of Muslim-Christian street fighting. When it was over 20 Christians, including four children and one Muslim were dead." (Murphy p.247) 38 Muslims charged are acquitted of murder in subsequent trial. Four are convicted of lesser charges, the longest sentence imposed being 10 years.

    Third Wave of Terror : 2004-

  • 2004 October 8 - 34 killed and dozens injured when suicide bombers attack Taba and Ras Shitan Red Sea resorts. Two suicide bombers blow up the Taba Hilton killing 32, two more are killed by two bombings at backpacker camping area Ras Shitan 60km to the south. The two Egyptian resorts are near the Israeli border and (were) popular with Israelis. Abdullah Azzam Brigades claims responsibility. ( )
  • 2005 April 7 - Three foreign tourists killed when a suicide bomber set off his explosive device on Sharia al-Moski near the popular Khan al Khalili bazaar in Cairo. Two people from France and one from the United States) are killed, and 18 others including 11 Egyptians are injured. Three weeks later on April 30, more than a dozen tourists and Egyptians are injured (none killed) in two related attacks (a nail bomb and a shooting) by three extremists police say are connected to the April 7 bombing. ( )
  • 2005 July 23 - at least 83 killed and more than 200 injured in a triple bombing in Sharm el-Sheik, a Red Sea resort town. "Egypt's deadliest terror attack ever ... Two car bombs, ... went off simultaneously at 1:15 a.m. a little more than 2 miles apart. A third bomb, ... detonated around the same time near a beachside walkway ... " A group "citing ties to al Qaeda" called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades "claimed responsibility." ( )

  • 2006 April 24 - 23 killed and 85 wounded in a triple bombing in Dahab, a Red Sea resort town. Bombs at two cafes and the Ghazali supermarket killing 20 Egyptians and three foreign tourists coincide with "the Egyptian spring holiday of Shem al-Nessim" and were "a day before what Egypt calls Sinai Liberation Day." Local resident respond with "several small anti-terror protests" the next day. ( and


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