Four car bombs exploded July 22 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and nearby Naama Bay hotels. Egyptian police report that one car bomb exploded at Sharm el-Sheikh bazaar while three other car bombs exploded — at a tourist bazaar, the Ghazala Hotel and the Moevenpick Hotel — in Naama Bay. There has been a lull in significant, high-casualty attacks since the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid. The July 7 London bombings and the July 22 resort bombings in Egypt indicate al Qaeda is giving all it can to retain its relevance in jihadist circles by hitting as hard as it can wherever it holds assets. The lower-skill level of the London attacks indicates that al Qaeda has shifted its strategy to one of geopolitical survival now that al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden could be facing his imminent capture in Pakistan. This challenges our previous understanding that al Qaeda is operating on a cycle of strategic major attacks occurring roughly every 18 months.
The nature of the attacks suggests that minimal protective security countermeasures were in place, such as basic vehicle-borne improvised explosive device screening. In light of the recent attacks in London, and previous bombings at Egyptian resorts, certain Western hotel chains have implemented such security measures in places such as Egypt; Amman, Jordan; and Jakarta, Indonesia. This global campaign is bolstered by the crackdowns caused by each attack — whether big or small — that incite a backlash within Islamist circles. And though the previous conception was that there would be no al Qaeda-inspired attacks in U.S. territory unless such an attack could rival 9/11, this may no longer be the case now that al Qaeda is engaged in a last-ditch effort to prove itself to its supporters in the jihadist world.
A global offensive led by al Qaeda is now in motion. Thus far, the July 22 bombings in Egypt, the July 7 bombings in London and the ill-attempted July 21 attacks show that al Qaeda is fighting back after an extensive period of dormancy. Although the July 22 car bombing in Beirut and the July 12 suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel, likely stem from local political motives, large-scale attacks in the region have passed the point of coincidence. Jihadists worldwide are riding a wave of inspiration to strike back with whatever assets they have at their disposal. We do not expect the July 22 attacks to be the end of this jihadist campaign. We can expect to see attacks coming in places such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, European states (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Denmark), and even in the United States, where al Qaeda might be willing to accept small-scale attacks.