Brother of alleged Egypt church attacker denies his death, says he's in Syria

Shounaz Meky - Al Arabiya English
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The brother of Abu al-Baraa al-Masri, the alleged suicide bomber who targeted the church in Alexandria, claimed his sibling is alive and in Syria.

Speaking to a popular Egyptian talk show on Monday night, Mohamed Ragab, defended his brother, saying he was not behind the church attack on Sunday. He said he had traveled to Syria in 2013, and had not return to Egypt since then.

Egyptian authorities on Monday announced the names of two suicide bombers in which it said were behind the blasts that targeted two churches in Egypt this week.

Abu al-Baraa al-Masri is suspected to be the suicide bomber who attacked the church in Alexandria.

Born on December 13, 1974, in the town of Abu Tabel in Kafr El Sheikh, al-Masri worked as a driver for several companies, and traveled to Libya more than once. He also worked in Lebanon, through which he entered Syria, leaving behind his wife and three children in Egypt.

Ragab appeared on a talk show with presenter Amr Adib, telling him al-Masri was “deceived into joining extremist groups fighting in Syria” in 2013, and had not returned to Egypt since then, “out of fear of being persecuted by Egyptian intelligence.”

“That’s not my brother who’s in the picture, and if it was him, I would have said so, because my brother is still alive in Syria,” Ragab told the presenter.

“My brother contacted his wife a day before the attack to ask about his children,” he claimed.

“[Al-Masri] was among many who traveled to join the fight in Syria during the era of [President] Mohammed Morsi,” Ragab explained.

Ragab also pleaded with the Egyptian authorities to forgive his brother, who he said wanted to return, adding that he “regrets going to Syria.”

IN ARABIC: Mohamed Ragab defends his brother

Ragab was reportedly questioned by authorities at a previous time over his brother being in Syria, he said, adding that he had not been interrogated until now due to his brother's alleged involvement in Sunday's church attack.

A journalist at Al-Watan newspaper, who interviewed Ragab and the suspect's family, also appeared on the show to comment on a report she had written tilted: "an interview with the family of the Alexandria church attacker."

The journalist said her report does not confirm that the suspect is behind the church attack, adding that the family showed “no signs” of belonging to “extremist groups”.

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