The affair of Camilia Shehata, a Egyptian Christian woman allegedly being held against her will by the Church after converting to Islam, is at the center of a series of threats and attacks by jihadis during the Christmas season. MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor noted calls to violence and an upsurge in killings directed at Christian minorities in the Middle East, such as the Copts and Iraqi churches, and Christians in the West.
Participants on jihadist forums outlined attacks against the West. Yaman Mukhadab of Shumukh Al-Islam forum, advised Muslims to strike America's "soft-belly" during the holiday by sabotaging the electrical grid through hacking attacks into their SCADA [Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition] systems through the Internet. Another idea was to flood the security services with false threats to create confusion. On the same blog, "Ayman 435" posted a manual for making homemade bombs and outlined a target list of Coptic churches in the United States, Australia, and Europe.
Syrian iihadi cleric Abu Baseer [Basir] at-Tartousi called on Muslims to "break down the doors of the churches and search them one by one – even if this means you must trample the course of the [Coptic Patriarch,] the wicked Shenouda… and of the other wicked bishops and priests the abductors of women. This is no crime, Allah willing, but a religious duty." Mauritanian cleric Abu Al-Mindhir Al-Shinqiti stated: "In principle, the killing of those [Egyptian] Christians…is permissible…," while Gazan sheikh Abu Walid Al-Maqdisi, head of the Jama'at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad organization, stated that Christians living in Islamic countries no longer enjoy dhimmi status, i.e., are not entitled to protection and are legitimate targets.
In Egypt, the Global Jihad Media Front issued its 37th edition of its e-journal Sawt Al-Jihad, mostly dedicated to the affair. In one article, author Abu Abdullah Anis portrayed Copts as agents planted in the heart of the Muslim world by the global Crusade, who were controlling Egypt's politics, economy, and cultural life. The article also accused Copts of collaborating with Israel and with a future U.S. attempt to invade Egypt.
Al-Qaida-affiliated organizations responded to the calls for violence. The Islamic State of Iraq, an organization known for carryout large suicide bombings, attacked the Our Lady of the Salvation Church in Baghdad, killing 52 people and injuring dozens. The group released a statement afterwards, which described the Baghdad church as "a corrupt den of polytheism" that has "long been used by the Christians of Iraq as a headquarters for the battle against Islam." The group issued an ultimatum to the Coptic church in Egypt, giving it 48 hours to release Shehata, otherwise the Egyptian Christians and their religious facilities and organizations would become legitimate targets for the mujahideen. The Islamic State of Iraq has also been implicated in a plot to bomb Western targets during the Christmas season, one which may have begun with Sweden's first suicide bombing on December 11th.
Other jihadist leaders also legitimized the attack, including Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad's leader, Sheikh Nasser Al-Din Al-Baghdadi, who ruled that Christians were legitimate targets because of their "war on Islam and Muslims."