News / Middle East

Egypt's 'War on Terror' May Be Creating More Violence

Egypt's 'War on Terror' May Be Creating More Violencei
X
February 13, 2014 7:43 PM
The jihadis of Egypt's Ansar Beit al Maqdis have been called the world's most frustrated terrorists. Time after time, the Sinai-based militants have claimed responsibility for attacks, only to have Egypt's government blame the Muslim Brotherhood. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.
Elizabeth Arrott
The jihadis of Egypt's Ansar Beit al Maqdis have been called the world's most frustrated terrorists.  Time after time, the Sinai-based militants have claimed responsibility for attacks, only to have Egypt's government blame the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi last year and the crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's military-backed interim government has been waging a war on terror, and it has been anything but precise.

The military has stepped up operations in Sinai. Jihadists have been targeted and killed. Thousands of Muslim Brothers are in prison.

Jailed, too, are students who took part in unauthorized protests, along with journalists who met with Brotherhood members. Even a journalist who met with a journalist who met with MB members is implicated in a terror plot.  They are joined by academics, secular activists and an untold number of others caught up in the campaign.

All of which can obscure the fact there are, by any classic definition, bona fide terrorists on Egyptian soil.

ABM

Al-Qaida-inspired Ansar Beit al Maqdis, or Supporters of Jerusalem, was formed in 2011, in the security breakdown that followed the Arab Spring.  It has launched missiles into Israel, but it saves its special wrath for Egypt's security forces.

ABM stepped up attacks after Morsi's fall, claiming hundreds of lives, from fresh-faced conscripts patrolling the largely lawless Sinai Peninsula, to military officers gunned down in the capital.   

The jihadists appear to have easy access to arms that have been washing over the region from the unsecured caches of Libya, including material that unleashed a wave of bombings in Cairo January 24.  

Security analysts say an even more worrying trend is the use of sophisticated missile delivery systems not known to be in Libya, one of which took down a military helicopter last month. Its origin has baffled experts, with Jane's Defence Weekly noting similarities not just to advanced Russian weaponry, but to models made in Iran and China.

Allegations

Egypt's government says ABM and the Muslim Brotherhood are closely allied, branding the MB a terrorist group after a deadly bombing in Mansoura in December, an attack claimed by ABM.  Egypt's media has served as an echo chamber of this official line.

An Egyptian man makes his way through rubble at the scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, Egypt, Dec. 24, 2013.An Egyptian man makes his way through rubble at the scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, Egypt, Dec. 24, 2013.
x
An Egyptian man makes his way through rubble at the scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, Egypt, Dec. 24, 2013.
An Egyptian man makes his way through rubble at the scene of an explosion at a police headquarters building in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, Egypt, Dec. 24, 2013.
Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, notes the government's conflation of the two groups comes with “zero information, evidence, whatever you want to call it, to support their contention,” adding, “that's a very, very sort of risky path to be going down.”

Much of the argument is circumstantial. The Brotherhood publicly renounced violence decades ago, and has condemned ABM attacks.  But security analysts say Morsi's actions during his year in power are damning, from the amnesty granted jailed terrorists to allowing jihadists to enter the country.

Brotherhood figures, from their protest camps after Morsi's ouster, repeatedly warned of attacks from Sinai if Egypt's first freely-elected president weren't reinstated.  And those attacks came.  

Retired intelligence officer Sameh Seif al Yazal argues that Morsi gave jihadis free rein in Sinai “because they convinced him that they will be his second line of defense if anything happens to him or the Muslim Brotherhood.”
 
Funding

Islamic Jihad founder Nabil Naeem has outlined to Egyptian media a scenario that purportedly has the Brotherhood funding ABM under a deal with MB-offshoot Hamas, currently governing the Palestinian territory of Gaza.  Tunnels between Egypt and Gaza have been a conduit for illegal arms and Sinai-based jihadis for years.   

Seif al Yazal says the Muslim Brotherhood International and “some Arab countries” also contribute to ABM's funding.  Asked if he means Qatar, reviled by many in Egypt as a major backer of the Brotherhood, he replied “I prefer not to really point to an Arab country but people, they believe so.”

Neither ABM nor the MB, of course, offer financial reports, and the Egyptian government's vaguely-worded accusations against both leave any ties murky.   

Wide net

Muddying the waters further is the government's campaign that lumps helicopter-downing jihadis with school-aged protesters.  

Leftist political activist Wael Khalil says this “is part of the tough time we are living in is trying to separate between the two issues.”  

"I don't think anyone is against the government, the military, the police, standing against terrorism," he said. "No one really is supporting terrorism, even the Brotherhood for that matter.  They are soft on some of their allies inciting violence in one way, but this is a different story.”

He argues that the government's widely cast net leaves terrorists at large, while possibly creating more.  "If your only answer is shooting at demonstrations and arresting people indiscriminately,” he said, “then actually you are recruiting for terrorism.”

It's a problem that Human Rights Watch's Joe Stork says is not unique to Egypt.  But in Egypt now, he adds, “we have seen it on a really scary scale.”

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bassam Haled from: Egypt
February 14, 2014 1:38 AM
only a liberal idiot could have come up with a headline that says "Egypt's 'War on Terror' May Be Creating More Violence..." so, whats your solution...?? let the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist take over Egypt??? it simply is not going to happen - and you should be grateful to Sissi... MB Terrorists must be confronted and defeated..!! hey America, read what the Egyptian MB is saying about you and Israel and "western" democratic states - IN ARABIC..!!!
In Response

by: Abel Ogah from: OJU Nigeria
February 17, 2014 11:33 AM
This is frank talk from a true nationalist. Egypt must be liberated.

by: PermReader
February 13, 2014 12:34 PM
Don`t believe that brothers once killed Egyptian president and didn`t emproved.They did! Though their aims are not different from Al Kaeda and other jihadists their means are noble.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More