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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid