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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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