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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

update Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid