Ramadan begins with ambush slaughter of Egyptian Christians

NordNordWest | Wikimedia Commons

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, May 26, 2017:

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Friday with the attack of unidentified militants on a bus carrying Egyptian Coptic Christians. At least twenty-six people were killed and many others wounded in the terror attack.

Passengers were en route to St. Samuel the Confessor, a monastery in the city of Minya (located roughly 150 miles south of Cairo), when the gunmen ambushed the bus, according to Egypt’s Al-Masriya. Three SUVs reportedly pulled alongside the bus and sprayed ammunition into the bus. CNN reports that some fifty ambulances are on the scene to deal with the carnage. Egypt’s Al-Ahram reports that there were as many as 40 children on the bus. Church officials fear the death toll is even higher than reported, saying some 35 Copts were killed in the ambush.

Photos of the deadly assault’s aftermath have emerged on social media.

Just three days ago, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo warned about a potential terror threat.

As of now, no group has taken immediate credit for the killings. The murderers reportedly wore masks and were dressed in military uniforms. However, the Islamic State has repeatedly attacked Copts in past months.

In April, ISIS jihadis carried out two major suicide bombings on Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta, Egypt, leaving 46 dead.

In December, ISIS terrorists targeted Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing 29 and injuring 49 more.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has pledged to fiercely combat radical Islam, has called his security cabinet into an emergency meeting, state media reports.

Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population. Minya province, where the attack occurred, has the highest concentration of Copts throughout Egypt. Though their religion and their entry into Egypt predate Islam, Copts are brutally persecuted by the nation’s Islamist groups, which include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State, among others.

Every year, there is a noticeable increase in the number of Islamic terror attacks during the month of Ramadan, when practicing Muslims fast every day from morning to sunset. Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to the religion. Groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda use Ramadan to call for acts of terrorism against Westerners, Jews and Christians, and other non-Islamic groups

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

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Also see:

Former Egyptian Terrorism Official Exposes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Terror Networks (Part 1)

Supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans and raise their hands with a four-fingered anti-government gesture that commemorates the deadly crushing by police of a 2013 Islamist protest camp, in the Faysal district of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only group who have called on its supporters to take to the streets this Monday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Poster reads, “Military rule is a shame and a betrayal.” (AP Photo/Hesham Elkhoshny)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 15, 2017:

On my recent trip to Egypt, I met with Col. Khaled Okasha (ret), one of Egypt’s top former counter-terrorism officials, to discuss the developing security situation and to address a question that has received a lot of international media attention:

Is the Muslim Brotherhood directly engaged in terrorism?

Okasha, the director of the National Center for Security Studies, has literally written the books on the development of militant networks in Egypt. He graciously met with me for five hours upon my arrival in Cairo to discuss these issues.

He later sat down for a three-hour, on-the-record interview on the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks, the transcript of which is presented below.

The night previous to our second meeting, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist groups, Hassm, killed three policemen at a checkpoint in Nasr City:

We met in between two of his international media interviews on the Nasr City incident, and we had limited time as he had a scheduled BBC appearance later that day.

In the first part of this three-part interview, Col. Okasha talks about:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s long-time double game with terrorism
  • The crisis caused by Egypt’s rejection of Muslim Brotherhood rule and the massive June 30, 2013 Tamarod protests
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to provoke a sectarian war by launching attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • And the development of Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks under Guidance Bureau leader Mohamed Kamal and the two-front war targeting Egypt’s military and police forces

I’ve previously reported here at PJ Media on the Muslim Brotherhood attacks on churches in Upper Egypt, and the killing of Mohamed Kamal last October:

In Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Col. Okasha, we will discuss Mohamed Kamal’s terror networks in depth, and also the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in setting up Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which we know today as the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

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Thank you, Mr. Okasha, for meeting with us again today. Could you briefly describe your professional career?

I started beginning in 1987 as special forces in the counter-terrorism unit active around Cairo until the early 1990s in the suburbs of Cairo, including Imbabah, Ain Shams, and Haram where the Gamaa Islamiya were very active back then.

You mentioned earlier about Gamaa Islamiya in the 1990s. Could you talk about your role when you were stationed in Upper Egypt, and what your later role was in Sinai?

After I served in Cairo there, a movement from the Gamaa Islamiya in Upper Egypt, specifically in Assiut and Minya, they were working on two perspectives. One of them was to wage a political war on the regime of Egypt, and the other was to recruit more jihadis to join the Afghanistan war. And that ended with the Luxor massacre in 1997, where I was stationed.

And Sinai?

I served in Sinai from 2008 until 2012, and I quit about six months after Morsi took office. Since then I’ve dedicated my time to research and to publish a lot of material on the jihadis and the militant Islamists.

In the U.S. we hear repeatedly from the media that the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s. Is that really the case?

Back at the time, the Brotherhood had a strategy to play a double game so that they could earn a place in the Arabic community all over the region before they started their armed militias.

That’s why at the beginning the Brotherhood began approaching the syndicates and political parties creating coalitions to push new faces into the political community and to play the card that they are only trying to be a political partner in ruling the country.

But in terms of their overall strategy, violence still remained a component to their activity?

Violence back then was based on the strategy of using other groups — other terrorist groups — to conduct their operations on their behalf.

Especially at this time was the peak of the Arab-Afghan jihadi and mujahideen network. That’s why they could use others to conduct their business.

At the same point, they were introducing themselves to the political and intelligence communities in the Arab world that they are the moderate face of Islamists, and they offered to work with them because they’re the peaceful face. They used the same tactic with the West, especially in the U.S., UK, and Germany, of course.

When we spoke the other day, you mentioned that after the June 30 protests and Morsi’s removal on July 3, and then the clearing of the Rabaa and Nahda protest sites, those events caused a crisis within the Brotherhood. Could you explain that?

At the beginning of the Arab Spring the Brotherhood were working to gain their dominance in the countries that were infected by the Arab Spring. They succeeded in some countries, they failed in others, and they’re suffering in some countries. In Egypt and Tunisia they politically succeeded in securing the Parliament and then the presidential elections.

Egypt is very special when it comes to the Brotherhood, because the Supreme Guide comes from Egypt, and according to their own constitution the Supreme Guide is the highest spiritual guidance for the Brotherhood all over the world. So they worked hard to maintain their power grabs on the establishments in Egypt.

When they were attacked by the people themselves and felt threatened, they were very afraid to lose all that they had been working on over the last two years to secure their power grab. So it was a real disaster for them because Egypt is the place where they started and the place where they had their headquarters.

And as we discussed the other day, the Brotherhood established two different fronts in response to Morsi’s removal that was a divided effort between Upper Egypt and Sinai. Could you start off discussing the role of Mohamed Kamal, who was a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, and his role in establishing the terror networks and cells operating in Upper Egypt?

As a matter of fact Mohamed Kamal was one of the youngest members of the Guidance Bureau, and he originally came from Assiut. He was responsible for memberships, and running the Brotherhood all over the governorates of Egypt. He had very wide connections with the Brotherhood in Assiut, and during the time that the Brotherhood was in power politically he was very careful not to establish any terror cells so that he wouldn’t attract the attention of the security apparatus in Egypt.

So at that time, the Brotherhood worked hard to present themselves to the Egyptian establishment that they are working politically to advance their position with the Gamaa Islamiya and the remnants of Islamic Jihad. They allowed them to establish their own political parties, and these political parties were used as a cover for the militants. At that time the Brotherhood would use the Gamaa and Jihad to conduct their militant operations and keep their hands clean of any terror attacks that were taking place at the time because they were in power politically.

How did Mohamed Kamal structure his terror cells, and what were some of the groups that were under his control?

The terror cells that are blatantly Brotherhood were formed after June 30 by Mohamed Kamal. It was a mix between the Gamaa Islamiya youth that were ready and trained to deal with a crisis like what happened on June 30 for the Islamists, and the other group of people he used were the Muslim Brotherhood youth. Some of those were at Rabaa and Nahda, while others were elsewhere, but they were shocked that they were ejected. They were not equipped, or they couldn’t form any sort of reaction to what happened, so he made his cells between those components, the Gamaa Islamiya and the Brotherhood youth.

He used them throughout 2013 and 2014, and the remnants of them are still active on the streets. Some of the groups were called Ajnad Misr, Helwan militias, Civil Resistance, another group called the Molotov Movement, another called Walaa, and then lately Hassm and Liwa al-Thawra.

Another very important component was the Hazemoon group, led by Hazem Salah Abu-Ismails, who was actually one of those political allies of the Brotherhood. He had a trained and armed group within his political group. The alliance between him and the Brotherhood started from 2011, and he was entrusted with sending the mujahedeen youth to Syria. So after June 30 Kamal used the Hazemoon group with the other two components to train and equip the Brotherhood youth who were not very familiar with the militant activity. That’s why in a matter of weeks you had active and operating terror cells all over Egypt. They were very focused on Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

Two of the other groups we heard a lot about during this period of time was Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance. Were they also part of Mohamed Kamal’s network?

Yes, Popular Resistance is the Civil Resistance I mentioned earlier. Revolutionary Punishment was of course part of the groups I just listed, I just forgot to mention it, but it’s the same MO, it’s the same formation, it’s the same activity, and of course they both belong to the cells that Mohamed Kamal established.

What kinds of activities were these cells involved in?

They had two main targets when they started: security forces and security personnel, and also the armed forces that were stationed to protect public buildings. They conducted more than 25 to 30 successful operations that resulted in casualties, and they conducted more than 50 operations that had no casualties. The other main target was any public service establishment, like power stations, communications towers, railways, and subways. The point was to keep the pressure on, and to let the people know that they will always be under terror attacks, and these operations would go on at least weekly to keep the people in a constant panic mode.

One of the things we saw after August 14, when Rabaa and Nahda were cleared, were the attacks on the churches, particularly in Upper Egypt. What exactly was the strategy for the Brotherhood in the attacks on the churches?

After June 30 the larger strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood was composed of three main points.  Number one was Sinai, and that entails all the terror cells in Sinai, and their main target was to control the cities like Al-Arish and Rafah and establish an Islamic emirate on the borders with Gaza. The second strategy was creating many terrorist cells all over Egypt. That plan failed so they decided to focus on the central cities like Giza and Cairo as I said before. And number three they targeted the Christians, their buildings and business in order to start a sectarian war in Upper Egypt to put the new regime after June 30 in the midst of a sectarian war in Egypt.

But it doesn’t appear that strategy worked?

They were betting that Christians would fight back with arms, and that is what they were hoping would take place to destabilize the new government. But the pope went on television and told the Christians and June 30 supporters to not defend the churches the Brotherhood was attacking, saying that the churches could be rebuilt but not human lives.

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PART TWO

PART THREE

Bedouins Burn ISIS Fighter, Urge All Sinai Tribes to Kick Terrorists to Curb

ISIS fighters in the Sinai in April 2016. (ISIS photo)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, May 2, 2017:

A Bedouin tribe in the Sinai peninsula said it set an ISIS fighter ablaze as a response to a threat from the terror group, and called on all tribes to unite and battle the Islamic State together.

As ISIS has been losing territory in Iraq and Syria, their Sinai chapter has expanded its reach, even establishing a religious police force that has been terrorizing residents who smoke cigarettes or shave. ISIS also threatened residents against cooperating with the army and police.

That, along with ISIS spreading fake news that they had killed 40 members of the al-Tarabeen tribe, drove the Bedouins to snatch an ISIS leader and film their own video of his death, the tribe told Al-Arabiya.

They said the man had killed three Sinai residents and a police and burned their bodies, so the Bedouins set him on fire. That’s employing the Islamic principle of qisas, killing a killer in the manner by which the victim was murdered. ISIS tried to use the same reasoning when they burned a Jordanian pilot in a cage in a shocking 2015 video.

In the Bedouins’ short video, which appears to be cell phone footage, the suspected ISIS member, his hands and feet bound, is seen with his upper body on fire off the side of a road as members of the tribe yell at him. One appears to spray an accelerant on him.

The al-Tarabeen said in a statement they would fight ISIS “bravely and courageously as the sons of the tribe do not fear the battles.”

“It is time to get together to face ISIS, which did not have mercy on the elderly or young, and filled the earth with corruption and destruction,” they said in a call for the tribes to unite.

“To anyone who supports ISIS by word, action or by monitoring, he has to surrender himself immediately,” they added.

Also see:

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s Long Road to Islamic Reform

Egyptian Leader Al-Sisi.

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, April 20, 2017:

“There has been a lot of positive symbolism” from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi regarding Islamic reform but little action, stated former American Ambassador Alberto Fernandez on April 3 in Washington, DC.  He and his fellow Hudson Institute panelists examined the enormous difficulties confronting any reform of the doctrines underlying various jihadist agendas even as America’s new President Donald Trump prioritizes counterterrorism.

Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea opened the panel before a lecture room filled with about 70 listeners by noting the Sisi-Trump White House meeting at that very moment.  Shea observed that America’s important ally Egypt is the most populous Arab country (94 million people) with a quarter of all Arab speakers in the world.  Egypt also has the Middle East’s largest Christian community, the Copts, accounting for an estimated ten percent of Egypt’s population, more than all the Jews in Israel.

Addressing Trump’s meeting with Sisi, Fernandez stated that the “number one issue in for this administration in this regard is obviously writ large the counterterrorism issue,” particularly concerning defeating the Islamic State.  He emphasized the necessity “to find creative, smart, aggressive ways to challenge the appeal of the default ideology in the Middle East today,” namely “some type of Islamism.”  Such ideologies had a long history, as in the 1970s “Egypt was the proving ground for all of this stuff that we saw with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State” involving atrocities against Mesopotamia’s Christians and other minorities.  He recalled visiting Egypt as a young diplomat for the first time in 1984 and seeing policemen guarding every Christian church and cemetery, an indication of this community’s peril.

Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros, himself a Copt, stated that “there is no doubt that the Islamist message is appealing in Egypt” and reprised his previous analysis of Islamism.  “Islamism seeks to create a state that connects heaven and earth,” an ideology that is still credible in the public imagination and has no viable contenders in the marketplace of ideas.  Despite repeated failures to create this idealized state by groups like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, the “basic premises of Islamism make sense for an average Egyptian.”

Fernandez and Tadros accordingly dashed any high hopes raised by Sisi’s 2015 New Year’s Day address on Islamic reform to Al Azhar University in Cairo, often considered Sunni Islam’s preeminent theological authority.  Tadros stated that the speech “was general, it was unprepared” while Fernandez noted that “Sisi kind of put out a very enticing marker but there is a lot of work that has to happen which hasn’t even begun yet.”  Although globally the “speech that Sisi gave was very well received,” the follow-on reminded Fernandez of the Arab proverb “she was pregnant with a mountain but gave birth to a mouse.”

While “there is a tremendous amount of space for Islamist extremism in Egypt still” as the 2015 blasphemy conviction of an Egyptian talk show host showed, Fernandez remained unimpressed with Sisi’s Islamic reform advocacy.

There has been a nibbling around the edges.  But you cannot say that the Egyptian government has done something which would be truly revolutionary, that has never happened in the Arab world, which is to have a government on the level of ideology, on the level of textbooks, on the level of the religious establishment really embrace a kind of liberal reinterpretation of problematic texts and concepts that are used by Salafi-jihadists and by Islamists.

“While Washington has welcomed this talk a lot, there are actually a lot of limits to what Sisi can offer in this regard,” Tadros warned.  Sisi “would like to see a reform of the religious discourse, but he has no plan, plus he has to deal with the reality of Al Azhar” as his appeals to reform easy divorce laws had shown.  The “answer from Al Azhar was a very clear public humiliation of the president….This is not debatable, this is the religion as it is; basically don’t talk about these issues.”

Given Sisi’s societal circumstances, Fernandez noted that “even the weak tea that we see with that symbolism actually provokes a reaction” from Islamists like an Islamic State video attacking Sisi as a “slave of the cross.”  Fernandez and Tadros likewise discussed rampant antisemitism permeating Egyptian society as exemplified by Fernandez’s last visit to Egypt three years ago.  The bookstore of the five-star Intercontinental Semiramis Hotel where he was staying had an entire shelf of anti-Semitic literature including the Jew-hatred staple, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and books featuring vampires with Stars of David.

Such intellectual poison is unsurprising given Tadros’ assessment that the “Egyptian educational system remains a disaster; it simply teaches nothing about the outside world.”  A Christian Egyptian friend astounded him once when she related the inquiry of her fellow journalist about where her fiancée would spend his wedding night.  On the basis of the movie Braveheart, the inquiring journalist had obtained the bizarre belief that Coptic women spend their first night of marriage having sex with a Coptic priest.

For Tadros, the journalist’s pitiful ignorance about Copts is no anomaly, even though they are the indigenous people of an Egypt Islamicized after a seventh century Arab conquest.  Among Egyptian Muslims there is an “absence of any actual information about people that they have shared 14 centuries of living together.”  This allows “all these superstitions, these conspiracy theorists, this propaganda by Islamists to fill that vacuum.”

The only bright spot in the panel appeared in Tadros’ estimation most Egyptians considered Sisi, who came to power in a 2013 military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the only current acceptable political alternative.  “There are huge human rights abuses in the country, but it is also a very popular regime.  I have no doubt that even in free and fair elections President Sisi would win.”  He represents a “certain rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood, a demand for a return to normalcy, to stability.”

Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

Father Samir: Egypt’s Palm Sunday Terror Reflects a Sickness Within Islam

The Egyptian priest, who is an authority on Islam, discusses the factors driving the murderous attacks on Christians and what he hopes the Pope will say when he visits Egypt this month.

National Catholic Register, by Edward Pentin, April 13, 2017: (h/t Christopher Holton)

VATICAN CITY — Oil money, Wahhabi extremism and an Islam unwilling to reform itself are the principal reasons for the terrorist attacks on two Egyptian churches on Palm Sunday and the rise of Islamism over the past 100 years.

This is according to Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, professor of Islamic studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, who says it is false when people say such attacks have nothing to do with Islam. “ISIS is not doing anything which is neither in the Quran nor in the Mohammedan tradition,” he says.

In this April 10 interview with the Register, Father Samir — who is Egyptian himself — discusses the main motivations behind Islamic violence, why it’s important to say exactly how things are within Islam and help reform it, and his hopes for Pope Francis’ April 28-29 visit to Egypt.

What are the primary causes of these attacks? What’s behind them? Is it primarily to do with Islam, politics or something else?

For a year or more, the Muslim Brotherhood were attacking regularly during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi (2012-2013); they were attacking Christians, for any reason. For instance, they alleged a Christian who was building a house for his two children was in fact not building a house, but a church, so they are trying to make problems for the Christians. This happens regularly, but it became much more intense.

Now this time, what we hear from Egypt is that ISIS is saying they are behind these attacks, but there’s also support from the Muslim Brotherhood because they were ejected from the political system. The feeling is that the attacks against Christians in Egypt are becoming more frequent and violent. This has never happened before, that they attack so many churches and precisely on such a great Christian feast. The last ones took place before Christmas, and now these two attacks during Holy Week. The intent is probably to attack the president indirectly, through the Christians, to say he’s not able to govern or control the situation. In north Sinai, they attacked Christians and so the government moved them. Now they’ve come back under the protection of the army. In the past month, we’ve had three big attacks, and four months ago we had the attack near the Coptic cathedral.

Is attacking Christians, therefore, really about attracting negative attention against the government more than it is against Christians per se?

It’s both because they attack Christians without reason, in different situations — this year, last year and so on. Christians and Jews are their enemies, but there are no more Jews in Egypt. Christians are 10% of the population, 9 million people. So this Islamic movement, for six years now, has simply wanted to create a new caliphate, by all means possible, because there’s a great crisis within the Islamic world, and the crisis is turning into violence.

What is precipitating this crisis?

In Islam they are not prepared nor able to renew themselves, as [Egypt’s] President [Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil] el-Sisi said in December 2014 when he took power. He spoke to Al-Azhar University and gave a beautiful speech, in which he said we need to make a revolution in Islam, to rethink the whole system. The scholars all applauded, said, “Yes, Yes,” but they haven’t changed anything in the teaching. Many intellectuals on Egyptian television came and developed this argument and said Al-Azhar is unable to make the reform we need. Nothing has changed.

Are you of the view that Islamism is the true Islam?

ISIS is the application of what is taught. It’s not outside Islam, or something invented. No, they are applying Islam. When we hear it has nothing to do with Islam — that it means salaam; that it means peace — this is all false. It’s not true. ISIS is not doing anything which is neither in the Quran nor in the Mohammedan tradition. Everything is taken after a decision taken by an imam. A mufti and imam will say this is or is not allowed.

This isn’t just a problem in Egypt, but Egypt represents the greatest and strongest country, and also where you have the most important school of Islamic learning — just as we have Rome for the Catholic Church, Islam has Al-Azhar University.

Given this fact, what do you think about the Pope’s visit to Cairo? Should he say this hard truth about Islam, but in a diplomatic way?

Yes. He should certainly be very diplomatic. He wants to be more than diplomatic, to foster good relations with them, this is sure. He is avoiding hard words. He never said Islam is also a religion of violence — he said the opposite. He said there’s no violence in religion and so on, because this is his aim: to help Muslims, who are the second-most important group in the world, to have a dialogue and understanding.

Is that an acceptable way of approaching the issue, in your view?

Well, it’s not my way. I think it’s important to say things with charity, with friendship, but to say things as they are: that it cannot continue like this; we have to rethink Islam. This is my vision. They cannot take the texts of the seventh century literally as they are in the Quran. He [the Pope] does not dare to say something like that because he doesn’t know the Quran well enough, and so on. So I understand his position, but it would be better to have a clearer and more frank discussion — with openness, but also with some realism.

The Pope called for the hearts of the terrorists to be converted and for the conversion of the hearts of those who traffic weapons. Is that a fair point, or is that not going to the root cause?

Certainly, in Egypt everyone says the whole structure of ISIS is something elaborated by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Wahhabi countries, against the Shia. It’s also my opinion. What does ISIS mean? It’s “Islamic State for Iraq and Syria.” This is the name they have chosen, taken from the Arabic Daesh, which means exactly that.

Now why Iraq and Syria? Because in Iraq we have a Shia government after the death of Saddam Hussein. The U.S.A. organized the country like that; they said the Shia are a small majority so the government should be led by Shia, with Sunni. In Syria the government is Alawite, which is a branch of Shia, although they are at most 15% of the population. This has been the case for 50 years now, with the father, Hafez al-Assad, and now his son, Bashar al-Assad. So the Sunni — who are 70%-75% — organized the protest against the government because they want to take power.

The question is religious, too, and supported by the rich countries of Arabia. And the rich buy the weapons from the U.S. principally, but also England, France, Italy and Germany to a smaller degree. So there is in fact an international war going on, but it is not clear. It seems to be they’re using this revolutionary Islamic State, which was partly formed by the U.S., from Iraq, after the occupation of Iraq, after the death of Saddam Hussein, because the U.S. formed a group of well-trained military. The so-called caliph, Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, was one of these people trained by the U.S.

So all the conditions were there, but no one was thinking it would be so savage, that it would be absolutely inhuman. They killed and tortured people; they took women and people as slaves and turned children into bombs.

This was unprecedented?

We had never seen something like that, so the reaction of official Islam is that this has nothing to do with Islam, but this is in fact a lie. It has 100% to do with Islam, with chosen texts from the Quran and sharia [Islamic law]. They’re not doing anything against Islamic law.

How much is Islamism primarily due to Islam rather than, perhaps, Arab culture? Why, for instance, does Islamism appear much less prominent in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, than in the Middle East? 

Everything comes from the Middle East in Islam, this is sure, but, unfortunately, even in Indonesia, where there are 220 million people, they are now no longer as they were 15 years ago. There was a Protestant who was elected to parliament, and they wanted to put him in prison simply because he said something against Muhammad. This was once unthinkable in Indonesia.

Then you have Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are much worse than what we see in the Arab world. The propaganda coming from the Wahhabi countries is organized to go everywhere — to Asia and Africa. You have Boko Haram [in Nigeria] and others in Sudan. This is the general movement of this Wahhabi thinking and for the imams. It’s organized by Al-Azhar, whether they want it to be or not.

Do you think Al-Azhar is also partly responsible for Islamism?

I don’t think Al-Azhar has wanted to create something like that, but the teaching they are giving, as a consequence, is a radical Islam. President el-Sisi some weeks ago proposed that, from now on, a man is not allowed to say to his wife: “You are repudiated” (I divorce you). The repudiation by words, as it is practiced today, means you just had to say three times you are repudiated in the presence of two Muslim men. He said no, from now on, all should go through a tribunal, but Al-Azhar refused with the argument that this was already in force in the time of Muhammad and we cannot touch it.

So the conflict is within Islam, and the solution is within Islam. We have to reform Islam and our understanding of Islam.

Why is it that 50-60 years ago, there wasn’t this level of violence?

Through the influence of the Wahhabi. And how did this influence come? Through oil, through money. The heart of the matter is that they buy the conscience of the people. Al-Azhar is partly financed by the Wahhabi, and all the mosques they’re building, the big mosque in Rome, is funded by the Wahhabi. They put in the imam, they pay and command what to do, and so they’re creating thousands of schools for boys and girls throughout the world, everywhere, also in China. In the Islamic part of China, the Chinese government is reacting very strongly and bringing non-Muslims to this part of the country just to change the mentality. So the question is the money.

Could it, therefore, possibly be argued that it’s more to do with the money — that it is money that is perverting Islam?

Friends from Lebanon now living in Paris said they’d had enough of this Bedouin religion — by that, they meant from Arabia. They said, “We are not Bedouins, and this is not our Islam.” That’s the point: There is a conjunction between people who are very radical because they adopted, at the end of 19th century, the most radical vision of Islam, and you cannot discuss anything.

In the Middle Ages, you had discussions: The fact that the Quran is divine — this was not the teaching of the first five centuries of Islam, but there was a discussion, with part saying it was divine and another that it was human, that it is created and uncreated. The discussion went on until the 11th and 12th century, and only then it became uncreated, divine. And being divine means that every word and comma is divine, and this is what people think today — the official Islam is saying that. That means that if I find a verse — “Kill them wherever you find them” — for instance, then you have to do it. And for Christians and Jews, it’s clear they have to pay the jizya and be humiliated, says the Quran. So they say: “They can live with us, but they first have to pay and, second, to be humiliated.” This is impossible today, so what they do is attack Christians, and nobody is protesting seriously.

How are Christians currently being discriminated against in Egypt?

There’s no jizya, but you cannot have an important post in the government, not like it was until the 1960s. We didn’t have a president, but a king, until 1954, and Christians had very important positions. Egyptian radio recently broadcast a magnificent program showing that the best schools for more than a century were the Christian schools, the ecclesiastical schools, as they say in Arabic, run by the Jesuits, the Anglicans, and so on. They formed all the best people of the state, and this is true. Until today we had in our Jesuit school in Cairo at least 40% Muslims. It was another atmosphere. Christians had a very important part to play in the 19th century, what we called our renaissance in Egypt, and it was achieved through the Christians. You cannot have that now, because they don’t give them their rightful place.

How bad is daily life now for Christians compared to 20-30 years ago, and why has it gotten worse?

Because of this Wahhabi movement, the Salafists also, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It was under control in the time of Nasser and also after that, but not in the time of [Anwar] Sadat. Now they have come back, and especially with the financing of Saudi Arabia, we had the Wahhabi tendency in universities and daily life. For instance, a few years ago, during Ramadan and other periods, they started forbidding beer. It was produced in Upper Egypt, but now it’s forbidden. So they are corrupting people with their money and ideology.

Much has to do with the oil money of the past 100 years.

Yes, and maybe change will come now, because the oil price is going down, and there is a conference now with the advent of fracking [fracking is negatively affecting the price of oil]. The question is the financing. Saudi Arabia is now using up its financial reserves, and the economy is now worsening.

Should we expect Islamism to worsen?

What we expect is that the situation will be more open-minded. This is what we want, not to be against Islam, but for it, for open-mindedness. We, as Christians, have to help Muslims and say: “Look, we’ve been through something similar in other centuries.” We have a mission to work together, to find a way to come out from this. Note that, at the moment, the government says there’s only 40% literacy, but certainly it’s higher. This is Egypt in the 21st century. The education of the 60% is also almost zero.

What are your hopes for the Pope’s visit?

The visit will certainly be positive. He is supposed to speak first with President el-Sisi, which is very important, as he’s open-minded, and he wants to build a modern state and not a religious state. Then he [the Pope] will visit Al-Azhar, which is also very important, and also the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the great Church in Egypt, with 9 million people and with an open-minded patriarch. So this is important. The second day will be for the Catholic Church, which will also involve positive decisions and orientations.

Also see:

GABRIEL: The Muslim Brotherhood: Know Thy Enemy

AFP

Breitbart, by Brigitte Gabriel, April 17, 2017:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s recent visit to the White House was of paramount importance to combatting radical Islamic terrorism.

As evidenced by the recent Palm Sunday church bombings by radical Islamists, Egypt finds itself on the front lines in the battle against Islamic radicalism, and more specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood that started an Islamic revolution in 2011, which created a domino effect, extending into Syria and across the globe.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, empowered by the revolution in Egypt, rose to establish an Islamic order in Syria, attempting to eliminate Assad, as their counterpart did to Mubarak in Egypt.

Assad’s loyal ally Russia came to his defense, while our shameful government under President Barack Obama threw Mubarak under the bus.

After President Obama disgracefully endorsed Mohamed Morsi, the MB leader during the Egyptian uprising of 2011, he went even further to destroying an ally in the fight against Islamic extremism when he blocked billions in aid to Egypt after El-Sisi rightfully deposed Morsi in 2014.

Time and time again, our former President stood shoulder to shoulder with Islamic radicals and threw our allies who stood with us in our fight against terrorism under the bus.

Today, President Donald Trump must make it clear to foreign leaders that there is a new sheriff in town, and we will not tolerate those who engage in, or support, Islamic terrorism.

El-Sisi understands the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the threat it poses to both Egypt and the United States.

It was the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Anwar Sadat, the former Egyptian president who signed a peace treaty with Israel.

They killed him in cold blood because he was a peacemaker.

Osama Bin Laden, 9/11 ringleader Muhammad Atta, the head of Al-Qaeda Ayman al- Zawahiri, and Islamic State head Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi were all members of the Brotherhood.

The two most powerful countries in the Middle East – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – have designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Egypt is the largest Islamic country in the Middle East, with 80 million Muslim, and the most powerful Arabic army.

Saudi Arabia is the most revered Islamic country in the world, not only because of its religious significance, being the home of Islamic Prophet Mohammed, but also because it is a global oil player.

They both understand the existential threat the Brotherhood pose. Yet disgracefully, our government still has not designated this organization as the terrorist entity that it is. A refusal to designate the MB as a terrorist organization leaves us fighting the war on terror with not only an arm tied behind our backs, but blindfolded.

This would be like trying to combat fascism in the 1930’s without naming the Nazis as a target.

How frustrating it must be for allies in the middle east like El-Sisi, whose country has been plagued by the Brotherhood for almost a century, to see such reluctance on the part of the United States to properly identify our enemies.

It is critical for both restoring relations with those willing to fight this enemy with us, that we stop wasting time, and call a spade a spade.

There is simply too much at stake with the Brotherhood running wild.

What makes the Brotherhood particularly dangerous is that, in addition to being the most influential Islamic terrorist organization, it is also the most educated.

Bin Laden was an engineer, and al-Zawahiri a Surgeon, Al-Baghdadi is a Doctor of Philosophy. So we are not dealing with your average rent a jihadist when it comes to the Brotherhood.

In 1982, the Brotherhood wrote a 100-year plan for radical Islam to infiltrate and dominate the West, and establish an Islamic government on the earth. In counter-terrorism circles, it became known as “The Project.” This outlines in crystal clarity, Brotherhood intentions to destroy America from within. They endeavor to do this by infiltrating the media, government, and educational system.

The Brotherhood have already established successful front groups within the U.S, posing as moderate Islamic advocacy groups, such as CAIR and ISNA. This has allowed them access to our elected officials such as President Obama and his cabinet. Consequently, they have influenced public policies that left us vulnerable.

Now is the time to reverse the damage done under Obama’s administration.

The enemy is no longer at our doorstep, but in our house.

We must heed the guidance of President El- Sisi and other middle eastern allies, and designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization once and for all. Every day that passes without such a designation, the tentacles of Islamic terror wrap tighter around us. President Trump, the time is now. For the sake of our country, and protection of Western civilization, please designate this organization as the mothership of jihad that it is.

Brigitte Gabriel is a terrorism analyst and a two times New York Times best-selling author of “Because They Hate” and “They Must Be Stopped”. She is the Founder and Chairman of ACT for America, the nation’s largest grassroots organization devoted to promoting national security and defeating terrorism.

Gad Saad interviews Cynthia Farahat

Published on April 14, 2017 by Gad Saad

Topics covered include living as a Copt in Egypt, Egyptian politics, the Muslim Brotherhood, Barack Obama’s Islamophilia, Islamic reformation and immigration, Canada’s M103 motion to combat “Islamophobia,” and the regressive mindset, among other topics.

Note: Apologies for the few seconds when the connection froze during the taping of our chat. I did not edit out those few seconds as I could not remember where this occurred exactly.

Cynthia’s website: http://cynthiafarahat.com

Cynthia’s Twitter account: @cynthia_farahat