Why is the State Dept Undermining President Trump’s Egypt Policy?

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Aug. 23, 2017:

President Trump has been very clear that he wants to pivot away from Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And the Arab Spring’s whole democratization program.

Senator McCain has been equally clear that he wants to double down on it.

Guess whom the State Department is listening to?

Egypt passed a law restricting foreign funding of NGOs. Egypt joins a number of countries, including Hungary, Poland and Israel, that are working to curb the influence of the Leftist/Islamist network which operates internationally through non-profit NGOs. Each such effort has led to hysteria and angry threats from the political figures associated with those networks.

Now the State Department is taking action against Egypt over the NGO law.

Officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to withhold $65.7 million in military assistance and $30 million in economic aid to Egypt that has been on hold since fiscal 2014, the officials said. That money will be reprogrammed, meaning it will now be sent to other countries, they said.

At the same time, the officials said Rex Tillerson had signed a waiver saying that $195 million in military assistance to Egypt is in the U.S. national interest but had decided to hold off on spending it. Under federal law, Tillerson had until the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, to either sign the waiver, certify that Egypt is meeting the human rights conditions or return the money to the Treasury. The waiver gives Egypt additional time to meet the requirements for the $195 million, which Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2016.

When Trump met with el-Sissi in the White House in April he made no mention of Egypt’s human rights record in the post-meeting statement, an omission that many took as a sign that the issue was not a priority for the administration. Yet, two months later, two senators from Trump’s Republican Party slammed as “draconian” the law that effectively bans the work of non-governmental organizations and urged that it be repealed.

Can you guess who those 2 senators are?

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called it “draconian legislation” and they said the US Congress should in response “strengthen democratic benchmarks and human rights conditions on the US assistance to Egypt.”

US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and nine other senators sent Trump a letter on June 19 urging the president to press Sisi on the issue.

Unless I missed something, President John McCain is not in the White House. So why is Tillerson listening to him instead of to Trump?

According to Egyptian officials, this is an effort to stem funding to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Alaa Abed, chairman of the Free Egyptian Party’s parliamentary bloc, told The Daily Caller in a recent interview that although the idea behind NGOs is charitable and very needed in his country, a good number of them have taken a wrong turn.

“And the proof of that are the billions that have been given to these NGOs without any noticeable results that you can see,” Abed said.

According to Abed, about 48,000 NGOs are in Egypt and some are supported by the state. Of that number, though, “Only 500 receive foreign funds and 10 operate within the norms of the law…the rest (490) take the money into their pockets and 30 or 40 use the money to transfer to the [Muslim Brotherhood] or small terror cells.”

It obviously also starves some leftist NGOs of funds.

Why is McCain so agitated over it? The media won’t tell you. Few sources will.

But McCain chairs the International Republican Institute. The IRI was a Reagan idea to fight Communism. It’s since gone way off course and was involved in the Arab Spring. Sam LaHood was at the center of it. The international advisory board includes Mo Ibrahim whose daughter is a board member of the Clinton Foundation.

The question here is who is running the country. Whom did American vote for?

It was Trump who was running against nation building. Particularly of the ugly kind we’re seeing here. But Tillerson is obeying President McCain instead of President Trump. Our foreign policy is still being made by the same old people. That’s why the Iran deal is in place (and has not been made public), it’s why Israel is still being pressured to make concessions to terrorists and there’s yet more pressure on Egypt’s President Sisi to open the door to the same folks who brought you the Arab Spring.

It’s why Tillerson backed the Muslim Brotherhood’s backers in Qatar while Trump initially backed pressure on the terror state.

T o change the outcome, you have to change the policy. To change the policy, you have to change the people. Under McMaster and Tillerson, the foreign policy will be set by President McCain, not President Trump.

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Also see:

In Egypt, Clashes Between The Institution Of The Presidency And The Institution Of Al-Azhar

MEMRI, By: C. Meital, Aug. 21, 2017:

Introduction

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most important institute of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, and its head, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, are currently facing a political and media attack led by the institute of the Egyptian presidency, headed by President ‘Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi. This is the latest episode in the past two years of ongoing tension between the two institutions, over Al-Azhar’s apparent refusal to comply with the president’s dictates in matters of religion.

One aspect of the attack on Al-Azhar is President Al-Sisi’s direct criticism of Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb; another is criticism of Al-Azhar in the government press; and yet another is parliamentary moves led by Al-Sisi’s associates aimed at limiting the authorities of the Al-Azhar sheikh. There have also been calls for Sheikh Al-Tayeb himself to step down.

The main criticism against Al-Azhar is that the institution has failed to join the ideological war on terrorism that is led by President Al-Sisi. Critics say that Al-Azhar is not complying with Al-Sisi’s major goal, announced in 2014 and frequently reiterated by him, to promote a renewal of the religious discourse in Egypt, and also point out that it is refusing to level the accusation  of heresy against the Islamic State (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for several terror attacks in the country.[1] It is also being said that Al-Azhar’s curricula encourage young people to turn to terrorism. In addition, there is criticism of Al-Azhar’s refusal to change how divorces are handled, as Al-Sisi has also demanded.

Al-Azhar representatives, headed by Sheikh Al-Tayeb, have rejected these criticisms, calling them deliberate lies that damage Islam. To show that it is indeed fulfilling its role and that it is a moderate Islamic institution, Al-Azhar has in recent months held international conventions on the subject of fighting extremism, as well as meetings with young people, and has waged anti-extremism and anti-terrorism campaigns.[2]

It should be noted that despite the harsh criticism of Al-Azhar, and of Sheikh Al-Tayeb, it still has the public’s sympathy, and significant support from many members of parliament.

This report will focus on the tension between the Egyptian presidency and Al-Azhar, as reflected in statements by the leaders of both institutions, in parliamentary activity against it,  and in articles in the Egyptian press.

Al-Azhar Institute (image: balkans.aljazeera.ne)

Tension Between President Al-Sisi And Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayeb

As stated, in recent months it has become evident that there is considerable tension between President Al-Sisi and Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, as reflected in the president’s criticism of the sheikh both in public and in closed meetings. Currently, the main criticism against Al-Azhar is that it is not making sufficient efforts to advance the renewal of religious discourse in Egypt, as Al-Sisi has demanded. 

President Al-Sisi Repeatedly Reprimands Al-Azhar Sheikh – And Reportedly Threatens To Replace Him There have been several Egyptian newspaper reports concerning President’s Al-Sisi’s displeasure with Al-Azhar’s lack of action on this issue; he has made this clear in individual meetings with Sheikh Al-Tayeb and at public events.

At January 1, 2015 festivities marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad at the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments, Al-Sisi said to Sheikh Al-Tayeb: “The preachers are responsible to Allah for the renewal of the religious discourse and for improving the image of Islam. [On Judgment Day,] I will argue against you before Allah [if you do not do this].”[3]

Following a November 30, 2016 meeting between the two, the independent Egyptian daily Al-Misriyyoun reported on their chilly relationship and noted that the president was furious at Al-Azhar’s failure to vehemently attack political Islam organizations, specifically ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and for its continuing aggressive anti-Shi’ite position.[4]

There are, however, only a few such reports; for the most part, Al-Sisi is careful to express respect for Al-Azhar while at the same time clarifying his position vis-à-vis how it functions. Thus, he told the editors of government newspapers in a May 2017 interview: “Our general line is to protect the institutions of the Egyptian state, to urge them to fulfill their roles, and to develop them in a way that will suit the challenges and dangers that we face. Al-Azhar has a monumental status both inside and outside Egypt, and that is why we insist that it fulfill its role, because both the region and the world need it to do so.”[5]

At a June 21, 2017 event marking Laylat Al-Qadr, the night when, according to Muslim tradition, the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad, Al-Sisi praised Al-Azhar as a source of pride and for the position it has held for over a millennium. He went on to reiterate the need for a renewal of the religious discourse, calling it “a matter of life and death for the people and the ummah.”[6]

On July 26, 2017, four months after the April 8, 2017 Palm Sunday attacks on Mar Girgis church in Tanta and St. Marks Cathedral in Alexandria, Al-Sisi confirmed his decision to establish a Supreme Council for the Fight Against Extremism and Terrorism,” to be headed by him, and whose members would include the parliamentary speaker, the prime minister, the Al-Azhar sheikh, the Coptic Patriarch, various government ministers, the head of Egypt’s general intelligence service, the head of the Administrative Supervisory Authority, and public figures such as former Egyptian mufti Ali Goma’a.[7] However, even though the Al-Azhar sheikh is on the council, Egyptian media members who are close to the regime interpreted the establishment of the council as a blow to Al-Azhar’s authority; some even called it proof of Al-Azhar’s “demise.” The establishment of this council, they said, meant that the institution of the presidency had decided that it itself would act on the matter of renewing the religious discourse, instead of waiting for the Ministry of Endowments or for Al-Azhar to do so.[8]

Another serious dispute between Al-Sisi and Sheikh Al-Tayeb erupted over the issue of talaq ­– that is, a Muslim husband’s power to divorce his wife on the spot by merely telling her three times “I divorce you.” Al-Sisi again reprimanded Al-Tayeb in public. During a January 24, 2017 speech marking Police Day, he addressed him directly, saying: “You’ve tired me out, my friend.”[9] Al-Sisi went on to call for an end to this divorce practice, which is common in Egypt, and for divorce to be documented legally in order to reduce the rate of talaq divorces in the country.[10] In response, MP ‘Amr Hamroush hastened to prepare a bill regulating divorce.[11]

This demand by President Al-Sisi, which also garnered support from the Egyptian media, was perceived by the Al-Azhar institute as an affront to Islam, an attempt to secularize Egypt, and an attempt to circumvent the authority of the institute. In an announcement, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars clarified that “by virtue of Al-Azhar’s religious responsibility and its status in the Egyptian ummah, as determined by the constitution of Egypt,” it had in recent months convened to discuss current social issues, among them the issue of divorce in a religious context, and that it had decided that talaq is permitted. In this way, the council made it clear that Al-Azhar does indeed have decision-making authority in matters of Islamic law.[12]

Al-Azhar cleric Dr. Yahya Ismail said: “The war against Islam and its rulings is an old war. There is an ongoing, focused campaign to secularize Egypt…” He added: “This is a conspiracy against Islam and its guidelines… The rulings and conditions regarding divorce are known… The game of [legally] documenting divorce is an old one, and it is Christian clerics who were behind it [and who] tried to persuade some of [Egypt’s] presidents in this matter…” Al-Azhar lecturer Ahmed Karima also criticized Al-Sisi’s demand, saying: “Who will successfully eradicate this [talaq]? Only Allah or His Messenger… “[13]

Following the media uproar over the divorce issue, there was an attempt to calm the waters by both sides, and to show that things had returned to normal. On February 26, 2017, Al-Sisi stressed, in a meeting with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, that Al-Azhar is like a lighthouse for moderate Islamic ideology.[14] Al-Tayeb advisor Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Salam also denied that there was any disagreement between the two institutions of Al-Azhar and the presidency.[15]

Measures Against Al-Azhar: A Bill To Limit Al-Azhar Sheikh’s Authority And Establishment Of A Committee To Examine Al-Azhar Curricula

One manifestation of the anger at Al-Azhar was recent parliamentary measures against it and its sheikh aimed at limiting his authority and independence. Recently, MP Muhammad Abu Hamed, known to support Al-Sisi, proposed a change to the 1961 Al-Azhar Law regulating the authority of both the institute and its head. This bill was supported by parliamentary speaker Ali ‘Abd Al-A’al, who argued that the bill did not harm Al-Azhar.[16]

The main points of the amendment bill proposed by Abu Hamed make it clear that it is aimed at limiting the Al-Azhar sheikh’s authority and at increasing governmental control of the institute itself. For example, Section 2 of Abu Hamad’s bill states that the Al-Azhar sheikh is the Grand Imam of all Muslim clerics and that he represents the institute, but also states that his term is six years and that he can be reelected only once. The 1961 law did not mention the length of the sheikh’s term. Also according to the bill, the candidates for the position of sheikh are to be selected not just by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars, as has been the case to date, but jointly by the council and Al-Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Research. Further, according to Section 5 of the  bill, if two-thirds of the members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars feel that the sheikh is not fulfilling his role appropriately, he is to be sent before an investigative committee comprising seven of this council’s leading members. This committee has the power to warn him, reprimand him, or “revoke his authority.” The original 1961 law included nothing regarding internal oversight of the Al-Azhar sheikh.[17]

Section 8 of the bill authorizes the president to appoint the imam and preacher of Al-Azhar’s mosque, from among three candidates that are to be put forward by Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars.[18] Also, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars is to determine the content of the Friday sermons delivered at Al-Azhar mosque, and set regulations for religious, social, and cultural activities at the mosque.

It should be noted that an addition to the general definition of Al-Azhar’s role focuses on the importance of its role in developing religious discourse in a manner highlighting humane principles and unifying the Muslim ummah, and undermining the sources of the extremist discourse that crudely interprets Islam.[19]

Abu Hamed said of the bill that in today’s circumstances it is inconceivable that the Al-Azhar sheikh cannot be fired, and emphasized that three senior members of Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars are MB members.[20]

A further parliamentary step taken against the Al-Azhar institute relates to its educational curriculum. The chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee in the parliament, Osama Al-‘Abd, said that the committee has established a working group to examine the curriculum at the institute as part of a process to renew religious discourse in Egypt.[21]

Despite Abu Hamed’s bill and the examination of the curriculum, it is evident that there is much support in parliament for Sheikh Al-TayebAbu Hamed’s bill was criticized by several MPs who said that they had been unaware the law harmed the status of the Al-Azhar sheikh and asked that their signatures be removed from the bill. Further, MP Osama Sharshar wrote a memorandum to the parliamentary speaker that was signed by the majority of the 406 MPs demanding that the bill be opposed and not submitted because it was clearly aimed at harming one of the institutions of Egyptian society. Al-Azhar is a red line, he said, much like the military, and firing the Al-Azhar sheikh is practically heresy.[22]

For his part, Abu Hamed rejected the MPs’ request that their signatures be removed, and said that he would try to enlist the support of additional MPs and re-submit the bill during the next parliamentary session.[23] In this context, parliamentary sources revealed to the Egyptian daily Al-Shurouq that top-echelon officials had ordered that the bill be shelved.[24] Nevertheless, on several additional occasions Abu Hamed stressed that he intended to submit the bill, and that he had the signatures of 80 MPs who support it.[25]

On May 9, a delegation of MPs met with Sheikh Al-Tayeb, who thanked them for their opposition to those aiming to harm Al-Azhar and warned that any affront to it was a blow to Egypt’s position as defender of Islam and its moderateness.[26]

Allegations In Media That Al-Azhar Is Not Acting Against Terrorism; Calls For Sheikh Al-Tayeb To Resign

Read more

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence

by John Rossomando
IPT News
August 16, 2017

A group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians based in Istanbul has posted on Facebook a blueprint for overthrowing Egypt’s military regime. The Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) reposted several videos on July 31 that it had released on Facebook over the past month offering strategies for violently toppling the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Sisi rose to power in 2013, after the military ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.

Until now the ERC, which met with Obama administration officials and liberal think tanks in 2015, has largely been involved in lobbying against Sisi’s government. An Arabic hashtag saying, “Preparing for the Revolution#,” appeared on the ERC’s Facebook page. The attached videos contain PowerPoint-type presentations with recommendations for Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries in Egypt.

A July 1 ERC video asks, “How do we prepare for the revolution?” Egypt’s military holds all of the tools of power, so the video calls for Brotherhood supporters to block military movement to hinder it from suppressing any revolt.

“What do we do with the Army?? Like the Turks did,” the video says. “Determine the sites of all military units and the roads they use, and the locations of gates to hinder and cripple their movement when they think they are going out to confront the revolution.

“Like the Turks did using huge vehicles and deflating their tires to block the roads. We can use heavy oil on the roads to prevent the passage of [armored personnel] carriers like they did in Venezuela.”

Another video recommends targeting regime military airfields, ground defense units, pilot barracks, spare part warehouses, radar sites, and air defense installations. It emphasizes getting soldiers who either secretly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood or are sympathetic to the group to collect intelligence on pilots and navigators to keep them away from their aircraft. It also suggests gaining intelligence on the types of aircraft used by the Egyptian military and getting information about their takeoff schedules.

“The airfields must cease operating in the time of the revolution,” a slide says. “Blockading the pilots and preventing them form reaching the airfields is half the victory in the battle.”

The ERC enjoys little influence or name recognition within Egypt, but its turn toward endorsing violence puts egg on the faces of the Obama administration officials and the liberal intellectuals who embraced them, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“Even the fronts created to talk to the West are now using the language of violence,” Tadros said. “The mask has fallen; there’s no need to pretend any longer.”

ERC members used talking points about democracy and the rule of law while speaking in English during their 2015 visit, Tadros said, but those points were noticeably absent when they spoke in Arabic.

Other exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders also have called for violence recently on social media.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Ashraf Abdelghaffar called on Brotherhood members to return to the jihadist traditions of the movement’s founder, Hasan al-Banna. A “Mujahid Brother” – a Muslim Brotherhood member who wages violent jihad – held the highest place of honor in the movement, Abdelghaffar argued in an Aug. 5 Facebook post.

“The only weakness that shall humiliate us is the love of this world and hating death,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “Therefore we have prepared your souls for great action. Strive for death – and life will be given to you. Know that there is no escaping death, and it will happen only once, and if you carry it out for the sake of God, there will be profit in this world and reward in the Afterlife, and nothing will harm you except what Allah has decreed. Work for an honorable death, you will be thus granted full happiness. May God provide us and you, the honor of achieving the martyrdom.”

This thinking, he wrote, reflected Al-Banna’s instructions.

“Imam Al-Banna talks about elevating the word of Allah and liberating the homelands,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “The summit of Islam is Jihad in the Way of Allah.”

Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorist groups, such as the Revolutionary Punishment Movement (RPM), Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) and the Hassm Movement, have carried out attacks across Egypt since 2014 – sometimes in conjunction with ISIS Sinai Province. RPM and PRM were founded by Mohamed Kamal, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau who was killed last October in a gun battle with Egyptian police.

Kamal’s faction of the Muslim Brotherhood executive committee, also known as the “new guard,” decided to back away from the group’s prior public policy of endorsing peaceful resistance to the Sisi regime, George Washington University Muslim Brotherhood expert Mokhtar Awad noted in a July 26 Hudson Institute article.

The Brotherhood’s Shariah Committee published a book on a file sharing website in January 2015, The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup, that offered a religious justification for a campaign of violence against the Sisi regime. The book acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood’s touted public support for non-violence was tactical rather than a matter of principle, Awad said, citing this passage:

“Peacefulness is not a fundamental of Islam or the group [Muslim Brotherhood], and special operations work does not mean total confrontation,” the book’s authors wrote. “‘May God grant us and you the honor of martyrdom’ … the Jihadi tendency settled as a doctrine in the foundation of Imam al-Banna’s methodology and the acculturation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Until it became a slogan they repeat day and night and on every occasion: ‘God is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of God is our greatest hope.”

The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup appeared around the same time as the Brotherhood’s official Arabic website, Ikhwanonline, posted a communiqué calling for “a long, unrelenting jihad.”

Peacefulness isn’t a fundamental tenet of Islam or the Brotherhood and that things can change. Magdy Shalash, one of Kamal’s top Muslim Brotherhood deputies, told the Turkish-based pro-Brotherhood channel Mekameleen TV. The Brotherhood leadership’s espousal of a non-violent slogan after the military toppled President Morsi did not apply to self-defense, he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s old guard, headed by Acting Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat, still talks about peace, but the proliferation of violence and violent rhetoric shows it is losing control of the movement.

Muslim Brotherhood Incites More Terror Attacks Targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Women cry during the funeral for those killed in a Palm Sunday church attack in Alexandria Egypt, at the Mar Amina church, Monday, April 10, 2017. Egyptian Christians were burying their dead on Monday, a day after Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in coordinated attacks targeting Palm Sunday services in two cities. Women wailed as caskets marked with the word “martyr” were brought into the Mar Amina church in the coastal city of Alexandria, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels. (AP Photo/Samer Abdallah)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, May 29, 2017:

This past Friday I reported here at PJ Media on the attack just hours before the beginning of Ramadan on Coptic Christian pilgrims in Upper Egypt who were on their way to pray at a remote monastery in the desert.

Three vehicles full of gunmen opened fire on a bus with mostly women and children, killing 28. Only three children survived the attack.

This most recent attack, claimed Saturday by the Islamic State, comes amidst a rising tide of anti-Coptic incitement by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood here and abroad.

Over the weekend Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy published an article at Foreign Policy identifying some of the recent examples of Muslim Brotherhood incitement and encouragement of terrorism targeting Coptic Christians.

Among the examples Trager discovered after Friday’s attack on Coptic pilgrims was a Facebook post by Muslim Brotherhood youth leader Ahmed El-Moghir:

That comment has caught the attention of several Middle East media outlets. Here in the U.S., not so much.

Read more

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.

*****

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.

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