Egyptian planes pound ISIS in Libya in revenge for mass beheadings of Christians

Fox News, Feb. 16, 2015:

Egyptian warplanes struck hard at ISIS militants in neighboring Libya, killing as many as 64 militants and destroying the Islamist terror group’s training camps and weapons caches a day after a sickening video surfaced showing black-clad jihadists beheading 21 Coptic Christians.

The strikes came after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi went on national television in the world’s most populous Arab nation and vowed revenge was coming. The address was followed by the airing of military video showing the planes taking off for the mission and an Armed Forces General Command statement saying the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”

“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said.

The ISIS video released online showed the Egyptian victims, poor men from Egypt’s rural areas who had traveled to Libya looking for work, kneeling before Islamic State executioners. In Egypt, which by some estimates is about 10 percent Christian, the video sent shockwaves through both Muslim and Christian communities. El-Sisi, the U.S.-trained, former military leader who in a landmark New Year’s day address called on the Arab world to reject radical terror, and then took the unprecedented step of attending services at a Christian church, told his nation the deaths would be avenged.

“These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination” said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens. “Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”

On Monday, el-Sissi visited the main Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo to offer his condolences on the Egyptians killed in Libya, according to state TV.

Egyptian state-run news service Al-Ahram, citing a Libyan military spokesman, reported that the strikes, which were coordinated with Libyan officials, killed 64 Islamic State fighters and left dozens wounded. Egyptian officials told the news service the strikes were the first of several to come.

Egypt is already battling a burgeoning Islamist insurgency centered in the strategic Sinai Peninsula, where militants have recently declared their allegiance to ISIS and rely heavily on arms smuggled across the porous desert border between Egypt and Libya.

The strikes also come just a month before Egypt is scheduled to host a major donor’s conference at a Sinai resort to attract foreign investment needed to revive the economy after more than four years of turmoil.

The Egyptian government had previously declared a seven-day period of mourning and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed the nation late Sunday night, saying that his government reserved the right to seek retaliation for the killings.

“These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination” said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens. “Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”

Libya’s air force commander, Saqr al-Joroushi, told Egyptian state TV that the airstrikes were coordinated with the Libyan side and that they killed about 50 militants. Libya’s air force also announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, which was taken over by an ISIS affiliate last year. The announcement, on the Facebook page of the Air Force Chief of Staff, did not provide further details. Two Libyan security officials told the Associated Press civilians, including three children and two women, were killed in the strikes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The video was released late Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group. The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and January. The killings raise the possibility that the extremist group — which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate — has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy, Libya’s former colonial master. One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”

In Washington, the White House released a statement calling the beheadings “despicable” and “cowardly”, but made no mention of the victims’ religion, referring to them only as “Egyptian citizens” or “innocents.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest added in the statement that the terror group’s “barbarity knows no bounds.”

Also Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. He offered his condolences on behalf of the American people and strongly condemned the killings. Kerry and the foreign minister agreed to keep in close touch as Egyptians deliberated on a response, according to a release from the State Department.

The U.N. Security Council meanwhile strongly condemned what it called “the heinous and cowardly apparent murder in Libya of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” using another name for the terror group.

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also condemned the mass killing, calling it an “ugly crime.”

“The United Arab Emirates is devoting all its resources to support the efforts of Egypt to eradicate terrorism and the violence directed against its citizens,” he said.

Sheikh Abdullah added that the killing highlights the need to help the Libyan government “extend its sovereign authority over all of Libya’s territory.”

The oil-rich Emirates, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has given billions of dollars in aid to Egypt since el-Sissi, who was then military chief, overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests against his yearlong rule.

Egypt has since waged a sweeping crackdown against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group, which it has officially branded a terrorist organization. El-Sissi has insisted the crackdown in Egypt, as well as support for the government in Libya, is part of a larger war on terror.

Libya in recent months has seen the worst unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, which will complicate any efforts to combat the country’s many Islamic extremist groups.

The internationally recognized government has been confined to the country’s far east since Islamist-allied militias seized the capital Tripoli last year, and Islamist politicians have reconstituted a previous government and parliament.

Egypt has strongly backed the internationally recognized government, and U.S. officials have said both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have taken part in a series of mysterious airstrikes targeting Islamist-allied forces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Also see:

21 Egyptian Christians executed in Islamic State video

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.32.19 PM-thumb-560x304-5880LWJ, By

A video released by the Islamic State shows fighters from one of its so-called provinces in Libya beheading 21 Egyptian Copts. The mass murders were advertised by Islamic State’s media operatives over the past couple of days. And the latest edition of the organization’s English-language magazine Dabiq, which was released last week, implied that the men had been killed.

In a scene that is similar to past videos from Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State’s victims are ritualistically walked along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea before being forced to kneel with their captors standing behind them.

An English-speaking fighter then talks, saying that he and his fellow jihadists are sending a message from “the south of Rome,” thereby threatening Italy. In recent weeks, members of the Italian government have called for more aggressive international intervention in Libya.

The fighter then says that the Islamic State and its allies will continue to fight the “Crusaders” until Jesus comes again. This is a reference to the apocalyptic Islamic belief that Jesus will reappear at the end of days.

The Islamic State’s head executioner says that the West hid Osama bin Laden’s body in the sea, and so the jihadists will mix the West’s blood in the same sea.

After the men are beheaded, the English-speaking fighter raises his knife to the water and swears that the Islamic State will conquer Rome.

The fighter’s reference to Osama bin Laden stands in stark contrast to the Islamic State’s denunciation of Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor as al Qaeda chief, in the latest edition of Dabiq.

The Islamic State claimed in Dabiq that the kidnapping of the 21 Egyptian men came “almost five years after the blessed operation against the Baghdad church.” That attack was launched in late 2010 by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the predecessor to the current Islamic State. The ISI claimed at the time that the suicide assault, which left dozens of people dead, was revenge for the supposed mistreatment of women in Egypt.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s propagandists repeated this claim in Dabiq. But the Islamic State added that al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, referred to by his nom de guerre Azzam al Amriki, condemned the act “in some of his letters” to the group. The Islamic State accused Gadahn of acting “on his personal rancor towards the Islamic State as soon as he became a top leader of [al Qaeda] after the martyrdom of” Osama bin Laden. Gadahn’s critique of the Islamic State’s practices are well-known, and his role in al Qaeda’s senior ranks predates bin Laden’s death.

The authors of Dabiq also accused Zawahiri of defending the Copts. “I want to restate our position towards the Coptic Christians. We do not want to get into a war with them because we are busy in the battle against the greatest enemy of the Ummah [America] and because they are our partners in this nation, partners whom we wish to live with in peace and stability,” the Islamic State quoted Zawahiri as saying.

“So while the Islamic State targeted the Catholics in revenge for the sisters imprisoned by the Copts, Azzam al Amriki’s commander [Zawahiri] was wooing the war-waging Copts themselves with feeble words,” Baghdadi’s men claimed in Dabiq.

The Islamic State has accused al Qaeda of being soft on Iran, as well as the Shiites in Iraq and Yemen. In executing the 21 Egyptian Copts, Baghdadi’s organization extended this argument further, claiming that al Qaeda weakly opposes, or does not oppose at all, Egypt’s Christians.

Thus, the beheadings shown in the newly released video were intended to intimidate both Egypt and Italy. And the Islamic State hopes to portray al Qaeda’s leaders as being weak-minded in their pursuit of jihad.

Images from the Islamic State’s new video and the latest edition of Dabiq magazine

The lead executioner points his knife at the Mediterranean Sea, promising that the Islamic State will conquer Rome:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.54.34 PM-thumb-560x306-5883

In a scene reminiscent of the beheading videos to come out of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State’s victims are lined up in front of their murderers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.41.30 PM-thumb-560x304-5886

The video includes the same scenes portrayed in the latest edition of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.07.17 AM-thumb-560x525-5889

The latest edition of Dabiq, which was released last week, included this image from the mass slaying:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.07.59 AM-thumb-560x654-5835

 

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Shoebat.com has the video: 

WATCH THE VIDEO: ISIS Savages Beheading Twenty One Coptic Christians (“AND I SAW THE MARTYRS WHO WERE BEHEADED IN THE NAME OF JESUS” IS BEING FULFILLED)

Rep. Gowdy Must Confront Clinton, Valerie Jarrett on Potential Roles in Benghazi

AP Photo/Jacquelyn-Martin

AP Photo/Jacquelyn-Martin

Breitbart, by Charles Ortel, Feb. 11, 2015:

After six years of a foreign policy strategy that observers have assessed as questionable at best, Americans and remaining foreign allies finally deserve an honest explanation of President Obama’s true aims across the Middle East. One person who should explain why the Obama Administration continually asserts the United States is making progress abroad despite so many appalling setbacks is senior aide Valerie Jarrett, whose influence shaping key policies is suggested in second-hand reports, but not yet adequately understood.

With Iran rising, and regimes falling throughout the region, now is the time to subject our President’s singular Senior Advisor to rigorous Congressional oversight, under oath, beginning with an appearance before Congress’s Select Committee on Benghazi.

Expose the real command structure inside the Obama Administration

Numerous accounts by high level U.S. government officials suggest that traditional reporting lines inside the Executive Branch are essentially irrelevant. Using Valerie Jarrett and other reliable associates, President Obama imposes his will everywhere that he can, outside effective scrutiny of political opponents, investigative journalists, and the American public.

Congressman Trey Gowdy, as head of Select Committee investigating the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, has the assignment and the resources he needs to retrieve answers and hold accountable those responsible for the disastrous events that occurred starting September 11, 2012. To do his job properly, he needs to widen his focus beyond Libya, expose how the Obama White House actually makes its decisions, and determine which foreign powers are prime beneficiaries of Executive Branch actions.

It is not enough for the Select Committee simply to identify which officials may have slowed, or even stopped, rescue efforts for beleaguered U.S. government employees and/or contractors mired inside Libya, almost three years ago. Instead, Americans need to understand how deeply involved in Federal government are organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and who has ultimate responsibility for vetting key government appointees and private contractors.

In addition, we deserve to know how deeply ties run between key Administration officials and the government of Iran, which seems to be the only clear beneficiary of Obama foreign policies. Furthermore, the American public should learn how widespread the practice has become wherein foreign interests purchase influence over government officials, theoretically independent scholars, and media watchdogs.

The truth actually matters

So far, Valerie Jarrett’s name does not figure on the published list of witnesses scheduled to appear before the Select Committee on Benghazi. Nor does Huma Abedin’s, a longtime aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both of these individuals likely could help unravel the confusion concerning how America’s relations with Libya and with Egypt disintegrated so profoundly, opening up opportunities for Vladimir Putin to extend Russia’s influence in nations of key strategic significance.

Looking back before September 11, 2012, Congressman Gowdy should uncover who, other than Hillary Clinton (perhaps Ms. Jarrett?), must have approved the deeply troubling decision to let Huma Abedin simultaneously serve multiple masters– including the U.S. taxpayer, Hillary Clinton personally, Teneo Corporation and the Clinton Foundation. Given what happened after Mohamed Morsi took power by June 30, 2012, and given the continuing defiant support of the Obama Administration for the Muslim Brotherhood inside Egypt and the United States, the American public has every right to learn how someone with such suspect foreign connections became so involved in atypical ways influencing sensitive government initiatives.

Hillary Clinton apparently is eager to give her side of the story–though her attitude towards telling the truth is certainly flexible, as any fair-minded re-examination of her Bosnian landing under sniper fire reveals in retrospect.

Congressman Gowdy must summon the courage to examine closely the flows of official and intermediary communications and of money between and among interested parties in Libya and Egypt, not just in 2012, but from January 20, 2009 forward. Substantial U.S. government funds evidently disappeared under Hillary Clinton’s watch over the State Department–during the same period large donations flowed into Clinton Foundation while grants flowed to numerous recipients. Rather than shrugging off the confusing array of information, Congressman Gowdy needs to dive in and ferret out a comprehensible timeline that explains the motives and potential benefits derived by key interested parties.

When it comes to getting Obama Administration officials such as Valerie Jarrett to take Congressional oversight seriously, the record since January 2009 is certainly not encouraging–even now, on a potentially incendiary matter closer to home involving possible targeting of political opponents using the Internal Revenue Service, the Obama White House refuses to supply essential documents. So, teasing out the real timeline with regard to Libya, Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood will likely require aggressive tactics.

The difficult road ahead

Daunting as challenges seem across the Middle East, additional dangers threaten America in the potential splintering of Europe, the unrepentant rise of Putin’s Russia, and from China.

As Congressman Gowdy continues his important work, perhaps the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Egypt, and Israel can use their intelligence resources to help the American public understand exactly what the Obama Administration attempts as it continues redrawing the constellation of western interests across the Middle East.

Time is of the essence. Great nations with far more experienced leaders have floundered following misadventures outside their own borders. In the kind of Congressional oversight that has been sorely lacking until now, perhaps the United States can again find our best feet, and move these forward.

SEN. TED CRUZ: ‘ISIS IS THE FACE OF EVIL,’ IRAN PRESENTS ‘GRAVEST THREAT’ TO AMERICA

ted-cruz-AP (1)Breitbart, by JORDAN SCHACHTEL, Feb. 11 2015:

Washington, D.C.– A group of internationally-recognized scholars, national security practitioners, and high-ranking government officials convened at the Defeat Jihad Summit to discuss “The Record to date in Defeating the Global Jihad Movement.”

Among the discussants were Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who urged at length that America must defeat the Global Jihad Movement and prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon through a comprehensive strategy in order to preserve the United States’s freedom.

“This is an important gathering,” stressed Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). “This is a comprehensive, serious strategy in addressing the threat of radical Islamism,” the Senator said in complementing the Center For Security’s Secure Freedom Strategy.

“If you’re not aware of what you’re fighting, you’re not going to defeat it,” said Cruz.

What brings together jihadists groups, such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram, is the ideology of “radical Islam,” explained Cruz.

Cruz added that if Christians and Jews tortured and killed people in the name of their religion, he and the surrounding panel would be the first to condemn the attacks as a perversion of their faith.

“It is the radical islamist theology and political philosophy of jihad” that our enemies preach, and “It is dangerous not to acknowledge it,” explained the Senator from Texas.

Cruz commended Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s speech in which he called for reformation in Islam. “He knew well that he was risking his life to say that,” he explained.

Cruz said that while he was at the Munich Security Conference, the President of Kurdistan revealed to him that ISIS was using rape as a political tool to instill fear within minority sects. “ISIS is the face of evil. They are beheading children. They are crucifying Christians. They are beheading journalists,” said Cruz.

Cruz concluded, “The solution to ISIS is not eradicating poverty in the Middle East, or expanding medicaid in Iraq. The solution to ISIS is to hunt down and kill the terrorist leaders,”

The Senator recommended that the United States directly arm and equip the Kurdish Peshmerga, instead of sending the weapons through Baghdad. America needs to arm the Kurds so they can “hunt down and kill the ISIS leaders,” he said.

Cruz said that the nation also needs to recognize the threat posed by Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, which is the “gravest threat” facing the United States. “We are repeating the mistakes of the 1990s with regard to North Korea… but here the dangers are qualitatively greater,” he said. What makes Iran more dangerous is that their country, which is led by Ayatollah Khamenei and the mullahs, are not rational actors

“If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the odds are unacceptably high that they will use that weapon,” added Cruz. Even If Iran doesn’t use their nuclear weapon, “the inevitable result will be nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East,” he concluded.

Muslim Brotherhood: White House Official Met Us at State Department

White HouseWashington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 10, 2015:

A Muslim Brotherhood member who recently was hosted at the State Department along with several of the Islamist group’s key allies now claims that a White House official also was present in that meeting, according to recent remarks.

Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member and former Egyptian parliamentarian, was in the United States late last month along with a delegation of fellow Brotherhood leaders and allies.

The Brotherhood-aligned delegation caused an international stir after the Washington Free Beacon revealed that it had been hosted for a meeting with several State Department officials.

Another member of the group, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol.

While the State Department initially misled reporters about the meeting, it was eventually forced to admit that several Obama administration officials—including a deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor—and State Department officials met with the delegation.

Al-Dardery now claims that in addition to these State Department representatives, a member of the White House also participated in the sit-down.

“The trip started for the [Egyptian] community in New York and New Jersey,” al-Dardery said in a recent interview with the Arabic language pro-Muslim Brotherhood El Sharq TV.  “Then during the trip we undertook to meet with some from the ‘establishment,’ the administration, in the United States.  And we met at the State Department and there was a representative there from the White House.”

A State Department official said that it could not speak to the White House’s involvement in any meetings and referred any questions to it.

In addition to Al-Dardery, the delegation included Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Waleed Sharaby, a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and a spokesman for Judges for Egypt, a group reported to have close ties to the Brotherhood.

News of the meeting between the Brotherhood allies and the Obama administration caused anger among many in the Egyptian government, which is fighting furiously to crackdown on the Islamist group and its supporters.

“These statements are incomprehensible to me, we do not understand that there will be such a communication with the elements involved in terrorist acts to intimidate the Egyptians,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri was quoted as saying in the regional press following the Free Beacon’s initial report.

“The Brotherhood is not a political party,” but “a terrorist organization,” Shukri said.

The Obama administration found itself in more hot water after questions were raised about its initial statements regarding the meeting.

State Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki initially claimed that the Brotherhood-aligned delegation was sponsored by Georgetown University, a claim that turned out to be false.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the accurate information on one small piece. The meeting was set up by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a nonprofit. So the visit was not funded, as you know, by us or the U.S. Government, but it was also not funded by Georgetown,” Psaki said last week, under renewed questioning from reporters about the meeting.

Psaki went on to say that the Obama administration remains comfortable entertaining the Brotherhood.

“Are you—is the building comfortable with continuing to do business with this center, this group?” a reporter asked.

“Yes. Yes,” Psaki responded.

Muslim Brotherhood Rep: “We are Now in The Retaliation Phase” – Al-Sisi Vows to Fight Back

Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai sets of a bomb.

Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai sets of a bomb.

Clarion Project, February 8, 2015

Muslim Brotherhood-linked television stations based in Turkey have been calling on supporters to use violent means in Egypt in an attempt to overthrow President Sisi and his army-backed government and return the country to Muslim Brotherhood rule.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been designated as a terrorist organization by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The official Muslim Brotherhood representative in Turkey, Ashraf Abdulgaffar, made a similar call, advocating a policy of “an eye for an eye.” He said: “We are now in the retaliation phase. They [Sisi’s government] must taste pain, because there are traitors. My message to the Egyptian people is this: Stand firm and be ready for all sacrifices and prices to be paid.”

Other statements went much further. A “communique” issued by an organization claiming to be the “Revolutionary Youth,” and broadcast on Muslim Brotherhood Rabia TV, threatened to launch terrorist attacks on foreign nationals in Egypt. The televised statement gave all foreign nationals until February 11 to leave Egypt, saying “after that they may become targeted by the movements of revolutionary retribution.”

The commique went on to threaten foreign businesses saying, “All foreign companies operating on Egyptian soil have an opportunity until February 20 to withdraw all their franchises from Egypt and cease their operations.” If they do not do so, the group threatens, “all their projects may be targeted by the rebels.”

Muhammed Nasir, a commentator on the Brotherhood-linked Misr al An TV was just as blunt saying: “It is time to begin armed struggle.”

Both of these Brotherhood TV stations are based in Turkey.

This follows the call for “long and unrelenting jihad” that the Brotherhood published on their Arabic website last week.

According to Youm7, an Egyptian paper, Major-General Mahmoud Zaher, a strategic and political expert, said that the communique broadcast by the Rabia channel gave Egypt the right to fight the Muslim Brotherhood internationally. He said this threat was tantamount to a declaration of war. Speaking to Sky News Arabic, Zaher commented, “This is stupidity, and I thank them for this stupid act because it allows us to fight this group according to international law.”

Violence and clashes have continued within Egypt. This morning, nine Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in the Sinai for inciting violence and attacking the police and the army. On Friday, Brotherhood supporters clashed in the streets with the army in Cairo’s suburb of Matariya.

The raids follow an intensifying army assault on the Islamic State’s affiliate in the Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. The army killed 27 militants on Friday in a series of airstrikes. For its part, the militants claimed responsibility for an IED that destroyed a military vehicle at Rafah in the Sinai near the Gaza strip.

The Brotherhood’s official statement on the Sinai campaign made no mention of the terrorist attacks of the Islamic State, instead saying, “There is no solution to this situation, except by returning the army to its barracks, restoring to the people of the Sinai their rights and dignity, trying all the criminals, and exacting retribution for all the blood spilled.”

Yet, President Barack Obama recently conducted private meetings last Wednesday with senior U.S. Muslim leaders connected to theBrotherhood. This is on top of the State Department and several congressmen meeting in closed sessions with a delegation from theEgyptian Muslim Brotherhood last week.

 

Egyptian President Al-Sisi Vows to Combat Terrorism in the Sinai

In a speech delivered on January 31, following a wave of terror attacks in the Sinai, Egyptian President Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi vowed to combat terrorism, saying: “We are ready to die in order to keep the Sinai in Egyptian hands.”

 

Also see:

Egypt Excoriates Washington Post for Pro-Brotherhood Bias

Muslim Brotherhood supporters demonstrate in Egypt carrying flags bearing the Brotherhood's logo which featured crossed swords. (Photo: © Reuters)

Muslim Brotherhood supporters demonstrate in Egypt carrying flags bearing the Brotherhood’s logo which featured crossed swords. (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, By Ryan Mauro, Feb. 5, 2015:

The Egyptian embassy has posted a letter by the ambassador to the U.S. thrashing the Washington Post for “toeing the Muslim Brotherhood line” and presenting the Islamist group as “moderate.”  It ends by advising the newspaper to be more balanced in order to “save whatever is left of your credibility in the Arab world.”

The letter is a response to a Washington Post editorial eviscerating the Egyptian government for having a “violent and cynical nature.” It claims that President El-Sisi is suppressing freedom and democracy and that his oppression is benefiting terrorist groups in the Sinai like the Islamic State (ISIS).

“The outlet also consistently promotes the polished English of Muslim Brotherhood propagandists, while muting attention to that organization’s Arabic messages, which drive extreme Islamist rhetoric and call for bloodshed, martyrdom and terror,” Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik writes.

Ambassador Tawfik writes that the newspaper has also “gone out of its way to absolve the Muslim Brotherhood of their crimes.” He points out that the editorial claims that Egyptian police killed over 20 protestors. What the Post didn’t mention is that three of them were Muslim Brotherhood members killed by their own explosives and the “protestors” killed two police officers.

The Egyptian government’s website documents the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood and warns about how the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood is promoting the Islamist group in the media and policy circles. Tawfik touches on this in his letter, writing:

“History shows how a small number of Western academics and lobbyists succeeded in repackaging the Muslim Brotherhood and selling it to their elites as the panacea for curing radicalism, rather than the Trojan Horse it really is.”

Tawfik reminds readers that the Brotherhood “is the mother organization from which modern day violent jihad has sprung” and that the preaching of Brotherhood cleric Sayyid Qutb continues to radicalize Muslims today.

The Egyptian embassy is also offended at the editorial’s indictment of the government for the shooting death of activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh. Videotapes show that she was killed by a police officer using birdshot.

While this is terrible, it is unfair to blame the entire Egyptian government for it. There is no proof of a cover-up. In fact, an independent commission authorized by the Egyptian government concluded that the police used excessive force and violated human rights.

El-Sisi admits police abuse is a problem and is urging security forces to be mindful of human rights. He said that he views all Egyptian women, including al-Sabbagh, as his daughters and declared her a “martyr.” He ordered an investigation into her death, and the interior minister has said he will arrest any police officer involved.

The Post ridicules President Obama for ignoring these alleged human rights abuses in order to continue security cooperation. The newspaper apparently hasn’t paid attention to how many times the Obama Administration has criticized the Egyptian government.

The Obama Administration signaled its opposition to the military’s popularly supported overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It condemned Egypt’s crackdown on the Brotherhood and suspended a significant amount of military aid to Egypt as punishment. The White House continues to falsely assert that the Brotherhood is non-violent.

The U.S. demands the release of former Egyptian President Morsi and imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood members. The State Department recently met with Muslim Brotherhood figures plotting El-Sisi’s overthrow, including one who had his picture taken with a top Hamas leader.

The tension between President El-Sisi and President Obama is palpable. The Egyptian government used the riots in Ferguson to hit America back for its crackdown on the Brotherhood. Egypt has been moving closer to Russia as a result of the lack of U.S. support.

This isn’t the first time that the Egyptian government led by El-Sisi has grappled with the Washington Post. In an August 2013 interview, El-Sisi fought back against how his country was being depicted by the American media. He bluntly said to the reporter:

“The title of the article should be ‘Hey America: Where is your support for Egypt? Where is your support for free people?’…What I want the American reader to know is that this is a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule, and this free people needs your support.”

El-Sisi made the case that the Brotherhood qualifies as a terrorist group and its overthrow was necessary and demanded by the population. Indeed, the protests requesting the removal of the Brotherhood-led government were the largest in human history, dwarfing the crowds that forced Egyptian President Mubarak’s resignation.

El-Sisi said the Muslim Brotherhood ideology is “based on restoring the Islamic religious empire” and is an international organization in 60 countries. He explained that “Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood,” hinting at the inconsistency in America’s labeling of amas as a terrorist group but not the Brotherhood.

Also see:

Foreigners, Diplomats Warned to Leave Egypt or Be Targeted for Jihad

In this Friday, Aug. 2, 2013 file photo, Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold a large Egyptian national flag as chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque / AP

In this Friday, Aug. 2, 2013 file photo, Supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold a large Egyptian national flag as chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Feb. 3, 2015:

An Islamist organization sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood is warning all foreigners and diplomats to flee Egypt by the end of February or face becoming “a target by the Revolutionary Punishment Movement,” according to a recent warning posted online by a Brotherhood-affiliated site and read live on television by one of its broadcast organs.

The statement issues a threat to “all foreign nationals,” “all foreign companies,” and all “embassy foreigners, diplomats, and ambassadors,” ordering them to leave Egypt by the end of the month or face violent attacks, according to an independent translation of the Arabic statement.

Foreign travelers also are warned to “cancel their trips” and told “they are not welcome to Egypt during these difficult days.”

The warning comes just a week after Brotherhood leaders and allies were hosted for a meeting at the State Department, which drew fierce criticism from the Egyptian government.

It also follows a similar statement by the Brotherhood urging its supporters to prepare for a “long, uncompromising jihad” in Egypt.

The latest threat was issued by an anti-government group identifying itself as “The Youth of the Revolution.” The statement was published late last week on a Brotherhood-affiliated Facebook page and also read on a Brotherhood-affiliated television station operating out of Turkey.

“After the successive meetings with revolutionaries in the squares, we decided with all the Revolutionary Punishment Movement the following,” the statement reads.

“All embassy foreigners, diplomats, and ambassadors, are given a deadline until Feb. 28 to leave the homeland,” it states.

“All foreign nationals, from all foreign, Arab, and African nationalities and all employees with companies working in Egypt [must] leave the country immediately,” it says. “This deadline will end on Feb. 11, 2015, and after that they will be a target by the Revolutionary Punishment Movement.”

Foreign companies “working in Egypt” are instructed to leave by Feb. 20, “withdraw their licenses in Egypt and end their work, otherwise all their projects will be targets by revolutionaries.”

The revolutionary youth group also instructs any country supporting the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to withdraw its backing.

Like the Brotherhood, the “The Youth of the Revolution” does not recognize al-Sisi as the rightful Egyptian leader and seeks to reinstall as president ousted Brotherhood ally Mohamed Morsi.

“All countries supporting the coup and assisting it monetarily and politically must immediately cease from any support to the coup within a month from this statement otherwise all their interests in the Middle East will be exposed to severe attacks that will have dire consequences,” the group warns.

Following the Washington Free Beacon’s initial report on the meeting between the State Department and Brotherhood-aligned leaders, the Egyptian foreign minister lashed out at the Obama administration, calling its policies “incomprehensible.”

State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was forced to admit that she initially misled reporters about the meeting.

Psaki claimed that the trip was organized and funded by Georgetown University, a claim the university denied when contacted Monday by the Free Beacon.

Psaki was forced to correct the record at a briefing Monday with reporters.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the accurate information on one small piece. The meeting was set up by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a nonprofit. So the visit was not funded, as you know, by us or the U.S. Government, but it was also not funded by Georgetown,” Psaki said.

However, she continued to defend the decision to meet with the delegation.

When asked by a reporter, “is the building comfortable with continuing to do business with this center, this group,” Psaki responded, “Yes. Yes.”

Terrorism analyst and reporter Patrick Poole said Brotherhood offshoots such as this youth group have become increasingly violent as the Egyptian government continues its crackdown on the Brotherhood and terrorist groups.

“For a year and a half we’ve seen these Brotherhood youth cadre offshoots grow increasingly violent, whether it is the ‘Molotov Movement’, ‘Revolutionary Punishment Council’, or whatever name they operate under this month,” Poole said. “Initially it was targeting police and military personnel, then violence at the universities and civilian areas. So it’s no surprise now that they’re going after foreigners.”

Brotherhood leaders have quietly endorsed this violent rhetoric, he said.

“The Brotherhood leadership, the vast majority of which is now either in prison or in exile, has nurtured this culture,” Poole said. “They train for it and justify it in their indoctrination curriculum. And as the call for a new phase of all-out jihad published on the Brotherhood’s official website last week indicates, this latest threat of violence can be seen as a direct response to what the leadership openly called for just days before.”

Egypt Labels Hamas’ Military Wing Terrorists

sissi-terror-e1414296567645IPT, by John Rossomando  •  Feb 2, 2015

An Egyptian court has labeled the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, a terrorist organization.

“The court ruled to ban the Qassam Brigades and to list it as a terrorist group,” Judge Mohamed al-Sayid said Saturday in an interview with Reuters.

The decision came as a result of a suit brought by Egyptian attorney Samir Sabri that accused the Qassam Brigades of financing and participating in attacks in Egypt against police, military and other targets. Hamas has diverged from its goal of fighting Israel and now aims to undermine Egypt’s internal security, according to the Egyptian court.

The court’s decision centered on the Qassam Brigades’ alleged involvement in a series of terrorist attacks, including one in October that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. Sabri’s suit also claimed that Hamas’ armed wing smuggled weapons and funds into Egypt through a network of tunnels.

Egyptian security forces expanded their buffer zone along the border with Gaza in November in an effort to crackdown on the terrorist group’s smuggling operations. They claim to have destroyed 1,600 tunnels since President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July 2013.

Egypt’s government blames the Qassam Brigades for the spate of terrorist violence in the Sinai by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Salafi-jihadist group aligned with the Islamic State, which is believed to be responsible for hundreds of attacks in Egypt.

Last May, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution claimed that 200 suspects tied to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis received training at camps run by the Qassam Brigades.

Last week, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis launched a series of attacks across the northern Sinai that killed 20 people, including civilians, and left 36 wounded. The attacks included a car bomb that detonated outside a military base and a series of mortar rounds that were fired at a hotel and several checkpoints.

Hamas dismissed the decision, labeling it as politics. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the ruling “dangerous” and claimed it only “serves the Israeli occupation,” also stating that the Qassam Brigades don’t have an interest in interfering with Egypt’s internal affairs.

Hamas deputy political leader Mousa abu Marzook denounced the ruling, calling the current Egyptian regime a “coup against the history, the ethics, and the principles of Egypt,” according to the Ma’an News Agency.

“Historically, the Qassam Brigades has never pointed their rifles at any of our people, especially our big sister Egypt and her army,” Marzook said.

A different court ruling from March banned Hamas from operating in Egypt. That came amid a crackdown on the terrorist group’s parent organization – the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamic State’s Sinai ‘province’ claims simultaneous attacks on Egyptian military, police

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 5.39.21 PM-thumb-560x356-5596LWJ, By

Wilayat Sinai, or the Sinai Province of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for a series of attacks throughout the Sinai yesterday via posts on Twitter. In a statement released earlier today, the organization said the operations were revenge against the Egyptian government for imprisoning the “sisters.” Two pictures of the attacks, one of which can be seen above, were posted with the statement.

The same justification has been offered by Ajnad Misr (“Soldiers of Egypt”) for its operations in Cairo and elsewhere. The jihadists claim that devout Muslim women are being oppressed by the government and, therefore, need to be avenged.

Wilayat Sinai says in its statement today that complex assaults were carried out against the Egyptian military and police in El Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah. The raid in El Arish appears to have been the most sophisticated, as it involved three explosives-laden vehicles.

Interestingly, the group says that it launched the assaults, utilizing almost one hundred fighters (a claim that cannot be independently verified), after nighttime curfews went into effect. It did so to supposedly minimize the loss of civilian life.

The Islamic State and its so-called “provinces” are not known for their concern for civilian casualties in the Muslim majority world. Al Qaeda and its branches have attempted to steer their violence away from Muslim civilians, however. And, interestingly, Wilayat Sinai’s claim in this regard is again similar to how Ajnad Misr says it carries out its operations inside Egypt.

Ajnad Misr, which was designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in December, is an offshoot of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (“ABM”) and has not sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization.

ABM’s Sinai faction pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last November and was quickly rebranded as the group’s Sinai “province.”

The number of casualties caused by the attacks varies across press accounts.

According to an Egyptian health official who spoke with Agence France Presse (AFP), at least 40 people were killed and dozens more were injured. Other reports say the number of casualties was lower. Wilayat Sinai’s statement implies that the number of people killed or wounded is much higher.

Regardless, the attacks are clearly the deadliest ones conducted by the group since it swore allegiance to the Islamic State.

The New York Times reports that the series of raids were carried out on the North Sinai security directorate headquarters, an army base, various security checkpoints, a hotel, the capital of the province, and a security camp.

Wilayat Sinai claimed several terrorist operations in late December, one on a natural gas pipeline that extends into Jordan and two others on Egyptian military vehicles.

The group has repeatedly targeted the Egyptian military in the Sinai, and killed dozens of soldiers in October, leading security forces to impose curfews in the North Sinai. Wilayat Sinai specifically mentions those curfews in today’s statement.

According to CNN, hundreds of police and troops have been killed in the last year and a half, since the military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.

According to one report in the Financial Times, Wilayat Sinai’s large-scale operations may have spurred smaller cells in other cities to also strike out in Suez, Cairo, and Port Said.

Despite the military’s crackdown since October, security forces are clearly unable to prevent these types of significant, multi-stage assaults from happening, highlighting flaws in Egypt’s ability to combat the jihadists.

Following Thursday’s raids, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) released a statement on the army spokesman’s Facebook page announcing it would ramp up operations to crackdown on militants in the Sinai. And President Abdul Fattah al Sisi cut his trip to an African Union summit in Ethiopia short due to the attacks.

In addition to the photo shown above, Wilayat Sinai released this photo from yesterday:

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 5.40.55 PM-thumb-560x356-5599

Islamic State Affiliate Attacks Sinai as Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Jihad

The flag of the Sinai-based terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The flag of the Sinai-based terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, Jan. 30, 2015:

Islamic State’s Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, took credit via Twitter for coordinated attacks against the Egyptian military and police on Thursday killing at least 26 people and wounding 60 more.

According to security officials, the terrorists first targeted a military base, military hotel, and police offices in el-Arish, the capital of North Sinai. A car bomb went off by the rear of the military base while militants fired rockets at each building. Army checkpoints were also attacked throughout the city.

The terrorists targeted two additional towns, nearby Sheik Zuwayid and Gaza-bordering Rafah.

Despite the claim of responsibility, Egypt’s military spokesman blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom the military has been locked in a struggle with since the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohammed Morsi. There is a potential historical link between the Brotherhood and Sinai Province.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) was inspired by al-Qaeda and formed during the January 2011 uprisings against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s long-time ruler. Some believe the Muslim Brotherhood is connected to Sinai Province and that the former was and is instrumental in creating and aiding the latter.

This is in part because the ISIS-affiliated group increased its activity after Morsi was brought down, with one security expert stating that the group was “avenging the Brotherhood.” Additionally, Nabil Naeem, founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, said in a 2013 article that ABM had been funded by the Brotherhood. Refaat Said, leader of the Socialist Party, Tagammu, went further to say that Morsi himself placed ABM in Sinai and released some members from prison. Moreover, Brotherhood Without Violence, a group with Brotherhood ties, states that ISIS in Sinai is the Brotherhood’s military wing.

The Egyptian government does have motivation to lay an ISIS-affiliated group at the Brotherhood’s feet but the possibility is important to note.

The Brotherhood also relates to the developing Sinai situation due to a recent visit to the U.S. State Department this week by a delegation of its leaders. This group met with State Department officials in Washington, DC to discuss their continuous opposition to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government.

Soon after the State Department meeting and just two days before the coordinated terror attacks in Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a “long, uncompromised jihad.” It is unclear if there is a link between this call for jihad and ISIS affiliates causing violence in Sinai, but the timing certainly makes for an interesting coincidence considering the Obama Administration’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood maintains a commitment to non-violence.

Egypt is an important ally for the West in its fight with global jihad and President Sisi’s efforts in this endeavor are essential, but his government is being challenged by this entrenched insurgency. The United States should be working with al-Sisi to fight jihad in all forms, whether from the Muslim Brotherhood or the spreading Islamic State.

Muslim Brotherhood: Prepare for Jihad

1122by IPT News  •  Jan 30, 2015

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, hailed as a moderate voice andwelcomed by officials in the Obama administration just this week, issued separate statements on its English and Arabic websites this week that appear to contradict each other.

A call for “a long, unrelenting Jihad” appeared on the Brotherhood’s Arabic language website Tuesday. The statement, first reported Friday by the Washington Free Beacon‘s Adam Kredo, starts by invoking a passage from the Quran: “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of God and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know but whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of God will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.”

On its English language website Friday, the Brotherhood struck a dramatically different tone in an article in which it “Reiterates Commitment to Non-Violence.”

“The Brotherhood should not have to – every day – reiterate its constants, its strategic stance and chosen path of civil peaceful struggle to restore legitimacy…,” it said.

It does when it posts a call to prepare for jihad invoking assembling the “steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of God.”

The English posting says Brothers who stray from non-violence “no longer belong in the Brotherhood, and the group no longer accepts them, no matter what they do or say.”

As the IPT has shown, offering mixed messages in Arabic and English is routine for the Brotherhood.

On Thursday, a speaker on a Brotherhood-affiliated television station warned foreign tourists and business interests to leave Egypt next month, or risk becoming a “target for the revolutionary punishment movements.” A similar statement was posted on Facebook.

The dueling statements come just after the four-year anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak and led to the Brotherhood’s rise to dominate Egyptian government in his wake. But that rule was short-lived, as President Mohamed Morsi was forced from office by Egypt’s army in July 2013, after millions took to the streets to protest the government’s performance.

This week, dozens of people were killed in protests marking the 2011 revolution. A delegation of exiled Brotherhood officials visited Washington this week, urging support to return Morsi to power.

It was in that context that the Arabic call for jihad was published. According to the Free Beacon, it invoked Brotherhood founding ideologue Hasan al-Banna, who “prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers…”

“For everyone must be aware that we are in the process of a new phase,” the statement concludes, “in which we summon what of our power is latent within us, and we call to mind the meaning of Jihad, and prepare ourselves and our children, wives and daughters, and whoever marches on our path for a long, unrelenting Jihad. We ask in it the abodes of the martyrs.”

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The Last Refuge:

As Predicted – Muslim Brotherhood Calls For Open Jihad Against President Fattah al-Sisi In Egypt….

Why do they hate al-Sisi so much?

◾Disbanded the Muslim Brotherhood as a political terror entity. (link) (link)
◾Arrested those who burned churches and attacked Coptic Christians. (link) (link)
◾Jailed or banished the extremist forces. (link)
◾Supported Israel’s right to exist and defend it’s borders. (link) (link)
◾Defeated Hamas in the border region. (link) (link)
◾Destroyed the border terror tunnels used by Hamas (link) (link)
◾Pressured Hamas and the PA to negotiate the ceasefire, and forced the PA and Hamas to assemble ONE negotiating group for their interests. (link) (link)
◾Fought extremism in the Sinai region, and fought against ISIS infiltration.
◾Fought the Libyan new al-Qaeda network “Libyan Dawn”. (link)
◾Charged and prosecuted the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, who fled to Qatar. (link)

◾Followed the MB to Qatar and initiated sanctions against Qatar until they stopped financing and harboring terror. (link)
◾Formed a coalition against Qatar including the UAE and Saudi Arabia who withdrew their ambassadors and isolated Qatar in the region. (link) (link)
◾Won reelection with almost 70% of the vote. (link) (link ) (link)
◾Holds an 80%+ job approval rating among ALL Egyptians. (link)
◾Shut down Qatar financed Al Jazerra propaganda machine. (link)
◾Supported the framework for a new constitution which supports minority protections. (link)
◾Won a victory against Qatar as they finally conceded and stopped safeguarding terrorists. Sending the MB leadership to the new safe harbor of Turkey. (link)
◾United the moderate (non violent) Arab coalition, the Gulf Security Council, and constructed a unity principle that supports the safety of Jordan and formed a coalition to defend if needed. (link)
◾Faced down and quietly defeated Turkey’s bid for a security council seat in the United Nations. (link) (link)
◾Negotiated a safe passage coalition for Israel and Greece to form an energy based economic trade agreement.
◾Continues to fight the Islamist extremists inside Libya. (link) (link)
◾Continues to fight ISIS in the Northern Sinai region. (link) (link) (link)
◾Expanded the border safety zone with Gaza to insure greater control and protection from weapons smuggling. (link)

Open Jihad Declared in Egypt Following State Dept. Meeting with Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Jan. 30, 2015:

The Muslim Brotherhood called for “a long, uncompromising jihad” in Egypt just one day after a delegation of the Islamist group’s key leaders and allies met with the State Department, according to an official statement released this week.

Just days after a delegation that included two top Brotherhood leaders was hosted at the State Department, the organization released an official statement calling on its supporters to “prepare” for jihad, according to an independent translation of the statement first posted on Tuesday.

The statement also was issued just two days before a major terror attack Thursday in Egypt’s lawless Sinai region that killed at least 25.

“It is incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are in the process of a new phase, where we summon what is latent in our strength, where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom,” it states.

Preparation for jihad is a key theme of the Brotherhood’s latest call for jihad.

An image posted with the statement shows two crossing swords and the word “prepare!” between them. Below the swords it reads, “the voice of truth, strength, and freedom.” According to the statement, “that is the motto of the Dawa of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The statement also invokes the well-known Muslim cleric Imam al-Bana, who founded the Brotherhood and has called for the death of Jews.

Imam al-Bana prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers and the second [Supreme] Guide Hassan al-Hudaybi reconstructed the ‘secret apparatus’ to bleed the British occupiers,” the statement says.

The Brotherhood’s renewed call for jihad comes at a time when current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is cracking down on the group and imprisoning many of its supporters, who notoriously engaged in violence following the ouster of Brotherhood-ally Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt experts said the timing of this declaration is an embarrassment for the State Department.

“The fact that the Brotherhood issued its call to jihad two days after its meeting at the State Department will be grist for endless anti-American conspiracy theories about a supposed partnership between Washington and the Brotherhood,” said Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). “The State Department should have foreseen what an embarrassment this would be.”

One member of that U.S. delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

“Now in the U.S. State Department. Your steadfastness impresses everyone,” reads an Arabic caption posted along with the photo.

Other members of that group included Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.

When asked on Tuesday evening to comment on the meeting, a State Department official told theWashington Free Beacon, “We meet with representatives from across the political spectrum in Egypt.”

The official declined to elaborate on who may have been hosted or on any details about the timing and substance of any talks.

The meeting was described by a member of the delegation, Maha Azzam as “fruitful,” according to one person who attended a public event in Washington earlier this week hosted by the group.

The call for jihad, while surprising in light of the Brotherhood’s attempts to appear moderate, is part and parcel of organization’s longstanding beliefs, Trager said.

“Muslim Brothers have been committing violent acts for a very long time,” Trager explained. “Under Morsi, Muslim Brothers tortured protesters outside the presidential palace. After Morsi’s ouster, they have frequently attacked security forces and state property. “

“But until now, the official line from the Brotherhood was to support this implicitly by justifying its causes, without justifying the acts themselves,” he added. “ So the Brotherhood’s open call to jihad doesn’t necessarily mean a tactical shift, but a rhetorical one.”

Terrorism expert and national security reporter Patrick Poole said he was struck by the clarity of the Brotherhood’s call.

“It invokes the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist past, specifically mentioning the ‘special apparatus’ that waged terror in the 1940s and 1950s until the Nasser government cracked down on the group, as well as the troops sent by founder Hassan al-Banna to fight against Israel in 1948,” he said.

“It concludes saying that the Brotherhood has entered a new stage, warns of a long jihad ahead, and to prepare for martyrdom,” Poole said. “Not sure how much more clear they could be.”

Poole wondered if the call for jihad would convince Brotherhood apologists that the group still backs violence.

“What remains to be seen is how this announcement will be received inside the Beltway, where the vast majority of the ‘experts’ have repeatedly said that the Brotherhood had abandoned its terrorist past, which it is now clearly reviving, and had renounced violence,” Poole said. “Will this development be met with contrition, or silence? And what says the State Department who met with these guys this week?”

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders Hosted at State Department

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Jan. 28, 2015

The State Department hosted a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned leaders this week for a meeting about their ongoing efforts to oppose the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who rose to power following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the Brotherhood, in 2013.

One member of the delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

That delegation member, Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and a spokesman for Judges for Egypt, a group reported to have close ties to the Brotherhood.

The delegation also includes Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.

Sharaby, the Brotherhood-aligned judge, flashed the Islamist group’s popular symbol in his picture at the State Department and wrote in a caption: “Now in the U.S. State Department. Your steadfastness impresses everyone,” according to an independent translation of the Arabic.

Screen-Shot-2015-01-27-at-2.43.16-PM

Another member of the delegation, Maha Azzam, confirmed during an event hosted Tuesday by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID)—another group accused of having close ties to the Brotherhood—that the delegation had “fruitful” talks with the State Department.

Maha Azzam confirms that ‘anti-coup’ delegation, which includes 2 top [Muslim Brothers], had ‘fruitful’ conversations at State Dept,” Egypt expert Eric Trager tweeted.

Assam also said that the department expressed openness to engagement, according to one person who attended the event.

Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), said that the State Department is interested in maintaining a dialogue with the Brotherhood due to its continued role in the Egyptian political scene.

“The State Department continues to speak with Muslim Brothers on the assumption that Egyptian politics are unpredictable, and the Brotherhood still has some support in Egypt,” he said. “But when pro-Brotherhood delegations then post photos of themselves making pro-Brotherhood gestures in front of the State Department logo, it creates an embarrassment for the State Department.”

When asked to comment on the meeting Tuesday evening, a State Department official said, “We meet with representatives from across the political spectrum in Egypt.”

The official declined to elaborate on who may have been hosted or on any details about the timing and substance of any talks.

Samuel Tadros, an Egypt expert and research fellow at the Hudson Institute who is familiar with the delegation, said that the visit is meant to rally support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s ongoing efforts against to oppose Sisi.

“I think the Muslim Brotherhood visit serves two goals,” Tadros said. “First, organizing the pro Muslim Brotherhood movement in the U.S. among the Egyptian and other Arab and Muslim communities.”

“Secondly, reaching out to administration and the policy community in D.C.,” Tadros said. “The delegation’s composition includes several non-official Muslim Brotherhood members to portray an image of a united Islamist and non-Islamist revolutionary camp against the regime.”

The delegation held several public events this week in Maryland and Virginia, according to invitations that were sent out.

Patrick Poole, a terrorism expert and national security reporter, said the powwow at the State Department could be a sign that the Obama administration still considers the Brotherhood politically viable, despite its ouster from power and a subsequent crackdown on its members by Egyptian authorities.

“What this shows is that the widespread rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, particularly the largest protests in recorded human history in Egypt on June 30, 2013, that led to Morsi’s ouster, is not recognized by the State Department and the Obama administration,” Poole said.

“This is a direct insult to our Egyptian allies, who are in an existential struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood, all in the pursuit of the mythical ‘moderate Islamists’ who the D.C. foreign policy elite still believe will bring democracy to the Middle East,” Poole said.

Four years on from Egypt’s uprising, are Copts better off?

Voice of the Copts, by Asma Ajroudi-Al Arabiya News, Jan.25, 2015
coptic-christians

coptic-christians

It has been four years since hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square in a popular uprising that ousted then-president Hosni Mubarak.

Like the majority of Egyptians living under Mubarak’s 30-decade rule, Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who account for estimated 10 percent of the country’s 85 million population, demanded change.
But as Egypt marks its fourth anniversary of the Jan.25 revolution, many within Egypt’s Christian minority say the country is now better off. In fact the situation for Egypt’s Christians is “better than what it was under the Muslim Brotherhood rule, Hosni Mubarak, and even their predecessors,” according to Charl Fouad El-Masri, editor-in-chief of Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.
While the Mubarak state promoted itself as one of coexistence, the regime cracked down on building new churches and Christian worship sites. Christians were seldom assigned to leading positions in the government and especially in the military, in what many critics described as an official discrimination by the state. And like Muslim Egyptians, a significant number of Christians lived under poverty line and worried about unemployment and lack of freedoms.
But with the rise of religious extremism in the Arab world in the 1970s and with the emergence of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda calling Arab Christians “legitimate targets,” the Christian minority found itself a target of violent sectarian attacks and a victim of an indifferent state. The 2011 revolution coincided with the deadliest year of sectarian violence in decades, including the bombing of an Alexandria church and the killing of two dozen Coptic protesters by Egyptian security forces.
Following the fall of the Mubarak regime and the beginnings of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi’s rule, however, security became a pressing priority in Christians’ demands. Attacks on Copts, who make 95 percent of Egypt’s Christian population, and their institutions have been widely reported on by the national and international media.
The emergence of ultra-conservative groups in post-revolution Egypt brought about a new wave of sectarian clashes that the government, according to critics, did not pay attention to. In 2013, a video emerged online showing Egyptian police standing idly by as a mob attacked a cathedral during a mass funeral.
“Egypt’s Copts suffered during the Muslim Brotherhood rule greatly,” El-Masri added.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won the majority of seats in the 2011 parliamentary election; and its member Mursi became Egypt’s fifth president in June 2012.
Mursi’s decree, which granted him unlimited powers, reports about violent crackdowns on journalists, liberals and demonstrators were among many issues that brought thousands of Egyptians back out on the streets calling for the president’s resignation. On June 30, 2013, and in response to the new wave of clashes that paralyzed Egypt, the Egyptian army, led by General Abdelfattah al-Sisi, ousted Mursi.
Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood was pronounced a “terrorist organization,” and its members became targets of a violent state crackdown, resulting in hundreds of deaths among Mursi supporters. Sisi became Egypt’s president on June 8, 2014.
“The outcome of the January 25 uprising was a disaster for Egyptian Christians who participated in the uprising as citizens of Egypt demanding democracy and liberty,” said Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, the founder and president of Voice of the Copts.
“When the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group achieved power, it became a nightmare not only for Christians but for anyone opposed to them,” Ramelah added.
Under Mursi, Egypt’s Christians were “unwanted, targeted, and about to face the same terror Iraqi and Syrian Christians face under Islamist terrorism there.”
“I feel Egypt would have gone in that exact direction if the Egyptian army had overlooked the people’s demands to overthrow Mursi,” Ramelah added.
Recently, Sisi has promised to rebuild damaged churches in the country.
Also see: