Archive | Egypt

Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy in Sinai: challenges and failures

by: Khalil al-Anani

Egypt has been fighting terrorism and an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for the past decade and a half with no sign of a decisive victory. Although the Egyptian military has conducted several military operations against radicals and extremists, it has not been able to eliminate or defeat them. Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy, particularly in Sinai, is flawed and counterproductive. Instead of eliminating and rooting out terrorism, it has created fertile ground for radical and militant groups to thrive, recruit new members, and intensify their attacks against the Egyptian military and security forces as well as civilians. This has led to the loss of thousands of lives and created instability in Sinai.

Sinai’s dilemma

The Sinai Peninsula spans approximately 23,000 square miles and constitutes 6 percent of Egypt’s total land area. It has a small population of 550,000—out of Egypt’s total population of 100 million—and most of them (around 434,000) live in North Sinai where the insurgency is active, particularly in the cities of El-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Bir al-Abed. The population of North Sinai is composed of a complex mix of tribes and families in which Bedouins represent about 70 percent of the total population. The rest includes residents of Palestinian origin, migrants from Egypt’s mainland, and a mix of Bosnians, Turks, and other ethnicities who settled in Al-Arish during the Ottoman era (10 percent).

Over the past decades, the North Sinai region has suffered from a number of political, economic, social, and development problems. Issues of marginalization, unemployment, poor governance, poverty and, most recently, repression and displacement have alienated the Bedouin and other residents of Sinai and increased their grievances. According to some reports, the Sinai region has one of Egypt’s highest unemployment rates, with less than 50 percent of its people employed. According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, poverty in Sinai reached 38.4 percent in 2018. In addition, about 70 percent of Sinai’s population does not have access to water. These problems have been largely ignored by the central government in Cairo.

Over the past decades, the North Sinai region has suffered from a number of political, economic, social, and development problems.

Furthermore, the Egyptian government has always perceived Sinai as a security threat and dealt with the Bedouin population with suspicion, treating them as second-class citizens. For decades, the Bedouin have been accused of collaborating with Israel, particularly after its occupation of Sinai in 1967, and hence, they are perceived as not trustworthy. In fact, most of the Bedouin do not hold Egyptian citizenship and have not been politically represented until recently. In addition, they are not allowed to join the army, the police, and military academies or to hold senior positions in the government. Securitizing the government’s problems with the Bedouin has turned Sinai into a security dilemma and a headache for all Egyptian administrations. Neither of the regimes of Hosni Mubarak or Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has tackled the root causes of this dilemma. In fact the opposite has been true: their harsh and brutal policies against the Bedouin and the residents of Sinai have alienated these populations. This has enabled militant groups to thrive, recruit followers, and expand their activities and influence all over the North Sinai region.

The roots of Sinai’s insurgency

The problem of terrorism and insurgency in Sinai has lingered for years. It began under the Mubarak regime when militant Islamists conducted a series of deadly attacks in TabaSharm el-Sheikh, and Dahab and in the South Sinai Governorate during 2004-2006, killing and wounding hundreds of people (and particularly foreign tourists who were visiting these cities). The attacks were carried out by a radical group called al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad (Unification and Struggle) whose members included Bedouin and men of Palestinian origin in North Sinai, specifically Al-Arish district. These attacks ushered a new era of insurgency and terrorism that Egypt has never experienced before, even at the height of the terrorism wave in the 1980s and 1990s. Mubarak’s security policy in confronting militants in Sinai exacerbated the problem and created grievances among the Bedouin and local residents. For example, following these attacks, the security forces arrested thousands of the Bedouin and the Sinai residents, including women and children. The regime used them as “a bargaining chip to secure the surrender of the male tribal member—an unforgivable and unforgettable violation of tribal traditions.” While Mubarak’s security forces arrested and killed some of the leaders of the al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad group, other members remained at large and sought revenge from the regime.

After the uprising of 2011, radicals and extremists in Sinai regrouped and established different networks such as the well-known Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) group. Between February 2011 and June 2013, ABM conducted attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border and targeted the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel several times. However, after the coup of 2013, ABM began targeting Egyptian military and security forces not only in Sinai but also in Egypt’s mainland. For example, on December 24, 2013, the group bombed the police headquarters in Cairo, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than a hundred others.

February 2011 and June 2013, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) conducted attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border and targeted the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel several times.

In November 2014, ABM joined the Islamic State (IS), gave allegiance to former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and changed its name to Wilayat Sina. Over the past seven years, Wilayat Sina has carried out several deadly and massive attacks against the Egyptian army, security forces, and civilians which claimed the lives of thousands of people. For example, in October 2015 the group claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airplane, which killed all 224 people aboard. It also attacked Al-Rawdah mosque in the city of Bir al-Abed, killing more than 300 people in November 2017. Moreover, media reports claim that Wilayat Sina controls five towns in Bir al-Abed’s vicinity—Rabaa, Katiya, Aktiya, Janayen, and Merih. If true, it would be a dramatic shift in the group’s tactics that would pose a serious challenge to the Egyptian government and its western allies. For its part, according to some reports, the Egyptian military and security forces have killed over 7,000 militants and arrested around 27,000 as of a year ago.

Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy

Since he assumed power in 2014, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi adopted a heavily militarized strategy in dealing with the insurgency in Sinai. Its aim was to eliminate the activities of militant groups, particularly Wilayat Sina, and uproot the insurgency from the peninsula. To achieve this, the Egyptian military conducted military operations in the cities of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, and Al-Arish. These operations followed three phases: the first began in October 2014 after Sisi declared a state of emergency in northeastern Sinai that included Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid, Al-Arish, and many villages on the Egyptian border with Gaza. The operation focused on the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, where the Egyptian military attempted to eliminate the militants’ activities there by creating a buffer zone of 1,000 meters on the Gaza-Rafah border. This military operation led to the destruction of more than 1,500 homes, the razing of hundreds of hectares of farmland, and the forced and illegal displacement of around 3,200 families of Bedouin and residents of both cities.

The second phase started on September 3, 2015 after Wilayat Sina launched a major attack using a Kornet missile attack on a navy ship. On September 7, 2015, Sisi’s regime started another military operation called “The Martyr’s Right,” described by the Egyptian media as the “largest and most comprehensive operation aimed at rooting out and killing ‘terrorists’.” As Egypt’s media amplified the operation and praised its success in eliminating the insurgency in Sinai, Wilayat Sina intensified its attacks against the Egyptian military and security forces, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of officers and civilians over the following years.

Recently, the Sisi government changed its tactics in fighting the insurgency in Sinai. In addition to the military offensive, it attempted to attract and co-opt some of the tribal leaders in order to fight alongside the Egyptian army.

Phase three began in February 2018 when the Egyptian army launched a “comprehensive military campaign,” dubbed “Operation Sinai 2018,” that aimed to “purge the country of terrorists.” Recently, the Sisi government changed its tactics in fighting the insurgency in Sinai. In addition to the military offensive, it attempted to attract and co-opt some of the tribal leaders in order to fight alongside the Egyptian army. Some media reports pointed to an agreement between the Egyptian army and some of the elder leaders of the Tarabin, Swarka, and Rumailat tribes. However, while the Egyptian government claims that the current campaign has weakened and eliminated the insurgency in Sinai, the reality on the ground does not support that claim. Over the past two years, not only has Wilayat Sinai conducted sophisticated attacks against the military and police forces but it also extended its activities to other areas such as Bir al-Abed and the surrounding villages. Moreover, it has acquired more advanced equipment and developed its guerrilla war tactics.  As Omar Ashour states, “the Sinai insurgency has grown from mainly an urban terrorism campaign of bombing soft targets … to a structured, low-to-mid level insurgency, aiming primarily for ‘hard’ targets.”

A failed strategy?

Egypt has been fighting terrorism in Sinai for many years with no sign of an end or of a decisive success. Therefore, some analysts argue that Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy has been focusing on containing the insurgency in Sinai rather than eradicating and uprooting it.

Despite the fact that the problem of terrorism in the peninsula began during Mubarak’s era, it has worsened under Sisi’s regime for many reasons. First, Sisi adopted a highly security-oriented strategy in fighting the insurgency without acknowledging the political, social, and economic aspects of the situation in Sinai. His counterinsurgency policies have exacerbated the challenges there and created many other problems. Second, this strategy is largely driven by revenge, collective punishment, and a pressing desire to achieve quick success against the repeated attacks of Wilayat Sina, instead of being based on a long-term vision that seeks to tackle the root causes of the Sinai problem. Third, the Egyptian military and security forces have committed grave human rights violations against the Bedouin and other Sinai residents, and these policies have fueled alienation and rage. According to a detailed and comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch, “the Egyptian military and police have carried out systematic and widespread arbitrary arrests—including of children—enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, collective punishment, and forced evictions” in Sinai. Fourth, the displacement of thousands of the Bedouin and local residents in Sinai has increased their grievances and radicalized some of them, spurring many to join militant groups in order to take revenge against the regime. Finally, using tribes in the fight against the insurgency has created many problems as some of their members are regularly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the militants.

The Egyptian military and security forces have committed grave human rights violations against the Bedouin and other Sinai residents, and these policies have fueled alienation and rage.

Egypt’s counterterrorism strategy in Sinai has failed miserably in eliminating the danger of terrorism. In fact, it has been proven to be counterproductive and has deepened the serious and dangerous situation in Sinai instead of resolving it. This raises many questions about the competence of Sisi’s government and its ability to fight terrorism effectively.

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World-Renowned Actors, Filmmakers, and Writers Call on Egyptian Authorities to Release Sanaa Seif

World-Renowned Actors, Filmmakers, and Writers Call on Egyptian Authorities to Release Sanaa Seif

By : Jadaliyya Reports

Over two hundred of the world’s most prominent artists, along with nearly two dozen leading human rights groups and film organizations, are calling for the immediate release of Sanaa Seif, a film editor arrested in Cairo last month.

Among the signatories to a public statement published on Tuesday, August 4th are Juliette Binoche, Laurent Cantet, Noam Chomsky, JM Coetzee, Judi Dench, Claire Denis, Dave Eggers, Danny Glover, Paul Greengrass, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Hall, Naomie Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Anish Kapoor, Naomi Klein, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Paul Mason, Simon McBurney, Ruth Negga, Thandie Newton, Michael Ondaatje, Philip Pullman, Miranda Richardson, Andrea Riseborough, Arundhati Roy, and Stellan Skarsgård. 

In addition to Seif, the statement calls on Egyptian authorities to release “all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights,” and to “end the abuse of pre-trial detention” as well as a “global assertion of the rights of all people to live in dignity and justice.” 

Leading advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, PEN International, Human Rights Watch and Reprieve, have also signed onto the letter, as have prominent film organizations, including Sundance Institute, IDFA, the European Film Academy and Société des Réalisateurs de Films.

Campaigners are inviting artists and members of the public to sign on to the call at:

www.freedomfor.network/sanaa 

Seif was abducted by plainclothes security forces in front of the public prosecutor’s office in Cairo on June 23rd, where she had arrived to file a complaint as a victim of a physical assault and robbery that occurred in front of the Tora prison complex the day before. She is currently being held in pretrial detention, a widespread practice used by Egyptian authorities to keep thousands locked up for months or years without ever being convicted of a crime. 

A new video on the case of Sanaa Seif was published on freedomfor.network on Tuesday, August 4th at 9am GMT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSY8LhPt0AI&feature=emb_title

A film editor, writer, and activist, Seif worked on the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square, and the award-winning film In the Last Days of the City. Her brother, Alaa Abd El Fattah — a prominent figure of the 2011 revolution—was released from prison last year, after serving a five-year sentence on trumped-up charges. Upon his release, he had to turn himself into a police station for 12 hours every day, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m, as part of an additional five-year probationary sentence. He was re-arrested in September, and remains behind bars in pretrial detention. 

Seif and Abd El Fattah are among thousands of activists, artists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ+ people, writers, publishers, librarians, and translators held in prison in Egypt today.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, human rights groups have documented multiple cases of COVID-19 inside Egypt’s crowded prisons as well as several deaths. In March, the Ministry of Interior banned all prison visits and thousands of detainees have little to no communication with their families in nearly five months.

For additional information, including the full public statement, list of signatories, background information, video material, and photos visit: https://www.freedomfor.network/sanaa/ 

For media inquiries email: freedomforsanaa@gmail.com

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EGYPT AND FRANCE CARRY OUT NAVAL DRILL AS SHOW OF FORCE TO TURKEY

Egypt and France Carry Out Naval Drill As Show Of Force To Turkey

On July 25th, the Egyptian and French Navies held naval drills in the eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of the Egyptian Ghost frigate and French Ghost frigate (ACONIT).

In a statement, the Egyptian Armed Forces reported the following:

“The exercises included many training activities that focus on methods of organizing cooperation in the implementation of combat missions in the sea against hostile marine formations with the actual use of weapons in engagement with surface and air targets in addition to the implementation of confrontational battles, with the use of aircraft.”

The statement further said:

“The training showed the professionalism of the crews of ships in carrying out combat missions with accuracy and high efficiency, with a focus on common coordination points between all the common elements.”

It added that “these drills come in the framework of supporting the pillars of joint cooperation between the Egyptian and French armed forces, and identifying the latest fighting systems and methods in a manner that contributes to honing skills and combat and operational experiences and supporting efforts of maritime security, stability and peace in the Mediterranean.”

This is a show of force at a time when Egypt and France, alongside Greece and Cyprus are opposed to Turkey over its interference in Libya, but mostly due to the agreement it signed with Libya’s Government of National Accord.

The agreement allows Turkey to extract resources from Libya’s EEZ in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the face of the actions of Turkey, France and Egypt had a recent rethinking of their relations, which have apparently grown closer in the face of a “common enemy.”

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Egypt: Rabaa field doctor: ‘They burned them dead and alive’

Dr Hanan Al-Amin

Dr Hanan Al-Amin

Dr. Hanan Al-Amin was in a makeshift operating room in the Rabaa field hospital when security forces burst into the room and ordered her and another doctor to leave. A patient was on the table with his abdomen open – they had found six bullets in his liver, his spleen and his diaphragm.

She told the officer that she couldn’t leave her patients, pointing to three other people in front of her. He took his gun and shot each one of them in the heart.

“At that point I lost the ability to think,” she recalls. “All I could think is that there is no way this person is a human being, there’s no way we’re in Egypt, there’s no way these are my people,” says Al-Amin and begins to cry at the memory.

“My life paused on 14 August 2013” she says eventually. “I can’t move on to the 15th, my life agenda stopped on that day.”

It was four years ago today that security forces advanced on protesters in Rabaa Square who had gathered to protest against the ouster of the country’s first elected president Mohamed Morsi.

For 12 long hours snipers fired indiscriminately into the crowd, bulldozers crushed the camp beneath their tracks and security forces set fire to the tents.

Once they had massacred as many demonstrators as they could they turned to the field hospital where a number of doctors including Al-Amin were volunteering. Some 1,000 people died that day.

Protesters begun congregating roughly one and a half months before the massacre. Al-Amin lived opposite and in the beginning would go for a few hours a day before or after work at the University of Zagazig, where she was a paediatrics professor.

As the days went by and the protesters continued to demand their rights she decided to commit herself to serving in the square. Al-Amin began to feel it was the nation’s cause and the future of her children.

Read: Remembering the Rabaa massacre

“I wanted to set an example for people to volunteer,” she says, “for peaceful demonstrations and to rescue the country and demand a better life for the people.”

As top of her school, not just her class, when she was young Al-Amin was confident she could be a good doctor. But nothing she had learnt at school or university could prepare her for what she saw in the square that day.

“Never for one second did I imagine throughout the whole time of studying and being a doctor for 30 years that I’d have to treat the severity of the wounds I saw in Rabaa,” she says. “I saw what was done to Palestinians during the Nakba by the Israeli occupation but I never thought I would see Egyptians doing it to their own people.”

“I never thought that I’d see so many people who are protesting and demanding their rights be wounded by their own army and police who are put in place to defend them,” she adds.

A file photo dated July 26, 2013 shows an aerial view of Rabia Adaweya Square where tens of thousands people protest against the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency]

A file photo dated July 26, 2013 shows an aerial view of Rabia Adaweya Square where tens of thousands people protest against the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency]

In the days before the massacre Al-Amin herself participated in the demonstrations. In the afternoons, when most people were resting, they organised women’s marches to help motivate others. She would go out for an hour or so then come back and continue working. “They were my way to recharge,” she recalls.

“I felt like the demonstrations were really what kept everything alive in the square. On some days when I didn’t go out I could see them and it would give me motivation and I would wish I was out there with them. We saw all the marches and protests that started at Rabaa or anywhere else as a form of reviving our intention and hope.”

A lot of the doctors in the field hospital were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood but not all of them, she says. The director of the hospital, for example, was not; there were also groups among the protesters who simply believed in Egyptians’ right to live freely.

“Everyone believed in the people’s rights to express their opinion and people’s right to self-determination,” she continues. “We believed in our right to exercise democracy, that the Egyptian people that wowed everyone with their revolution have the right to live their lives in the way they want to.”

But this was not enough to save people that day.

The massacre began at 7am and from the start Al-Amin and her colleagues worked tirelessly to try to treat the wounded. By around 3pm there was barely any medication left, she recalls, not even pain killers. “I was just standing there helpless, I couldn’t do anything. In those moments I hated myself and hated medicine. I just hated everything,” she says.

Terrified children had gathered in the mosque in search of safety but were suffocating from the tear gas. Ambulances were prevented from entering the square: “It was a war zone,” she says. “The whole aim behind that was to instil fear and intimidate the people. They declared genocide on us that day.”

Hospitals around Rabaa square were equipped but Al-Amin says they were given direct orders from authorities not only to block the ambulances but prohibit them from admitting patients. Even the surrounding pharmacies were instructed not to supply medication.

As Al-Amin was escorted out of the field hospital by the man who shot her patients, a young boy called out to her not to leave him. She didn’t dare to look at him in case he was shot too.

Outside she turned to see smoke rising out of the hospital, which was still full of wounded people. Security forces set fire to it – “they burned them dead and alive,” she says.

Al-Amin knows one doctor who was shot in the back and is now paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. But some of the doctors were spared that day. Perhaps God destined some of them to live so they could bear witness to the massacre, Al-Amin suggests. Or maybe the criminals were too busy killing the opposition.

Read: My daughter sacrificed her life for Egypt’s victory, dignity and prosperity says Asmaa Beltagy’s mother

Because people at the protests were so afraid of repercussions from authorities they smuggled their children’s bodies out of the square wrapped in cloth and hidden in baskets, and then buried them. Many did not wait for official death certificates as they were too scared their loved ones or siblings would be punished by association.

Some time after the massacre one of the officers admitted they had scooped up 700 bodies in the metal plate of a bulldozer and transported them to Gebel Al-Ahmar near Heliopolis and buried them, some dead and some still alive. That’s why Al-Amin believes the death toll is likely to be far higher than 1,000.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

Security forces had three clear goals on the 14 August 2013, she reflects. First, they wanted to eliminate everyone who was there; second they wanted to send a message of fear and intimidation to anyone else who was considering opposing the regime. Finally, they wanted to portray this as a military victory.

What they’ve succeeded in doing, says Al-Amin, is splitting society in two. “One half has been killed and the other half is happy they’ve been killed,” she says. “The split that emerged will take years, if not decades, to heal.

“Anyone who was involved will be punished,” she continues. “We will see them punished in this life time in order for the people to heal.”

As for the international community, “they stood watching silently from 7am to 6pm while not Muslims but the human race were being burnt and killed and murdered before the eyes and ears of the world. That day is a day of shame and disgrace for humanity as a whole,” she reiterates.

“As a paediatrician I have never loved and hated a profession more than on the day of Rabaa. I felt the true value of medicine. I loved my profession because I felt the value of it but I also hated it so much because I’ve never felt so helpless. I never thought that I’d ever be a helpless doctor. I never thought I’d see a patient in front of me without being able to treat them.”

The effects of Rabaa will be felt for years to come, she says. Some people were so afraid of the government their children weren’t treated in the aftermath and are suffering the psychological effects today. Some have been orphaned; many have fathers in prison.

“I am certain that the children who were in Rabaa are our strategic treasure,” says Al-Amin, “because after witnessing Rabaa they will refuse to live as slaves”.

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Egypt: At 14 Haitham was one of youngest political prisoners: ‘They forgot I was a child’

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim. Four years on from his arrest one of Egypt’s child political prisoners Haitham Abdel Rahim recalls 50 days of torture.

By: Amelia Smith

At 2 am on 3 October 2015 Osama Abdel Rahim had just returned home from work and was taking a shower. His elderly grandmother was in her room, his mother and father were out, and his older and younger brothers were asleep.

He stepped out of the bathroom to see ten masked officers and four plain-clothed police in the hallway.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

“Where’s Haitham?” one of them asked. He paused as he tried to register what was going on, then pointed towards his brother’s bedroom.

Inside the room Haitham, who was then just 14 years old, woke up to see a tall, angry man with a huge moustache surrounded by officers holding machine guns.

“Are you Haitham?” he asked. He lent closer and whispered in his ear: “I know you have a nickname and I know you attend and lead protests. I know everything.”

The officers instructed the boys to get their phones, following them from room to room as they collected them. Amr was reluctant to give his up – he hadn’t deleted his images from the Rabaa sit-in two years before and he knew the Egyptian government was taking punitive measures against any member of the opposition.

In its crackdown the regime has not distinguished between young and old, in fact thousands of children have been arrested since the coup and are tried alongside adults. According to the London based human rights organisation Reprieve, death sentences have been issued to ten children under the regime of current President and coup leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Read: Husband and son in prison. Daughter shot in Rabaa. Asmaa Beltagi’s mum speaks on the massacre

When they had collected their mobiles the officer with the moustache said he would take Haitham downstairs to talk to him for five minutes. When Amr, then 20, protested they took him as well.

It was dawn by then, around about time for the fajr prayer. Inside the microbus Haitham looked around at the other passengers – some were his friends who had been forcibly disappeared a week before.

They pulled away from his apartment and then stopped outside another friend’s house. The boys waited downstairs as the officers went inside and arrested him also. As the bus left they looked out of the back window and saw his mother crying and running behind the van, begging the officers not to take her son.

After making several further arrests they eventually arrived at Nasr City police station where the boys were bundled into the state security investigation room known as the fridge. It was big enough for five people but there were more than 20 detainees inside, recalls Haitham. Nobody knew where they were there for the first 40 days of their arrest – it wasn’t until 9 November that they were brought before the state prosecutor.

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim (R) in 2015, (L) in 2019

Former Egyptian child prisoner Haitham Abdel Rahim (R) in 2015, (L) in 2019

Under Egyptian Child Law children under the age of 15 cannot be placed in detention without legal grounds. Egypt has also signed up for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that calls for freedom from abuse for children, but this mattered little to Egyptian authorities who allowed Haitham and the other detainees out to use the bathroom twice a week and for the rest of the time gave them plastic bottles to urinate into. There were no mattresses, duvets or pillows.

On the third day prison officers blindfolded them and took them one by one out of the room. When they returned each told the others they had been tortured with electric shocks.

Haitham was sleeping when his turn came. “Tell us everything you’ve memorised since your birth up until the moment you came here,” the officer asked him.

Read: UN backs out of torture conference in Egypt after pressure from rights groups

The next day Haitham returned to the fridge to see his eldest brother Ahmed, a dentist, who he says never attended the protests. “The police came back to the house, took all the laptops and arrested me as well,” Ahmed told him.

On the sixth day Amr was taken from the fridge. When he didn’t return over an hour later Haitham grew increasingly worried. “I heard his voice, he sounded scared and broken,” he recalls.

They came back for Haitham and covered his eyes again. “Tell us all your friends names and where they live or we will do to you what we did to your brother.”

The policeman began to read out a list of names. Haitham recognised one and the policeman said that he would never go home again if he did not tell them where he lived. “I didn’t know his home address,” he recalls.

“At last and sadly, out of my fear of torture, I had to tell him about one of my friends who was two years older than me. His only crime was to protest against tyranny. They took me in a police car while covering my eyes, and then they removed the cover and asked me to guide them to my friend’s house, and I did.”

Sisi Era - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Sisi Era – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

But they still didn’t release Haitham.

On the seventh day in the fridge Haitham and Amr were blindfolded and once again bundled into a minibus. When the doors opened for them to get out they heard dogs barking, police were pushing them and shouting. Haitham took off his blindfold to look at where he was.

“I saw a scene I’ve only seen in horror movies. I saw detainees lined up on the left and right with signs of torture all over their bodies, some were completely naked.”

One of the detainees saw him remove his blindfold: “Quick, cover your eyes,” he said. “There are cameras everywhere, they might harm you.”“Where are we?” Haitham asked someone else.

“Don’t speak to me,” he replied. “We will both be tortured.”

Read: Egypt detains ex-advisor to Palestine’s Arafat

Haitham learnt later that they were in the state security building in the Lazoughly district of Cairo. One prisoner told him he had been blindfolded with his arms cuffed for 30 days, another for 50 days. The food was minimal, small pieces of bread and cheese, a spoonful of rice and beans.

“Your number is 33,” an officer came to him to say. “If they call 33 say I’m here.” Haitham could hear screaming and shouting. “Don’t worry you will leave tonight,” he told him, but Haitham stayed there for over a month, all the time cuffed to another person, wearing the same clothes, and blindfolded even whilst he was sleeping.

The officers didn’t care that he was only 14-years-old:

They forgot I was a child. I was crying, I was hungry and freezing, it was so cold, and they didn’t give us any cover.

Haitham remembers one of the officers who took pity on him and gave him two cans of juice. He gave one to his brother. “I will never forget Mr Mohammed, who was a kind officer who offered me once a cucumber and once dessert. Yes it seems funny but that meant a lot to me.”

Authorities wanted Haitham to admit he had distributed flyers against the Sisi regime, that he had spray painted anti-government slogans in the streets and that he was a member of the banned group, the Muslim Brotherhood: “He forced me to confess with a video looking at a camera and told me, never look at me while I’m recording you.”

By this time he had been beaten and one of the officers had promised to remove his clothes. He had been imprisoned with other adults, with criminals and political detainees, which is against the CRC.

One of the guards eventually asked for his father’s number and he came to collect him. “I hugged him while I was crying,” recalls Haitham. “I hadn’t seen him for 50 days. There was a camera recording us as well.”

Finally, all the brothers were allowed to return home, but the nightmare wasn’t over for the family. Several days later security forces came to their home to arrest Osama for a Facebook post he had written about his brothers Haitham and Amr.

After his release Haitham was traumatised and suffered nightmares. But he had to focus – he only had one month before his end of year exams. His family moved house, afraid he would be rearrested, and he studied at home in case he was kidnapped again: “That was difficult for me because I was a teenager, and I loved going out with friends. I studied at home, and I passed the exams.”

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Egypt: Rabaa Al-Adawiya massacre ‘the worst mass killing’

A file photo dated August 14, 2013 shows a supporter of Mohammed Morsi shouting as Egyptian security forces stormed the Rabaa Adawiyya sit-in in Cairo, Egypt. ( Mohammed Elshamy - Anadolu Agency )

A file photo dated August 14 2013 shows an Egyptian man in despair as Egyptian security forces stormed the Rabaa Adawiyya sit-in in Cairo, killing 1,000 people.

Human Rights Watch has said that the 2014 Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square massacre of civilian protesters by the Egyptian army remains the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history, New Khalij News reported on Tuesday.

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre

The rights group noted in a public statement that it had called repeatedly for an international investigation to be opened into the massacre. It also called for the legal authorities in other countries to investigate what happened in Cairo on 14 August 2013 and prosecute those responsible. There is also a case to put on trial those involved in the systematic torture and extrajudicial killing of protesters.

HRW reiterated that no government officials or security personnel have been investigated or prosecuted in Egypt for their part in the massacre, in which around 1,000 people were killed and another 4,000 were wounded. Many survivors of the army’s brutal assault, it added, were sentenced to death or long prison terms after “unfair trials”.

In August 2014, the organisation released the findings of a year-long investigation into the Rabaa Massacre and concluded that “the killings not only constituted serious violations of international human rights law, but likely amounted to crimes against humanity, given the widespread and systematic nature, and the evidence suggesting the killings were part of a policy.”

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REMEMBERING THE RABAA MASSACRE

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Remembering the Rabaa Massacre, Egypt

Seven years ago, on 14 August 2013, the Zionist puppet Sisi army stormed a sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa square and slaughtered more than 1,000 people who were protesting against the removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian opposition had been demonstrating outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo for 47 days when security forces attacked at around 6am on 14 August 2013.

Zionist puppet Sisi security forces shot indiscriminately into the crowd, set fire to the tents people had gathered in and threw tear gas into the masses. People were shot, burnt alive and suffocated with tear gas. Security forces blocked the entrances so that ambulances couldn’t get in to treat the wounded.

Despite the fact that the police and army opened fire and used excessive force, since that day not a single security officer has been brought to trial or been held accountable for the massacre.

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Egypt man locks his sister in a room for 22 years

An Egyptian man who locked his sister in a house for 22 years has been arrested

Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women (L) was kept locked up by her brother for 22 years
The small room in which Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women was forced to stay in by her brother for 22 years in Egypt, 4 July 2020 [masralarabia/Twitter]
The small room in which Fadia, a 56-year-old Egyptian women (R) was kept locked up by her brother for 22 years in Egypt, 4 July 2020 [masralarabia/Twitter]

An Egyptian man who locked his sister in a house for 22 years in Upper Egypt was detained pending investigation following the discovery, reports Egypt Independent.

Fadia Ismail’s imprisonment was discovered after neighbours reported her brother to the public prosecution.

After she was rescued, 56-year-old Fadia was examined by a doctor who reported she was suffering serious health issues due to her confinement.

Fadia suffered psychological and physical damage as a result of the ordeal.

READ: Egypt suspends Islamic preacher who says women are harassed due to tight clothing

A photo of Fadia published on Egypt Independent shows that she is severely malnourished.

For the final 11 months of her confinement her family completely neglected her, giving her little food.

Egypt Independent reported the man’s wife saying that Fadia had been locked up to stop her from running away. However, the Rassd news site said Fadia had been detained as a result of a dispute over money as she was owed money for her share of the family home.

Admitting to locking up his sister, Fadia’s brother said he had done so because she suffered mental health issues and he had to protect her.

Photos of the room where Fadia was kept, with a straw roof, a sand floor and a blanket or a rug in the corner.

The family live in the village of Tala in Minya, the capital of Upper Egypt, approximately 245 kilometres south of Cairo.

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Egypt’s Zionist. Sisi and UAE threaten Libyan intervention

Russian Mig-29 planes have been spotted in the rebel held air bases, while Turkey has moved in modern air defenses and combat drones, Erdogan going nose to nose with Putin

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor 

Egypt’s President warns of direct military intervention in Libya if Turkey continue to advance

…by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor …with PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: Poor Libya is now the poster child for how easy it is to fragment a tribal country with natural resources by pitting tribes against each other who then require foreign sponsorship for military support.

The UN shows once again how useless it is, due to the one veto that can stop any joint sanctions against a trouble making outside country trying to exploit the situation, when it has the support of one of the Security Council veto holders to protect it.

The UN recognized GNA government is only holding the Tripoli area so it can defend itself within interior lines. With the help of Turkish militia forces flown in from the Syrian militias, the GNA had been able to create a wider defensive shield and begin pushing east to take some of the coastal towns, including a major oil port. Turkish drones have played a key role.

We now learn 2600 of them have gone back to Turkey, a result of the GNA current coastal offensive, and Russian Mig-29 planes have been spotted in the rebel held air bases, so even Moscow has a hand in this mess. This puts Putin directly in conflict with Erdogan, when they already are head to head in Syria.

Russian Mig-29s in Libya

It appears that those supporting General Hadi in Benghazi are not happy with Tripoli moving in on what these outside parties consider to be ‘their interests’.

Egypt has made the incredible claim that the world would support its intervention as an act of self defense. You just can’t make this stuff up. It will be interesting to see which countries go public with General Sisi in this outrageous claim.

Unfortunately, in Libya everyone wants to control the oil revenue to be able to have their tribe take the biggest piece, hence they have been set upon each other to the benefit of foreign interventionists. We have seen this game played in Iraq and Syria …JD ]

– First published … June 21, 2020 –

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has warned of direct military intervention in Libya if Turkish-backed forces continue their advance.

Sisi said on Saturday the Libyan cities of Sirte and Jufra, which the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) is pushing to capture, are a red line for Egypt, warning the internationally recognized GNA not to cross the current front line with renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

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Libya: Zionist puppet Sisi threatens to intervene militarily

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

On 21 June 2020, after reviewing his troops, Zionist puppet Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said in a televised statement that a military intervention in support of the only elected Libyan authorities, those of the Tobruk Parliament, would be legitimate.

He explicitly threatened the al-Sarraj government, which is recognized by the United Nations.

The al-Sarraj government is made up of Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda jihadists who facilitated NATO’s overthrow of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2011.

In July 2013, after gigantic protests, Zionist puppet Abdel Fattah al-Sissi toppled President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies, who had rigged the Egyptian presidential elections the previous year. He was later confirmed as president by a regular election, but with low voter turnout.

Should the al-Sarraj government invade eastern Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood will no doubt resume their terrorist operations in Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Zio-Wahhabi have come to the support of Egypt in its fight against the Muslim Brotherhood.

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