Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2016, 14:47 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Egypt

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 April 2014
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Egypt, 30 April 2014, available at: [accessed 26 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: During 2013, Egypt witnessed an increase in terrorism and violent extremism following the July 3 removal of the elected government. Although the majority of attacks were concentrated in northern Sinai, some significant incidents occurred in the eastern Nile Delta between Cairo and the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya. This violence was primarily directed against Egyptian government security forces and rarely targeted Egyptian civilians, foreigners, or foreign economic interests, although there were several bombings or attempted bombings of public buses in Cairo in late December. The Sinai-based terrorist organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) claimed responsibility for the majority of the more complex attacks on the security services.

While Egyptian security services struggled in July and August to contain the wave of violent extremist attacks, close coordination between the National Security Sector (NSS), the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS), and the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) ultimately led to a reduction in the number of terrorist attacks in the Sinai. By the end of 2013, the EAF were continuing an aggressive military campaign in northern Sinai in an effort to disrupt the smuggling of arms and explosives between Gaza and Egypt, as well as to kill suspected militants and deny extremist groups a place from which to plan attacks. In an effort to restore internal security and combat violent extremism, the interim Egyptian government focused its 2013 efforts on protecting critical infrastructure and restoring basic security.

The Egyptian government also cracked down on those opposed to the interim government throughout the country. This crackdown targeted the Muslim Brotherhood and non-violent secular political opponents, as well as violent Islamist extremist elements. On December 25, the Government of Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as a terrorist organization, but did not provide any substantiating evidence that the MB was directly involved in the terrorist attacks that followed President Mohamed Morsy's removal.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: Egypt witnessed hundreds of terrorist attacks in 2013, the vast majority occurring after the July 3 removal of the elected government, within the north Sinai and the eastern Nile Delta region. The Egyptian military and police forces were the primary targets of these attacks. A majority of the attacks in July through September employed rudimentary tactics, such as drive-by shootings and crude explosives, but since September, an increasing number have used more lethal and sophisticated tactics, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and suicide vehicular-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) attacks.

Significant attacks included:

  • On July 7, unknown assailants attacked the Sinai pipeline that transports natural gas between Egypt and Jordan. This was the first attack on the pipeline since June 2012.

  • On August 19, unknown gunmen stopped two police buses carrying Central Security Forces (CSF) conscripts to a base in Al-Arish in Northern Sinai and killed at least 24. On August 31, the al-Furqan Brigades launched two RPGs at a merchant vessel transiting the Suez Canal.

  • On September 5, a suicide VBIED attack attempted to target Egyptian Minister of Interior Muhammad Ibrahim in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo, resulting in one dead and over twenty injured. Ibrahim was not hurt. ABM claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • On September 11, near simultaneous suicide VBIED attacks targeted the Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence office in Rafah, wounding 20; and an armored personnel carrier at an Army checkpoint nearby, killing nine.

  • On October 7, the al-Furqan Brigades launched two RPGs at a NileSat uplink facility's satellite dish in the Maadi neighborhood of Cairo.

  • On October 7, ABM launched a suicide VBIED attack against the south Sinai security directorate in al-Tor, killing five security force personnel and wounding 50.

  • On October 10, a suicide VBIED attack at an Al-Arish checkpoint killed four and injured five security personnel.

  • On October 19, ABM launched a suicide VBIED attack against an Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence building in Ismailia, wounding six.

  • On November 18, ABM launched a VBIED attack against an Army transport bus east of Al-Arish killing 11 soldiers and wounding 35 others.

  • On December 24, ABM launched a VBIED attack against the Daqahliya Police Directorate in the eastern Nile Delta city of Mansura, killing 16 and injuring over 130 others.

  • On December 26, a small, rudimentary IED exploded next to a bus in the Nasr City neighborhood of Cairo, wounding five; a second IED was discovered in the vicinity and dismantled.

  • On December 29, a VBIED went off near the military intelligence headquarters in Sharqiya injuring four.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Egypt's most recent State of Emergency (SoE) declaration expired on November 14, 2013, ending implementation of the Emergency Law that had been reinstated since August 14, 2013. On June 2, the Supreme Constitutional Court declared warrantless searches and arrests, even under the Emergency Law, unconstitutional.

Interim government officials insisted that all arrests since July 3, when the 2012 constitution was suspended, were made in accordance with the Penal Code and denied any warrantless arrests, although these were reported by human rights groups. Warrantless searches and arrests did occur under an SoE in early 2013, following a January 27 decision by then-President Morsy to declare a 30-day SoE in Port Said, Suez, and Ismailiya after violent clashes on the anniversary of the January 25, 2011 revolution, left more than 50 people dead in those governorates.

Egyptian law enforcement entities continued to take proactive measures against identified terrorist cells. While Egypt appeared to have limited its counterterrorism exchanges with some foreign partners, it continued to participate – with periodic interruptions due to security concerns and instability – in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program in 2013. ATA training and equipment deliveries for Egypt were shaped to try to meet objectives and needs specific to Egypt amid the country's evolving political landscape, specifically in the areas of leadership and management, border security, and building investigative capacity.

Egypt continued its efforts to improve border security. This included achieving significant control over the illicit border trade, including weapons, through tunnels beneath northeastern Sinai and Gaza. In response to unrest through the year, Egypt reinforced its security and protection measures at airports, ports, and the Suez Canal. While Egyptian border officials maintain a watchlist for suspected violent extremists, it is not shared with the relevant agencies involved in the processing of people and goods. The United States provided some technical assistance at the Rafah border crossing with Gaza; however, the Egyptian Customs Authority lacks a central database to track the movement of cargo and passengers and to establish patterns and trends across all of Egypt. The Egyptian Ministry of Defense continues to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Defense for the procurement of border security items such as ground monitoring sensors and cameras.

To combat weapons and explosives smuggling, the Egyptian government completed installation of nonintrusive inspection equipment at the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel site near Suez; additional sites on the Suez Canal, the Sinai, and in western Egypt were under development. Due to the July change of government, there has been little progress to enhance the capabilities and modernize the Border Guard Forces. The Ministries of Defense, Finance, and Interior, who all contribute to border security, share border-related information minimally.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Egypt is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. The country has a well-developed financial sector, but a significant amount of funds moves through the informal sector, raising the risks for abuse by terrorist groups. Egyptian authorities have accused its main political opposition, the MB, of funding al-Qa'ida, although they have not provided substantiating evidence. Egypt's terrorist finance regulations are broadly in line with relevant UNSCRs regarding terrorist financing. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that are listed by UNSCRs 1267/1989 and 1988 sanctions committees, and its Code of Criminal Procedures and Penal Code adequately provides for the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of assets related to terrorism.

With regard to implementation of the UNSC 1267/1989 (al-Qa'ida) sanction regime, the Egyptian notification process falls short of FATF standards, particularly with respect to authorities to freeze or seize assets without delay. According to current procedures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives the UN lists and sends such lists to the Egyptian Money Laundering Combating Unit, which then directs concerned agencies to take the required actions. There are no specific procedures related to the un-freezing of assets.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Egypt is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and together with the United States, co-chairs its Rule of Law and Justice Working Group. Egypt participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) is legally responsible for issuing guidance to imams throughout Egypt, including how to avoid extremist language in sermons. Al-Azhar University cooperated with international programs to help train imams who promote tolerance and non-violence, interfaith cooperation, and human rights. The Ministry of Islamic Endowments is also required to license all mosques; however, many operate without licenses. The government has the authority to appoint and monitor the imams who lead prayers in licensed mosques and pays their salaries. In practice, government control over mosques decreased after the 2011 revolution, but strengthened following the removal of former President Mohamed Morsy in July. In September, the ministry issued a decree banning imams who are not graduates of Al-Azhar from preaching in mosques. The decree prohibited holding Friday prayers in mosques smaller than 80 square meters, banned unlicensed mosques from holding Friday congregational prayer services, and required that Friday sermons follow government "talking points" that preach tolerance and non-violence. Local media reported that the ministry did in fact stop some non-Azharite preachers from delivering sermons in mosques later in the year.

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