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Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Egypt

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 31 July 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Egypt, 31 July 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/501fbcb92d.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
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: Egyptian security services wrestled with a significantly different political and security environment and experienced some loss of capacity after the January 25, 2011 revolution, creating a potentially more permissive operating environment for terrorist groups. In addition to reduced numbers and low morale, the security services must now operate within a new, ill-defined legal framework. Egyptian officials expressed confidence that the new National Security Sector (NSS), which replaced the Interior Ministry State Security (SSIS), will adequately perform its national security function in intelligence and preventive security. Egypt's Northern Sinai region remained a base for smuggling arms and explosives into Gaza, as well as a transit point for Palestinian extremists. The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and Gaza created criminal networks with possible ties to terrorist groups in the region. The smuggling of weapons from Libya through Egypt has increased since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime. While it remained opposed to violent extremism, the Egyptian government focused its post-revolution efforts on protecting official installations, restoring basic security, and trying to recapture extremists and criminals who escaped from prison.

2011 Terrorist Incidents: In January, a suicide bomber attacked a Coptic Church in Alexandria, killing 23 people. In August, gunmen operating out of Sinai launched an attack near Eilat, killing eight Israelis. While responding to the incident, Israeli soldiers killed six Egyptian border police. The Sinai gas pipeline to Israel was bombed 10 times, forcing production shutdowns. A group calling itself Ansar al-Jihad claimed responsibility for the Eilat attack and two of the pipeline attacks. No one claimed responsibility for the Coptic Church attack.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: In September, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced that the Emergency Law would continue to be applied until June 2012 and amended the law to include new violations such as "attacks on freedom of work," "blocking traffic or closing roads," and "intentionally publishing or broadcasting false news and rumors." The Emergency Law allows arrest without a warrant and detention of an individual without charge for as long as 30 days, after which a detainee may demand a court hearing in order to challenge the legality of a detention order. A detainee may resubmit a motion for a hearing at one-month intervals thereafter; however, there is no limit to the detention period if a judge continues to uphold the order or if the detainee fails to exercise the right to a hearing, and there is no possibility of bail.

Egypt maintained its strengthened airport and port security measures and security for the Suez Canal. The United States provided technical assistance to Egypt in an effort to ensure that the Rafah border crossing with Israel was used only for the peaceful and legal movement of people and goods.

In April, an Egyptian state security court released 16 members of the Zeitun cell (a group of 25 people accused of forming a terrorist cell to target tourists and Christians) and continued prosecution of the remaining nine. In December, the court adjourned the trial until March 19, 2012. The Zeitun cell was charged with robbing and murdering a Coptic Christian jeweler to fund terrorist activities, conducting the February 2009 Khan El Khalili bombing, and having ties with al-Qa'ida.

Egypt continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA training and equipment grants for Egypt were tailored to meet objectives and needs specific to Egypt amid the country's evolving political landscape.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Egypt is a member of the Middle East North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Egypt's terrorist finance regulations were in line with relevant United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that are designated by the UN 1267/1989 and 1988 sanctions committees, and Egypt's Code of Criminal Procedures and Penal Code adequately provided for the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of assets related to terrorism.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Regional and International Cooperation: Egypt is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and, together with the United States, co-chaired its Rule of Law and Justice Committee. Egypt participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee, and assisted states in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia in building counterterrorism capacity.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) is legally responsible for issuing guidance to imams throughout Egypt, including how to avoid extremism in sermons. Al-Azhar University cooperated with Cambridge University on a training program for imams that promoted moderate Islam, interfaith cooperation, and human rights.

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