Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Egypt
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||18 August 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Egypt, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e52482c28.html [accessed 26 July 2014]|
Overview: The Egyptian government's strong opposition to violent extremism, together with its effective intelligence and security services, made Egypt an unattractive operating environment for terrorist groups. However, while the government took steps to further secure its borders, Egypt's Northern Sinai region remained a base for the smuggling of arms and explosives into Gaza, and a transit point for Hamas officials and operatives. The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and the Gaza Strip has created criminal networks that may be associated with terrorist groups in the region.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: In April and August, rockets were reportedly fired from the Sinai, striking in Jordan and Israel near the cities of Al Aqaba and Eilat, respectively.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Many of the Egyptian president's far-reaching powers in the realm of counterterrorism come from Egypt's State of Emergency, which has been in force since 1981. Since 2005, former President Mubarak had pledged to lift the State of Emergency and replace it with new counterterrorism legislation, noting that Egypt should follow the example of other countries that have recently passed comprehensive laws to combat terrorism. Counterterrorism legislation had reportedly been drafted, but not submitted to or approved by Egypt's Parliament. Parliament renewed the State of Emergency in May, though it limited its application to terrorism and narcotics cases.
Egypt maintained its strengthened airport security measures and security for the Suez Canal, and instituted more stringent port security measures. The United States provided technical assistance to Egypt in an effort to ensure that the Rafah border crossing is used only for the peaceful and legal movement of people and goods.
In February, an Egyptian state security court began prosecution of 26 men arrested in July 2009 and dubbed the "Zeitun" cell by the media for robbing and murdering a Coptic Christian jeweler to fund terrorism activities. The group was also charged with the February 2009 Khan El Khalili bombing and of having ties with al-Qa'ida. At the end of 2010, the trial had not been completed.
In April, an Egyptian state security court convicted 26 men of belonging to a Hizballah cell that reportedly planned to attack Israeli tourists in the Sinai Peninsula and ships passing through the Suez Canal. Arrested in late 2008, the 26 men were also charged with smuggling weapons and goods through tunnels into the Gaza Strip. Sentences ranged from six months to life in prison. Four of the individuals were tried in absentia.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Over the past eight years, Egypt has tightened its terrorist finance regulations in keeping with relevant UNSCRs. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that were designated by the UN 1267 sanctions committee.
Regional and International Cooperation: Egypt actively participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee. The Egyptian Assistant Deputy Foreign Minister for Counterterrorism was elected chair of this Arab League committee in 2010. Egypt also assisted states in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia in building counterterrorism capacity.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Egyptian Government sponsored a number of counter-radicalization programs, including a "revision and reintegration program" for members of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya and Egyptian Islamic Jihad who remained in detention. The goal was to further encourage the renunciation of violence through interaction with Egypt's Islamic scholars at Al-Azhar. In addition, the Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) issued guidance to imams throughout Egypt that included directions to avoid extremism in sermons. Egypt's Al-Azhar University cooperated with Cambridge University on a training program for imams that promoted moderate Islam, inter-faith cooperation, and human rights.