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Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Egypt

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Egypt, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 12 December 2017]
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 faced an evolving political, legal, and security environment in which they continued to combat terrorism and violent extremism. In June, Egypt elected a President, replacing the military council that had ruled the country since February 2011. In August, an attack on an Egyptian military installation near Rafah resulted in the deaths of 16 Egyptian soldiers and the hijacking of military vehicles, which were then used in an attempt to attack targets in Israel. This attack brought the problem of lawlessness in the Sinai to the forefront of President Morsy's security agenda. While the National Security Sector, which replaced the State Security Investigations Service in 2011, has struggled to fully understand and effectively combat terrorist threats, it has had some successes, such as the October raid and arrest of al-Qa'ida (AQ) aspirants in Cairo's Nasr City neighborhood. In addition, following the September 11 breach of the U.S. Embassy compound in Cairo, the Ministry of Interior ordered improvements to security measures around the Embassy.

Egypt's Northern Sinai region remained a transit route for smuggling arms and explosives into Gaza, as well as a base and transit point for Palestinian violent extremists. The smuggling of humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and Gaza supported criminal networks with possible ties to terrorist groups in the region, although media accounts of Egyptian action to collapse smuggling tunnels increased later in the year. The smuggling of weapons from Libya to and through Egypt has increased since the overthrow of the Qadhafi regime. The security forces interdicted some of these arms. While it remained opposed to violent extremism, the Egyptian government largely focused its efforts on protecting official installations, restoring basic security, and ensuring a peaceful political transition.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: Nearly all of the reported terrorist incidents involved attacks on security forces – Egyptian, Israeli, or international – guarding or monitoring the Sinai, its state infrastructure, and its border with Gaza and Israel. These incidents included:

  • On April 5, a rocket attack was fired from Sinai on Eilat, Israel.

  • On June 16, two rockets were fired from Sinai on Israel.

  • On June 18, a cross-border improvised explosive device attack targeted workers constructing the Israeli security fence along the Gaza-Sinai border. The Mujahidin Shura Council claimed responsibility.

  • On July 22, there was a cross-border shooting at a bus of Israeli soldiers.

  • On August 5, an attack near Rafah resulted in the death of 16 Egyptian soldiers. Attackers hijacked two Egyptian military vehicles and unsuccessfully attempted to cross the border and assault the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

  • On August 15, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Partisans of the Holy Sanctuary) claimed responsibility for two rockets fired at Eilat, Israel.

  • On September 21, an attack on an Israeli checkpoint resulted in the death of one Israeli Defense Force soldier; Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility.

  • On November 3, suspected violent Islamist extremists killed three Egyptian policemen in El-Arish in the northern Sinai.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Egypt's Emergency Law, in effect since 1981, expired on May 31, 2012. State emergency courts continued to adjudicate those arrested for Emergency Law violations that occurred prior to its annulment. Officially, after that date, terrorism suspects were supposed to be investigated by civilian prosecutors for trial in regular civilian courts. In some cases, involving attacks on military personnel and facilities, however, military prosecutors and courts continued to function and assert jurisdiction.

Egypt continued its incremental efforts to improve border security with U.S. assistance and maintained its strengthened airport and port security measures and security for the Suez Canal, though the country's political transition and change in government delayed further progress. Egyptian border officials maintained a watch list for suspected violent extremists.

The United States provided technical assistance to Egypt to ensure the peaceful and legal movement of people and goods through the Rafah border crossing with Israel. To combat Sinai-Gaza frontier smuggling, installation was completed for Omniview scanners at the Peace Bridge on the Suez Canal at El Qantara. In addition, five Egyptian officers travelled to the United States in September to visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters, and the U.S. Port of Entry along the U.S.-Mexico border in California. CBP worked with Egyptian Customs Authority in Alexandria, Egypt to identify its customs-specific training needs.

On October 24, Egyptian security services raided a Cairo apartment in the Nasr City neighborhood and arrested a number of Egyptians, Libyans, and Tunisians associated with AQ aspirants in Egypt. On October 30, they arrested Sheikh Adel Shehato, an Egyptian Islamic Jihad official who is accused of founding and financing the Nasr City cell. The Egyptian security services subsequently arrested group leader Muhammad Jamal al Kashef. Authorities seized weapons, some of which may have been smuggled from Libya, and claimed that the cell planned attacks on Egyptian and international targets in the country. These actions appeared to indicate an increase in security officials' willingness to enforce existing laws.

The Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program provided training and equipment grants designed to meet needs and objectives specific to Egypt amid the country's evolving political landscape.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Egypt is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Egypt's terrorist finance regulations were in line with relevant UNSCRs, though compliance with FATF international standards remained lacking. Egypt regularly informed its own financial institutions of any individuals or entities that are designated by the UN 1267/1989 and 1988 sanctions committees. Egypt's Code of Criminal Procedures and Penal Code adequately provides for the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of terrorism-related assets. With regard to implementation of UNSCRs 1267/1989 and 1988, however, the Egyptian notification process falls short of the requirements of FATF standards, particularly the use of measures and procedures for competent authorities to be able to freeze or seize terrorist-identified assets without delay. In Egypt, implementation requires a series of steps for actions by the relevant agencies and entities throughout the Egyptian government. Authorities have explained that 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. Moreover, delays in Egypt's judicial process could cause unnecessary delays and defeat the rationale for taking expedited freezing action in relation to individuals and legal persons designated on the UN lists.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 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-chaired its Rule of Law and Justice Committee. Egypt participated in the Arab League's Counterterrorism Committee, and the Egyptian Customs Authority's Alexandria training center served as the location for counterterrorism capacity building for other regional governments.

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 maintained a program to train imams who promote moderate Islam, interfaith cooperation, and human rights.

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