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Egypt: Bloodshed on Palm Sunday

Category: Press Releases
Created on Sunday, 09 April 2017 23:17
Image result for tanta bombingEgypt’s Coptic Christians suffered another fatal attack on its churches during this morning’s (April 9) Palm Sunday celebrations. Many parishioners were killed and maimed in a dual-church attack during the Palm Sunday services. 
 
North of Cairo, a terrorist bomb struck the Church of Saint George in Tanta claiming the lives of more than 40 worshippers and injuring at least 65 attendees. 
 
Simultaneously, the Morkussia Church of Alexandria was bombed leaving at least 15 persons dead and many more injured. After leading the celebration mass, Coptic Pope Tawadros II left the Morkussia Church minutes before the planted bomb exploded. Aside from the casualties from the Coptic population, four police officers were killed. 
Immediately upon the tragic moments of this dual attack, Al Azhar Institute -- the center for Sunni 
 
Muslim scholarship and the core of Egypt’s deep state -- announced that such actions represented strange, abnormal behavior from Islam given its peaceful doctrine. President Al-Sisi followed with his routine phone call to the Coptic Pope to offer solidarity and an investigation. 
 
The Egyptian news reported that during this event the government dismissed the Western Province police director from his duties. It is speculated that the director was known as a terror sympathizer or even complicit in this occurrence. However, no one knows for certain the motivation behind his firing, which 
 
followed on the heels of a brutal beating by Coptic youths outside the church when the director appeared after the bombing to investigate.
 
The Coptic Orthodox Church seems to have joined the rhetoric of the deep state and the Al-Sisi administration using a deception that has facilitated and sustained a long string of terrorist attacks targeting Coptic Christians in recent months and years since A-Sisi came to office.
 
Reflecting this is a recent statement made by Coptic Bishop Emanuel a few days ago saying, “The Coptic situation improved after the June 30 uprising,” (referring to Morsi’s removal from leadership in 2013).  He added, “Copts are getting their full rights and now everyone lives in peace, and such improvement is due 
 
to a government and president who care for everyone without distinction.” Even a cursory understanding of Egyptian events reveals the delusional nature of his statements or even worse, his intent to deceive.   
 
Voice of the Copts offers its deepest condolences to the families and sincere hope and prayers for the full and speedy recovery of all injured parties.
 
Voice of the Copts
Dr.Ashraf Ramelah
Founder and President

At least 25 killed in Explosion in Coptic Tanta church

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 09 April 2017 22:12
St. George Church bombingTwenty-five people were killed and at least 42 others were injured in an explosion in a Coptic Church in Tanta, Egypt on Sunday morning.
 
Tanta is located to the north of Cairo and southeast of Alexandria.
 
Initial investigations show the terrorist blew himself up during the church's Palm Sunday services, causing mass destruction at the scene.
 
CBC TV showed footage from inside the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.
 
No organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
 
The Copts are the oldest and largest Christian denomination in Egypt, comprising some 10% of the population. Copts have been subject to violent religious persecution by Islamic extremists In just one 
 
province, 77 attacks against Copts were recorded between 2011 and 2016..

Egypt's ISIS affiliate kills police driver in the Sinai

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 August 2016 08:51
Sinai ISIS affiliate kills police driverEgyptian security officials on Thursday said a police driver kidnapped this week has been publicly shot dead in Sinai by suspected jihadists from the local Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate.
 
The officials, quoted by The Associated Press, said three terrorists and the policeman arrived Thursday at el-Arish's residential al-Masaeed district in a green pickup truck.
 
The policeman, blindfolded with his arms and legs tied by a robe, was then brought out and shot twice in the head.
 
He had been kidnapped by the jihadists Tuesday while driving a police car in el-Arish. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
 
Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in the Sinai which began shortly the 2011 ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak and has gotten even worse since the army ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
 
Most of the terrorist attacks in the Sinai have been claimed by the Sinai Province terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS.
 
Among the attacks claimed by Sinai Province in recent years were the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai.
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks from the Sinai Peninsula on southern Israel.

Vatican ecumenism forsakes Egypt’s Christian minorities

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Friday, 24 June 2016 09:55
Pope meet Grand ImamPope Francis, who is “building bridges to build peace” around the world, has naturally reached out to embrace Sunni Muslims. Last month, for the first time after years of Vatican silence, Pope Francis summoned to his private library in Rome grand imam Ahmed El-Tayeb of Cairo’s Al-Ahzar Mosque Institute. Absent a press release before this event, the Pope was quoted as saying, “this meeting is the message” – leading all to dwell on the meaning and purpose of their 25 minutes together. Christians, especially Egyptian Coptic Christians, have observed the Catholic pope give the “sign of peace” to the grand imam who has yet been unwilling to denounce ISIS. Unity existed between the two religious branches previous to former Pope Benedict XVI condemning Islam’s inclination to violence. This message of reconciliation comes during the Al-Sisi  government which has stood opposed to the favored and protected status of an organization entwined with Al-Ahzar -- the Muslim Brotherhood – and against the ascendency of this terror network and others beginning before his presidential campaign. 
 
Two days before their historic meeting, headlines around the world reported the violent and humiliating act committed by a Muslim mob in Upper Egypt against a Christian woman in a Christian-majority village. Homes where razed and a grandmother was stripped naked, dragged from her house and beaten in the street. Egypt’s courts are not officially Sharia but street justice involving private matters is strictly Islamic doctrine (coercion of non-Muslims), and violence has no real consequences in the courts. No words came from either of the leaders in the “Jubilee of Mercy” meeting (its official title) to address this incident, which by the nature of this attack holds deeper, more serious implications in Egyptian culture. An elderly woman in Egypt is considered sacrosanct, and practically speaking, this means across sectarian lines she is universally respected for her tenderness and kindheartedness toward others. Even codified barbarity had had this limit before now.  
 
Evidence of Al-Sisi’s attempt at reform of Islamic doctrine met by Al-Ahzar reluctance is seen recently in the Institute’s insignificant changes to public school textbooks and mosque preaching. Presently, President Al-Sisi is stifled in his efforts to expunge religious supremacy from Egypt without cooperation from Al-Ahzar and apparently even with its assistance. As these particulars are the cultural foundation used for oppressing Christians, it is now hopeful that Francis will focus on such issues. Although Francis has not been terribly outspoken on Coptic Church destruction, he has grieved with the Orthodox of Egypt and offered his prayers over the spilled blood of Christians in Libya recognizing the Coptic Christian martyrs. 
 
Solidarity (a hug and kisses) shown in this re-connection of Cairo’s Sunni grand imam with the Catholic Pope followed by silence (no official statements) helps to bolster and propel the position of the Institute’s goals for Egypt, which are far from optimal in the cause for freedom of religion and speech and the subject of human rights. It is not likely that Francis will meet with President Al-Sisi, if he hasn’t first already done so, even though by contrast Al-Sisi projects real hope for Egypt’s future in his committed struggle for freedom and equality. This we see in regard to Egypt’s deep state (the tentacles of Al-Ahzar religious brainwashing), from which Al-Sisi seeks to disentangle and de-program out of the administrations of the state. He rose to office on that claim and until now has produced evidence of genuineness along with impossible odds. It is logical to assume by Francis’ exclusion of Al-Sisi and, for that matter, Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who represents 20 million Christians, that building bridges was not foremost on the mind of Pope Francis. The absence of these key figures in the room does in itself shed light onto the meaning of the meeting; in effect, by this oversight, Francis acknowledges only the deep state. 
 
For Pope Francis, ecumenical zeal is more his quest than a real concern for solutions to the rise of jihad. However, the Vatican’s ecumenism comes at the expense of Egypt’s human rights. This encounter may symbolize for many an affirmation of peace attained through submission. After all, Francis now reached out to El-Tayeb in an apologetic mode for the public “insult” in denouncing Islam’s violence some years back. But Francis intends his appeasement to speak for the entire Christian world. 
 
Last year, remarking upon the slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians by Sunni Muslim jihadists in Libya, Francis told leaders of the Church of Scotland that, “I ask that we encourage each other to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood.” In that emotional moment Francis capitalized on martyrdom to bind together Christian protestant denominations under the Roman Catholic umbrella which in turn extends a hand to Islam. The pope’s ecumenical fanaticism is blurring the lines of theological differences for the sake of one spiritual conglomerate without much thought to religious minorities preferring to remain divided from certain doctrine and the indoctrinators linked to the throat-slashers of Libya.
 
In the end, we are left with questions and speculation of what to expect in the aftermath of this meeting. Will the world see less vengeful opposition to the Roman pope’s 12th century crusade? Will we see a new edict declaring that jihad is inappropriate for today’s civilized world or Al-Ahzar denounce ISIS? Will we see a public statement by the two heads condemning the use of religion to commit violence? And finally, might all this potential good we await be based on a designation called “heavenly,” which the pope may have bestowed upon the Sunni sect during this meeting? For many decades, Cairo’s Muslim authorities have sought this label to prove religious equality with the faiths of Christianity and Judaism and have looked to the Roman Catholic pope for this ultimate seal of approval. 

Egyptian court rejects deal to cede islands to Saudi Arabia

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 21 June 2016 11:47
Sanafir and Tiran islandsAn Egyptian court has struck down an agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which would have seen two strategic Red Sea islands transferred to Saudi control.
 
News of the deal, struck earlier this year between Cairo's cash-strapped government and Riyadh, provoked angry protests by Egyptians, who saw the agreement as a blow to national sovereignty.
 
Under the agreement, announced in April, the Sanafir and Tiran islands - which are located off the coast of Eilat in southern Israel - would have been ceded to Saudi Arabia. The two islands provide Israel's only access to the Port of Aqaba; it was an Egyptian blockade of that passage which helped spark the 1967 Six Day War. Israel had apparently been notified of the deal.
 
Egyptian officials defended the agreement by noting that both islands had been under Saudi control until 1950, when Riyadh asked Cairo to "protect them" from Israel. They were captured during the Six Day War and handed to Egypt under its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
 
But the court was unimpressed, and rejected the deal according to reports Tuesday.
 
Egypt's government can still appeal the ruling in a higher court, which it is likely to do - though that may risk renewed protests.
 
The government of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is desperate for Saudi aid as it continued to struggle with a shattered economy and growing debts, following years of instability after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Resisting blasphemy laws in Egypt: Islam against Islam

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:34
Islam BuhieryEgypt’s deep state is a bureaucratic theocracy. This network forms the infrastructure of the official government. It is accountable to the doctrines put forth by the powerful Islamic clerics of Al-Ahzar Institute. The religion of Islam, when merged with the state, can better exert Allah’s powerful hold over the individual. Only then can it fulfill its destiny. While controlling Egypt, Islam’s elite, in turn, have control over its whole world of believers. Their race for world domination begins in Egypt.  
 
Brave Egyptians resisting the system and exposing ideological underpinnings will eventually erode Islam’s backward concepts and entwinement with the state. It can rob power from religionists and lead to the release of followers around the world. Believers can then be inspired to replace blind obedience and fear with individual thinking, free will and assimilation into Western societies – a hopeful scenario. 
 
Dr. Islam Buheiry is one example of only a handful like him around the world. An iconoclast, Dr. Islam Buheiry, evolved out of the climate of dissent that delivered Al-Sisi, the military general, to lead Egyptians out of the Arab Spring. He is an Egyptian intellectual living in Cairo specializing in the study and renewal of Islam for modern times. He spoke out against the religious establishment’s exploitation of ancient texts. He analyzed interpretations by Islam’s top historians and teachers past and present. For this he risked his life. Last month he began a one year prison sentence (often a penalty worse than death) for his offensive opinions. Dr. Islam Buheiry – speaking about Islam in the Egyptian state-sponsored media – is a hero at a time when the West is afraid to even name or discuss Islamic terrorism.
 
Educated in Britian, Buheiry headed the Islamic Studies Center Foundation at Cairo’s Al Youm Al Sabeh newspaper, a position created just for him, but he went far beyond his role. His research led the way for Islam’s religious enlightenment, which entailed new explanations and revision of sanctified Islamic texts. He was careful to focus on sacred writings (Seerah and Hadethes) outside the Koran or Koranic verses believed to be sealed in heaven. Despite his politically correct approach, he dared to contradict Al-Ahzar Sunni doctrine – interpreted Islamic texts used to manage Muslim followers around the world. 
 
It all started a few years back when Buheiry began a national television program called “With Islam” to examine Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ideology, the strictest version of Islamic Sunni theology. As the Arab Spring Egyptians fought against tyranny, Buheiry questioned bizarre and dangerous “fatwas” -- edicts issued by imams justifying MB takeover and Sharia law. None of Buheiry’s religious opponents could find arguments to silence him. In general, religious legalists refuse to engage in open and honest debate where violence has been the acceptable answer. Buheiry rose up in the face of what he knew about the fate of Dr. Faraj Fuda before him, a freethinker who spoke publicly about Islam and was assassinated through edict during the Mubarak regime. In fact, Dr. Islam Buheiry considered Dr. Fuda his teacher.   
 
When Buheiry exposed the religion for its inherent radicalism, he entered into a collision course with the deep state -- a stronghold of backward, intolerant state officials, prosecutors and judiciary allying with Al-Azhar religious dictates. Egypt’s legal system dating from the 19th century French occupation has been under siege by Islamic clerics since 1971. The Second Amendment of Egypt’s constitution subjugates all matters to a final ruling by religious scholars and contradicts the remainder of the constitution’s text, which is steeped in the language of freedom and human rights.  
 
The crime of blasphemy, now gaining influence in the West (U.S. H. Res. 569, https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-resolution/569/text), pertains broadly to mentioning, questioning, analyzing, or criticizing the religion of Islam. Egyptians now have a leader and an advocate for the cause to rid Egypt and the world of archaic, draconian laws and severe, inhumane punishments. In only two years’ time, Egypt’s “reformist” president has not only accomplished much to end terrorism but has begun to chip away at the foundations and the system that produces it worldwide. 
 
He did the obvious first. He banned the Muslim Brotherhood organization, removed its members from key government positions, and sent the military to the Gaza border as well as Libya to fight terror. Meanwhile, he addressed the deeper layer; the machine that continues to generate the ideological basis for terror. Like fellow dissidents, Buheiry and Fuda before him, the President puts his life in jeopardy.
 
When Al-Sisi requested a referendum back in 2013 from the people to fight terrorism, more than 10 million citizens gathered in Tahrir Square to answer yes. Today with this mandate, Al-Sisi has approached Islam’s “doctrinal command center” (Al-Ahzar Institute) to encourage an enlightened transformation of the Islamic message. He has given speeches to Al-Ahzar scholars for the explicit purpose of inviting peace and equality with other faiths in the country. His reasoning has extended to the immense Islamic propaganda network within Egypt spreading through early education textbooks, and he set out to rewrite and eradicate religious brainwashing. 
 
During his tenure, Al-Sisi has made two unprecedented visits to the Orthodox Church during the holiest of times, which Coptic Christians take as genuine outreaches for the promise of equality and religious freedom. With this, he committed the state to rebuild 87 destroyed churches resulting from the most recent Islamic attacks. Importantly, he opened up parliamentary elections to Christian candidates for the first time ever in Egypt, which have only ever been token appointments in the past selected from this minority. All of this makes him dangerous to the establishment. 
 
Al-Sisi’s industriousness is historic. This is anti-Islamic and, in itself, represents a culture clash. It took his government just six months to complete a Suez Canal expansion project, which has proven to Egyptians he means to do what he promises. Like Dr. Buheiry and Dr. Fuda, Al-Sisi, the president, is a true hero and role model. If he were to publicly pardon Dr. Buheiry and memorialize Dr. Fuda for their brave work in this common cause, it would strengthen and build momentum for the progress forged so far in Egypt. 

Egyptian cartoonist who was critical of the government arrested

Category: News
Created on Monday, 01 February 2016 10:00
Islam GaweeshAn Egyptian cartoonist whose work is occasionally critical of government figures was arrested in Cairo on Sunday, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
The man, Islam Gaweesh, will be charged with running a webpage without a license, the country's Interior Ministry said.
 
In custody, Gaweesh was told that the only charge actually against him so far was "publishing drawings that are offensive to the regime," his lawyer Mahmoud Othman told AP.
 
While most of Gaweesh's work dealt with the mundanities of life in Egypt, noted AP, he did draw a cartoon depitcting a foul-mouthed pro-government lawyer and lawmaker Mortada Mansour, who often threatens to beat his political opponents with his shoes.
 
Earlier this month, Mansour was selected to head the parliament's human rights committee.
 
In Gaweesh's caricature, Mansour is shown standing next to a torturer and his victim saying: "Lash the lights out of him, but gently", according to AP.
 
Since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, the government has launched a crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds of protesters and throwing thousands of Islamists in prison, noted AP.
 
The statement from the Interior Ministry, which runs the police force in Egypt, said Gaweesh was arrested at the headquarters of the news website, Egypt News Network, which they raided on Sunday after official investigations revealed that it was publishing news without a license.
 
The statement added that Gaweesh was arrested for running "his own website" without the authorization of the Ministry of Telecommunications, reported Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper.
 
Gawish was also arrested for possession of pirated copies of software, the interior ministry added.
 
Al-Ahram noted that Gawish earned fame on social media after starting a doodle cartoon Facebook page called "Al-Warqa" (The Paper), where he posted cartoons mostly about social issues in Egypt.
 
The newspaper also said there are no legal restrictions in Egypt on launching and moderating a Facebook page. However, a significant number of moderators have been arrested in recent months on various charges, mostly for attempting to instigate protests and violence.
 
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death during the crackdown on dissent, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.

Foreign tourists wounded in attack on Egyptian hotel

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 09:41
HurghadaGunmen on Friday opened fire at the entrance of the Bella Vista hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Hurghada, Reuters reported.
 
Two foreign tourists were wounded, according to security sources who also added that the assailants had arrived by sea to launch the attack. Some unconfirmed reports said the gunmen waved Islamic State (ISIS) flags.
 
Egyptian state TV reported that there were two attackers, one of whom was killed and the other wounded.
 
Friday’s attack comes one day after a shooting attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists outside the Three Pyramids Hotel in Cairo.
 
There were no casualties in the attack, but some damage was caused to the hotel's facade.
 
One of the shooters was arrested at the scene by Egyptian security forces, while a second was apprehended shortly after escaping the scene on a motorbike.
 
Earlier on Friday, ISIS claimed Thursday’s shooting in Cairo, saying a "security detachment" had targeted a "tourist bus carrying Jews" and that there were "killed and wounded in the ranks of the Jews and hotel security forces".
 
Security sources in Egypt have made clear, however, that the tourists on the bus were Israeli Arabs and not Jews.
 
The security forces also said the attack was criminal in nature and was apparently a response to a dispute between the two shooters and one of the employees at the Three Pyramids Hotels.

Egypt urges Israel not to normalize ties with Turkey

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 09:18
egypt sisiEgypt recently contacted Israel requesting clarification over the rapprochement talks Jerusalem is holding with Turkey, it was revealed on Thursday.
 
Senior clerks in Jerusalem told Haaretz on condition of anonymity that the Egyptian government expressed its displeasure with the notion of Turkey being given an official role in Gaza, and further asked to clarify Israel's intentions regarding Turkey's demand to lift the naval blockade on the Hamas-run enclave.
 
According to a senior clerk cited in the report Thursday, Egypt has demanded that Israel not cave in to Turkey's demands regarding Gaza, and the strong Egyptian opposition is a key factor preventing a normalization deal from being reached with Ankara.
 
Turkey continues to firmly support Hamas, which is a Gazan offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that the Egyptian government has been cracking down on. Egypt has been imposing a siege of Gaza, having turned the southern edge of the region into a buffer zone.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly fears that any compromise he might make to Turkey regarding the terror enclave of Gaza will harm relations with Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1978 following numerous failed attempts to destroy the Jewish state.
 
Netanyahu has said that Israel tried to mediate between Egypt and Turkey to reduce tensions between the rival states and allow Turkey to be more involved in Gaza, but the attempts failed.
 
Egyptian diplomats have been in touch with Israeli ambassadors and senior members of the foreign ministry to try and clarify recent reports from Turkey, according to which Israel is considering lifting its siege on Gaza which is meant to block the influx of weapons to the terrorists.
 
Turkey and Egypt have seen a crisis in relations recently, over the support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013 a military coup saw the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi deposed as president in Egypt, and replaced by military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
 
Turkey likewise supports the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, which the Egyptian government strongly opposes.
 
Turkish defense sources revealed last month that Turkey is primarily interested in rapprochement so as to buy Israeli military hardware, with Ankara interested in buying more advanced Israeli drones as well as reconnaissance and surveillance systems for its fighter jets.
 
Senior Israeli security sources for their part said they doubt Turkey is serious about rapprochement, noting on the crisis in ties with Russia - a key gas supplier for Turkey - that apparently prompted the desire for natural gas trade with Israel.

Two Israelis among tourists targeted in Cairo shooting attack

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 08:40
egypt-tourists violenceTwo Israelis were among a number of tourists targeted by masked gunmen in Cairo Thursday morning, as they boarded a bus outside the Egyptian capital's Three Pyramids Hotel.
 
There were no casualties in the attack, but some damage was caused to the hotel's facade.
 
One of the shooters was arrested at the scene by Egyptian security forces, while a second was apprehended shortly after escaping the scene on a motorbike.
 
Egyptian security forces later said the attack, which took place at a popular tourist hot spot, along a road leading to Egypt's famed pyramids, was criminal in nature. 
 
It was apparently a response to a dispute between the two shooters and one of the employees at the Three Pyramids Hotels. 
 
The attack comes on the same day as Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas according to the Orthodox Christian calendar.
 
Egypt has seen a rise in Islamist terrorism in recent years, targeting security forces, tourists and minorities - particularly Christians - in the Arab world's most populous country.
 
The lawless Sinai Peninsula in particular has become a hub for jihadist terror, with an official branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group - known as "Sinai Province" - still carrying out regular attacks, despite a massive military offensive to root them out.

Egypt reinstates ambassador in Israel

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 January 2016 11:02
Youssef ZiedanFor the first time in over three years, Egypt will be stationing an ambassador to Israel in Tel Aviv.
 
Ambassador Hazem Khairat landed in Israel last week and will take the position to the head the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv.
 
Former president Muhammad Morsi removed the previous Egyptian ambassador in protest of Israel's November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. Morsi was later deposed and replaced by President Abbad Al Fatah a-Sisi, who has much closer relations with Israel.
 
Additionally, Egypt has recently been attempting to stifle smugglers as well as terrorists escaping from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula, escalating tensions between Egypt and the Hamas controlled strip.  
 
Egypt’s preventative actions have included the recent bombardment of the Rafiah area of the Sinai Peninsula, as well as the flooding of smuggling tunnels used to transfer weapons, goods and drugs in and out of the strip.
 
During the cabinet meeting on Sunday morning Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the new Ambassador.
 
"This past weekend a new Egyptian ambassador arrived to Israel, Hazem Khairat. I welcome his arrival; I welcome the re-stationing of an Egyptian ambassador in Israel, which will enable us to further strengthen relations with this important and key Arab country."

Egyptian Air Force jets enter Gaza airspace in bombing raids

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 31 December 2015 11:17
Egyptian helicopter over the SinaiThe Egyptian Air Force (EAF) began intensive bombardment near the Gaza Strip this morning in the area surrounding the Egyptian town of Rafah. According to Palestinian media reports EAF planes entered into the airspace of Gaza itself.
 
The target of the air raids are positions belonging to ISIS's Egypt branch, known as "Sinai Province." Arabic language Sky News reported 15 fatalities thus far due to the bombings.    
 
Hamas at times helps ISIS supporters in the Sinai Peninsula by supplying them with weapons and supplies smuggled out of the strip. Reports of bombings within the strip itself have increased tensions between Egypt and Hamas.
 
Recently Egypt has been flooding the smuggling tunnels that Hamas has set up connecting the strip to Sinai, causing the tunnels to collapse while killing the Hamas operatives inside. Last week a high ranking Hamas operative, Abed al Rahman Salah al Mubashar, who was one of the kidnappers of Gilad Schalit, was killed in a tunnel collapse due to flooding.
 
Continued Egyptian bombardment and floodings threaten the drinking water reserves of those in the strip, which are already in danger of salt contamination due to overuse. Tensions spiked on Friday when a Palestinian teen was shot to death after swimming across the border into the Sinai peninsula.
 
Hamas is very limited with regards to making any sort of response against the Egyptian Air Force. While Hamas does have a supply of shoulder mounted anti-aircraft missiles, it is unlikely that they would risk a direct confrontation with Egypt that would result from a direct attack on an Egyptian fighter jet.    

Egyptian TV host, historian agree: burning Jews the solution

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 09:10
Yusri Ahmad ZidanAn Egyptian television host and a noted historian agreed that burning Jews is the "only solution" for the "Jewish problem" on Tuesday, in an interview on Rahma TV.  Footage of the interview was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 
 
"The Crusaders killed the Jews as well," Islamic history professor Yusri Ahmad Zidan stated. "They rounded them up in a house of worship and burned it down." 
 
Zidan then noted that survivors were sold as slaves, with "every 30 Jews [...] sold for a dinar."
 
"This is a trivial price, but obviously, that was what they were worth," host Dr. Muhammed Khaled agreed. 
 
Khaled then noted that "the history of the Jews has been black since the dawn of time," and asked whether burning - which the Persians, the Crusaders, and the Nazis used to commit genocide - is "the only solution for the Jews."
 
"So it seems," Zidan affirmed, adding that negotiations and coexistence are "impossible." 

Sisi: Security Measures Near Gaza Not Harming Palestinians

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 October 2015 12:15
Fights terrorismEgyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Saturday said the security measures taken by his country along the border with Gaza were not aimed at "harming" Palestinians, AFP reports.
 
"The measures taken by Egypt to secure its eastern borders are in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority and cannot have the aim of harming our Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip," Sisi was quoted as saying in a statement sent by his office.
 
"The measures seek to protect the Egyptian borders and maintain Egyptian and Palestinian national security," he added.
 
Al-Sisi reportedly made the comments during a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in New York, where they are attending the United Nations General Assembly.
 
Egypt began creating a wide buffer zone along the Gaza border in late 2014 in a bid to destroy the hundreds of smuggling tunnels Cairo says are used by Palestinian activists to deliver weapons to jihadists who are battling Egyptian forces in the Sinai peninsula.
 
The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in October in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Egyptian sources revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels, a charge which Hamas denies.
 
In recent weeks, Egypt has also been carrying out digging work in the area that Palestinians believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai.
 
The work has been criticized by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs Gaza, with chief Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday accusing Egypt of further besieging the enclave.
 
Cairo also came under fire from Human Rights Watch this week, which said Egypt's military had "violated international law" through mass home demolitions in the buffer zone and accused the government of failing to provide adequately for about 3,200 families after their evictions.
 
The watchdog also said Egypt had not "provided proof that insurgents receive military support from Gaza".
 
Since the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, jihadist groups have stepped up their attacks against Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai peninsula.
 
Most of the attacks in the Sinai have been claimed by the Sinai Province, which is affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS). Among the attacks claimed by the group was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 

ISIS Kills Two Egyptian Soldiers in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 October 2015 11:59
ISIS chiefs have reportedly given British women prominent roles Photo credit- TwitterTwo Egyptian soldiers were killed and 16 wounded by a roadside bomb today (Saturday), Associated Press reports. A northern Sinai branch of ISIS has taken responsibility for the attack.
 
The interior ministry states that the explosion occurred in the provincial capital of el-Arish, when a parked car blew up as a vehicle carrying soldiers passed.
 
The Egyptian government has been cracking down on Islamist groups in Sinai, particularly ISIS and Hamas. The measures taken include evicting residents along the border with Gaza, flooding the area to destroy tunnels, and extended military operations.
 
The army frequently announces that it has killed more terrorists, though attacks against security forces and civilians have not significantly abated.

Hamas Threatens Egypt Over Gaza 'Moat'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 14:52
Ismail HaniyehFlashHamas on Thursday accused Egypt of besieging Gaza by flooding its smuggling tunnels and building the infrastructure for a moat of sorts on the border area to the south of the terror enclave.
 
Egypt has been carrying out digging work in the area for several weeks that Palestinian Arabs believe is intended to flood the last remaining tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai, where jihadist fighters have been battling Egyptian forces.
 
Palestinian Arabs say such moves will further isolate Gaza, where Israel is imposing a naval blockade to prevent the influx of weapons, and is inspecting goods passing through the land crossings - Israel already foiled numerous attempts to smuggle weapons materials.
 
Egyptian officials have declined to comment on the work criticized by Hamas, the Gazan offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that enjoys de facto control over Gaza, where residents have reported water seeping over the border.
 
"Why are they digging those trenches and those water pipes around Rafah?" Hamas's terror chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said during a speech to commemorate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
 
"And why discard neighborly relations and the history of Gaza, which has always defended the regional security of Egypt and Arab countries? We are telling our Egyptian brothers: Stop this project. We will do our duty against those who besiege Gaza and plot against it."
 
Egypt has already established a buffer zone 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long and half a kilometer wide along its border with Gaza, forcibly evacuating thousands of Gazans and destroying their homes.
 
Part of the Egyptian crackdown on Hamas comes due to the fact that it reportedly has been arming terrorists in Sinai who have been attacking Egyptian soldiers.
 
Since the ouster of its Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, Egypt says it has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used to transport terrorists, merchandise and arms between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
 
Hamas lost a major ally in Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, and has had strained relations with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew him while army chief.
 
Tunnels have long been used to smuggle people and goods in and out of Gaza. Egypt controls the only crossing into Gaza not overseen by Israel.

Sinai: Egypt Claims it Killed 500 Terrorists in 16 Days

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 14:20
Egypt Killed 500 Terrorists in 16 DaysThe Egyptian military claimed Wednesday to have killed more than 500 jihadi terrorists over the previous 16 days, as it gears up for the second phase of an intensive counter-terrorism operation in the restive eastern Sinai Peninsula.
 
Scores more terror suspects were also arrested during the operations.
 
According to the state-controlled Al Ahram, the first 16-day phase of "Operation Martyr's Right" achieved all of its primary objectives, including "destroying terrorist hideouts and artillery storage facilities."
 
"This operation reflected the cohesion between the army, police and the people of Sinai – as well as the unprecedented welcoming [of the people of Sinai] of joint cooperation to control the security situation and to regain their rights of security and stability," the army said in a statement.
 
The operation also extended to parts of western Egypt where armed Islamist groups have gained a foothold. 
 
On Monday, soldiers killed 10 terrorists in the Bahariya Oasis. Authorities say they were planning attacks against tourists and other "foreign interests" during the festival of Eid al-Adha, which began Wednesday.
 
The second stage of the operation will be aimed at restoring order and the rule of Egypt's central government to Sinai, which has been almost entirely ungoverned since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
The operation was launched to flush out terrorists from the so-called "Sinai Province" of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, which has carried out a series of deadly attacks against Egyptian civilians and security forces in the region.
 
Egypt and Israel both allege the jihadists are being aided by Islamist terrorist groups in neighboring Gaza - including Hamas. As part of the operation Egyptian security forces have begun flooding tunnels dug buy Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups from Gaza into Sinai, to prevent the movement of terrorists and weapons between the two territories.
 
Egypt has launched several military operations in Sinai to put down a years-long Islamist insurgency, which escalated after the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. However despite previous similar declarations of victory the insurgency has raged on.

Egypt Floods Hamas Terror Tunnels

Category: News
Created on Friday, 25 September 2015 14:17
Gaza smuggling tunnel 0Egypt has begun flooding Hamas terror tunnels beneath the Egypt-Gaza Rafah border crossing Friday, in an apparent attempt to prevent terrorist infiltrations. 
 
According to Dutch news agency DPA, Egypt pumped water from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, making good on threats it made to Hamas last month.
 
Egyptian officials apparently intend to turn the tunnels, and the border region, into a series of fish farms. 
 
As part of Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on terrorism, Egypt is establishing a buffer zone along the border with Gaza. The buffer zone was initially planned to be 500 meters wide, but was later expanded by another 500 meters.
 
In addition, Egypt has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used by terrorists to smuggle weapons between Egypt and Gaza.
 
Rafah, in particular, is Gaza's only gateway to the outside world, and Egypt has kept it mostly closed since the Hamas terrorist group seized control of the area in 2007.
 
Egyptian authorities have kept the crossing virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times.
 
Sources in Egypt have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in October, which killed 30 soldiers, through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai. Hamas denies the allegations.

Will Islam's Holiest Site be Taken From Saudi Arabia?

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 12:52
Mecca crane collapseThe unusual crane collapse last Friday at the Grand Mosque in Mecca has apparently sparked a fallout in the Muslim world regarding its holiest site, as senior Egyptian religious figures called for Saudi authority over the site to be changed.
 
The collapse killed 107 people and wounded 238 at the holiest site in Islam which houses the Kaaba cube Muslims pray towards, and it ironically took place on September 11, caused by high winds and a sandstorm. It came just two weeks before the Hajj pilgrimage, and has led Saudi Arabia to bar the Saudi Binladin Group from new projects - the Group is owned by the family of Osama bin Laden.
 
Sheikh Salman Mohammed, an adviser of Egypt's Ministry of Religious Endowments, told Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency that Saudi Arabia's sole authority over the Grand Mosque where the Kaaba is located needs to be changed.
 
"Many mistakes have been made during the Hajj ceremony in recent decades and the bloody Friday incident was not the first case and will not be the last either; therefore, unless a revolution doesn’t take place in the administration and management of the Hajj ceremony in Saudi Arabia, we will witness such incidents in future too," said Mohammed to the news site.
 
Fars, which has an anti-Saudi bent, wrote that Mohammed's criticism follows on the criticism of several other Muslim leaders and politicians "demanding the change of authority in charge of running Hajj rituals from Riyadh to a collection of Muslim states."
 
Also cited in the report was Professor Ashraf Fahmi of Egypt's Al-Azhar University, which is associated with the influential Al-Azhar Mosque.
 
Fahmi called on Saudi Arabia to "admit its mistakes" in managing the Hajj pilgrimage, and to change its administration of the event.
 
Virtually since the beginning of Islam there has been a sharp and bloody divide between Sunni and Shi'ite streams, with Iran currently being the most powerful Shi'ite state and a fierce rival of Saudi Arabia. The presence of the religious sites in Mecca has given Saudi Arabia a certain prestige in the Muslim world that apparently is being challenged in the criticism over the crane collapse.
 
New Mecca debacle
 
The crane accident came during Binladin Group's work on a massive construction project to expand the area of the Grand Mosque by 400,000 square meters (4.3 million square feet) to allow up to 2.2 million visitors at once, according to Gulf News.
 
However, falling cranes are not the only worries of the millions of Muslim pilgrims arriving in Mecca.
 
On Thursday morning a massive fire at a local hotel caused 1,028 Asian Muslim pilgrims to be evacuated.
 
According to an official statement by the Saudi government, the fire took place in an 11-story hotel in the Al-Azizyiah neighborhood of Mecca.
 
Two pilgrims were wounded in the fire, but civil defense teams managed to rescue them.
 
The statement pointed out that the hotel was licensed to accommodate Muslim pilgrims arriving as part of the Hajj, possibly further raising tensions regarding Saudi Arabia's authority over the Hajj pilgrimage.

4 Hamas Naval Commandos Abducted on Way to Iran - by Egypt?

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 20 August 2015 20:44
Egypt Abducted 4senior Hamas naval commandosHamas accused Egyptian intelligence of abducting four residents of the coastal enclave after they entered Sinai on a bus on Wednesday night - after Egypt learned that the four were senior Hamas naval commandos, reports Walla! on Thursday.
 
The four commandos were on their way from the Rafiah Crossing to the airport in Cairo, where they planned to set out for Iran to receive training according to the paper.
 
A Hamas source told Al-Jazeera on Thursday night that the Egyptian security forces were responsible for the abduction. The Rafiah Crossing was closed on Thursday, after having been opened in recent days.
 
Hamas naval commandos have received advanced equipment and training from Iran in the past.
 
That equipment is said to include "scooters," a device used to propel underwater divers quickly, allowing Hamas commandos to reach distant targets deep in Israel.
 
Iyad al-Bazam, spokesperson for Hamas's interior ministry, told the Palestinian Arab Safa that the bus the four commandos were abducted from was secured by Egyptian security forces. He called for Egypt to work for their release.
 
Armed assailants opened fire on the bus, and afterwards broke on board to kidnap the four who they beat repeatedly, according to one of the passengers on the bus cited in the report.
 
The witness said the attack occurred one or two kilometers past the Rafiah Crossing, and that afterwards Egyptian security forces arrived on the scene.

Six Wounded in Car Bomb Attack in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 20 August 2015 07:00
Car Bomb Attack in Shubra -CairoA large bomb exploded early Thursday morning (local time) near a national security building in the Shubra neighborhood of Cairo, Egyptian security officials said, according to The Associated Press (AP).
 
At least six people were wounded early in the attack, which was caused by a car bomb, security sources told the Reuters news agency.
 
The sources, who inspected the site of the blast in, said there was a burned-out vehicle and crater.
 
Comments on Twitter indicated the blast was heard in several parts of the Egyptian capital.
 
Egypt has been dealing with a jihadist insurgency in recent years and, while the majority of the attacks have taken place in the restive Sinai Peninsula, other parts of Egypt have been hit as well.
 
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Sinai Province, which is affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS).
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The attack in Cairo came several days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved an anti-terrorism law that sets up special courts and provides protections to its enforcers.
 
The Cabinet approved the draft law last month, two days after a car bomb in an upscale Cairo neighborhood killed the country's prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat. On the day it was approved, jihadists launched a multi-pronged attack attempting to seize a northern Sinai town.

Former Egyptian President Morsi Appeals His Death Sentence

Category: News
Created on Monday, 17 August 2015 10:23
Morsi Death SentenceDeposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has filed an appeal against his two sentences of death and life in prison.
 
According to Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsud, one of Morsi's defense lawyers, told Egyptian media that the court ruling was based on flawed evidence.
 
Morsi, who represented the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in 2012 and overthrown in the 2013 military coup. This past June he was sentenced to death for allegedly participating in violence against the police during the 2011 uprising against dictator Hosni Mubarak. Morsi was also sentenced to life in prison for espionage.
 
Amnesty International called Morsi's trial "grossly unfair."
 
Current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has acted strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood. Under his rule the group, including its Palestinian branch Hamas, has been outlawed and hundreds of its members and supports have been imprisoned. Seven have been executed.

Egypt Tests Out Second Suez Canal

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 01 August 2015 20:59
New Suez CanalEgypt is testing out its "new" Suez Canal, having sent the first cargo ships through today (Saturday) in a trial run.
 
The 72 kilometer-long canal lies close to the original route but will be able to handle larger ships and two-way traffic. The project has been moving quickly. Construction began less than a year ago, compared to the 10 years it took to build the original.
 
Out of concern over Islamic militants spread throughout the Sinai peninsula, today's test was held under strict security, involving naval ships and helicopters.
 
The Suez canal is one of the most heavily trafficked paths in the world, hosting seven percent of all seaborne business. It is also one of Egypt's main sources of income. According to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the new additions will increase trade and employment.
 
The second route is expected to cost about $8.5 billion, and is being carried out by the Egyptian military. The opening ceremony will be held on August 6.

Wanted Egyptian Terrorist Calls for 'Holy War' Against Sisi

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 29 July 2015 20:43
Hisham al-AshmawyOne of Egypt's most wanted men, a former special forces officer turned Islamist terrorist commander, condemned President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday and called for a holy war against his government, Reuters reported.
 
An audio message attributed to Hisham al-Ashmawy, who security officials suspect masterminded the recent car bomb assassination of Egypt's top prosecutor, said the country is "overpowered by the new pharaoh" Sisi.
 
Ashmawy is part of a small but highly dangerous succession of former Egyptian army officers who have joined jihadist groups, complicating Sisi's efforts to confront what he calls an existential threat from extremism.
 
With their knowledge of the Arab world's biggest army and training, they pose a security threat to Egypt which faces an insurgency based in northern Sinai, noted Reuters.
 
"All of you must come together to confront your enemy. Do not fear them, but fear Allah if you are truly believers," said the audio message, which was carried by the monitoring group SITE.
 
The message, according to Reuters, was posted on July 20 on an Al-Qaeda-affiliated forum and coincided with the Eid al-Fitr holiday just marked by Muslims.
 
The audio message features two pictures of Ashmawy in military uniform. He is identified by the nom de guerre of Abu Omar al-Muhajir al-Masri and as Emir of the Al-Murabiteen group.
 
According to Reuters, Ashmawy, who has been on the run for years, formed a cell within the Sinai Province terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and has claimed most of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in the restive Sinai.
 
In his message, Ashmawy accused Sisi "and his soldiers" of fighting "our religion" and killing "our men and women".
 
Among the attacks claimed by the Sinai Province since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks from the Sinai Peninsula on southern Israel.
 
Sisi, who as army chief ousted Morsi following popular protests calling on him to go, has led a crackdown on terrorist groups since becoming president.
 
As part of the crackdown, the Egyptian army imposed a curfew on Gaza and then began building a buffer zone along the border, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish which killed dozens of soldiers. Egypt accuses Gaza’s Hamas rulers of assisting Sinai terrorists with attacks, though Hamas denies the accusations.

ISIS Hits Egyptian Patrol Ship With a Rocket

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 26 July 2015 12:29
ISIS Hits Egyptian Patrol ShipIslamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Sinai fired a rocket at an Egyptian patrol ship in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, scoring a direct hit and setting it on fire.
 
The coastguard ship noticed the group of ISIS terrorists on the shore and exchanged fire with them, according to Egyptian military statements and witnesses cited by the UK Daily Mail. The ship was two miles off the coast of northern Sinai, and roughly two miles from the coast of Gaza.
 
After the gunfight continued for a certain amount of time, the jihadists unleashed the rocket which caused the ship to retreat. According to the military, no soldiers were killed although several reportedly suffered minor burns.
 
Egyptian army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir wrote on Facebook that there no one on board was killed, but he did not detail how much damage was sustained to the ship or what type of craft it was.
 
Security officials said the ship and others like it regularly patrol the area, and also are used often to transport soldiers and police officers from Sinai to the rest of Egypt.
 
ISIS has been active in Sinai launching numerous large-scale attacks on Egyptian soldiers, ever since last November when the Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis jihadist group pledged loyalty to ISIS and joined the group, switching its name to Sinai Province.
 
ISIS has been expanding its presence as well; on Saturday the group attacked the Italian consulate in Cairo, marking its first strike on a Western target in the country.

Palestinian Cleric: ISIS Will Give 'Settlements' to Muslims

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 19 July 2015 08:48
Issam AmiraMuslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, if still Egyptian president, would have conquered Israel by now, a Palestinian Arab preacher insisted on the Temple Mount earlier this month. 
 
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) revealed Sunday a clip of preacher Issam Amira lamenting the change in Egyptian regime in a July 1 sermon on the Mount. 
 
There, he insists that if Morsi would have murdered "collaborators," Egypt would "have been all the way to Zikhron Yaakov [a city just south of Haifa - ed.] by now." Morsi was ousted in 2013. 
 
"The problem is that under normal circumstances, a soldier does not take action unless he receives orders," he explained. "It is called “military hierarchy.” There is a commander, beneath whom there is a lesser officer, and so on, with the soldier at the bottom. Unless there are orders, the soldier does not act."
 
"Without orders, there can be no fighting," he continued. "If a soldier receives orders to fall back, he has no choice but to comply, or else he is court martialed and executed for disobeying a military order. Hence, the solution is to replace the commanders of the armies." 
 
"If Morsi, when he came to power, had arrested 60-70 officers from among the American collaborators in the military, and hanged them from the gallows, or even executed them in secret, and had replaced them with pure military commanders, the Egyptian army would have been all the way to Zikhron Yaakov by now," he added.
 
He then made a few predictions about Islamic State (ISIS) in Egypt. 
 
"They shall destroy the Jewish entity, and all the aspects of sovereignty that they have established, but I do not think that the Islamic army will destroy everything that they have built – the settlements, the airports, and the factories," he said. "Allah willing, these will be taken as booty by the Muslims."

ISIS Bombs the Italian Consulate in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 12 July 2015 11:03
Italian Consulate in CairoIslamic State (ISIS) terrorists claimed responsibility for a lethal car bomb attack on the Italian consulate in central Cairo on Saturday, in an explosion that killed one Egyptian and left ten others wounded according to a health ministry spokesperson.
 
The blast nearly completely destroyed the main entrance to the consulate, shattering windows and flooding the building by causing water pipes to burst. It was possible to hear the blast from various neighborhoods around the capital city.
 
According to the state news agency MENA, two policemen were among the ten wounded.
 
In a message online, ISIS wrote, "through God's blessing, Islamic State soldiers were able to detonate a parked car bomb carrying 450 kg of explosive material on the headquarters of the Italian consulate in central Cairo."
 
"We recommend that Muslims stay clear of these security dens because they are legitimate targets for the mujahideen's (jihadists') strikes," it added, warning of future attacks on sites like the consulate.
 
ISIS has targeted Egyptian soldiers and policemen up until now, with the attack on the Italian consulate constituting the first attack on a Western target.
 
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni reported that no Italian citizens were wounded in the blast, adding, "Italy will not be intimidated."
 
Egypt has been engaged in a fierce struggle against ISIS forces in Sinai, where the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis recently swore allegiance to ISIS and changed its name to Sinai Province.
 
The terrorist group has been responsible for several massive lethal attacks, including a multi-pronged assault earlier this month that left 50 Egyptian soldiers dead.

Egyptian Bank Claims Part Ownership of King David Hotel

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 09 July 2015 22:09
david hotel jerusalemAn Egyptian government-owned bank has launched a five million shekel (around $1.3 million) lawsuit over its lost shares in Jerusalem's prestigious King David Hotel, which were bought before the establishment of the modern Jewish state in 1948.
 
Banque Misr, which has 500 branches in Egypt and around the world, filed its lawsuit via Israeli lawyers Ron Yeshayahu and Gil Makov at the Jerusalem District Court calling for the restoration of 1,000 stocks in the hotel, the Calcalist reported Monday.
 
King David Hotel, which is currently owned by Dan Hotels, is perhaps Israel's most famous hotel, and has hosted visiting presidents and prime ministers on numerous occasions. It was built by Jewish Egyptian businessmen in 1929, and as part of the initial investment Egypt's Zilka Bank purchased 1,000 shares.
 
Zilka Bank was merged with another bank in the 1960s when then-Egyptian President Jamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Nile state's banks, thereby created the current Banque Misr.
 
The Israeli government has yet to submit a defense against the lawsuit.
 
Banque Misr made a previous bid for its shares in 2008, at which time the state rested its case on a Supreme Court ruling that accepted the position of the hotel's custodian, which argued that the stocks are absentee property that had transferred to its authority according to the laws concerning absentee property.
 
However, the new lawsuit claims that the Supreme Court ruled the custodian must transfer to the stockholder the compensation that it received from the sale of the stocks, if it is proven that there is no doubt that the plaintiff has rights to the stocks.
 
The 2008 attempt by Banque Misr came after Arab Israeli lawyer Ashraf Jasser told the bank it has rights to the hotel shares.
 
Jasser was tasked by the bank with filing a lawsuit, but he cheated the bank by claiming that submission of the suit cost ten million shekels (roughly $2.6 million) in court fees. He paid the actual court fees of 975 shekels ($258) and stole the rest of the money.
 
For his theft and fraud, the Arab lawyer was sentenced to nine years in prison by the Haifa District Court two years ago.

Egypt Kills 63 Jihadists in the Sinai

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 12:00
Apache helicopterEgypt's military on Sunday launched airstrikes and ground operations that killed 63 Islamists in North Sinai, security sources said, according to the Reuters news agency.
 
The Sinai has recently witnessed some of the heaviest fighting between security forces and Islamists since the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
 
Security sources said on Sunday that troops killed the 63 in villages between the towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, Reuters reported.
 
The army found four hideouts and attacked them with Apache helicopters and ground troops. It also attacked vehicles belonging to the militants, the security sources added.
 
Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, recently renamed Sinai Province, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since Morsi’s removal.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Though the vast peninsula has long been a security headache for Egypt and its neighbors, the removal of Morsi brought new violence that has grown into an Islamist insurgency that has spread out of the region.
 
Just last week, the Islamists carried out a multi-pronged attack in which some 50 Egyptian soldiers were killed.
 
Egyptian government officials have accused Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood of links to Sinai attacks. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement that wants to reverse what it calls a military coup through street protests.
 
Egypt's interior ministry said on Sunday it had arrested 12 Brotherhood members who had formed three cells with the intention of carrying out attacks on policemen, soldiers and military and police bases, according to Reuters.
 
Also on Sunday, the prosecutors referred to trial 22 people charged with planting bombs near targets including the high court and cabinet buildings, state news agency MENA reported.
 
On Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said that Egypt had foiled an attempt by the Islamic State (ISIS) group to seize territory and set up an extremist state in the Sinai.
 
Sisi praised Egyptian troops for “foiling a very big plan” and added, “No one can impose on the Egyptians something they don’t want. To reach the Egyptians they have to pass through the army, the sons of Egypt.”

Sisi: We Foiled an ISIS Attempt to Set Up State in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 10:24
ISIS Attempt to Set Up State in SinaiEgyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi on Saturday said that Egypt had foiled an attempt by the Islamic State (ISIS) group to seize territory and set up an extremist state in the Sinai, reports The Associated Press (AP).
 
Speaking to members of the army in a televised speech which marked his first public remarks since Wednesday’s multi-pronged jihadist attack in the restive peninsula, Sisi said the jihadists had tried to announce “an Islamic state, in their concept, an Islamic State in Sinai” .
 
“These are the messages, very simply, that they are putting out to us,” said the president, adding that the area was now under control.
 
Sisi praised the troops for “foiling a very big plan” and added, “No one can impose on the Egyptians something they don’t want. To reach the Egyptians they have to pass through the army, the sons of Egypt.”
 
Wednesday’s attack, which was claimed by the Sinai Province, ISIS’ affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula, lasted a whole day and was unprecedented in its size and coordination. The attack hit a string of army checkpoints and involved multiple suicide bombings and the siege of a main police station with heavy weapons.
 
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday blamed the past week’s violence on the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which it said was not only the main source of Islamic extremism, but also coordinated operations on the ground.
 
“All of these attacks were conducted days apart, and showed a level of sophistication and coordination that affirms the presence of organized terrorist activity perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood,” it said in a statement given to reporters on Saturday and quoted by AP.
 
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the timing of the recent attacks make the associations between the Brotherhood and Daesh extremists “apparent,” using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
 
“This is a matter of motives... I, as I think any Egyptian on the street, will make the educated presumption that this was perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the (online) sites of Muslim Brotherhood rejoiced at the fact,” he said, according to AP.
 
Hours after Wednesday’s attack, Egypt's government adopted an anti-terror law which it said would provide "means to drain the sources of terrorism financing."
 
Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the Sinai over the last few years.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
On Friday, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack from the Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel.

ISIS in Egypt: More Than Meets the Eye

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 July 2015 21:42
ISIS in EgyptISIS's escalating campaign against the Egyptian government - culminating in the assassination of the country's chief prosecutor and yesterday's bloody attacks in the Sinai Peninsula - have raised a great deal of questions vis-a-vis the extent and nature of the jihadist group's presence in the Arab world's most populous country.
 
Is ISIS's Egyptian branch - the so-called "Sinai Province" of its "Islamic State" - cooperating with Hamas, or trying to overthrow it? How has ISIS in Sinai managed to withstand a prolonged military assault by the Egyptian army to emerge apparently as strong as ever? How much of a threat does it pose to Israel? Could ISIS really be in a position to carve out a de-facto state in Egypt, as it has in parts of neighboring Libya?
 
In answering these questions Professor Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center For Strategic Studies (BESA), cautions that ISIS's battle with Egypt is far more complicated than its operations in other countries.
 
For a start, the Egyptian army and government present a far tougher foe than any other targeted directly by an official ISIS affiliate.
 
"It's all very well taking over parts of Syria or Iraq," both failed states without effective central government, "but in Egypt they are fighting against a functioning state," albeit a somewhat embattled one.
 
In Libya too, where ISIS has set up a mini statelet, the jihadists are operating amid a total power vacuum, in a country split among numerous warring militias. 
 
To do the same in Egypt - even in the relatively lawless Sinai Peninsula - would be far more difficult, Inbar asserts.
 
"Egypt is determined to enforce its sovereignty over the Sinai," says Inbar.
 
However, Egypt is hamstrung by a number of factors, which have enabled ISIS to withstand and even push back against army offensives.
 
Firstly, there is the fact that Egypt's ability to deploy in the Sinai Peninsula is somewhat limited by the terms of its peace treaty with Israel, which prevents any large-scale deployments without prior consent from Jerusalem.
 
In practice, however, this has not been much of an issue. The close cooperation and clear mutual interest shared by the two countries in dealing with the jihadist threat has meant that Israel is giving the green light to any Egyptian army offensives or airstrikes against jihadists in the Sinai.
 
More significantly then is the fact that in a general sense, the Egyptian central government simply has not invested enough - militarily, economically or administratively - in what is essentially a peripheral province, at a time when it is still consolidating its control over the rest of the country.
 
Somewhat paradoxically, another factor which counts in ISIS's favor in Egypt is its very inability to overthrow the central government. That reality has forced it to pursue more limited, low-cost objectives: perpetuating and expanding the state of lawlessness, and its own foothold, in Sinai, while continuing to carry out individual, high-profile terrorist attacks.
 
This means that, relatively-speaking, "Daesh (ISIS) operations in Sinai are not an expensive effort," says Inbar, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. Moreover, the fact that "ISIS Sinai Province" - formerly the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terror group - is an official "Wilayat" or "Province" of the so-called Islamic State, means it has at least some access to the swollen coffers of the world's richest terrorist group to fund the costs it does incur.
 
Finally, the group - both in its current incarnation and previous ones - "has been smuggling weapons for years," giving it time to build up an extensive arsenal.
 
But Inbar also speculates that other regional actors could be helping to fuel the ISIS insurgency in Egypt to further their own agendas.
 
He points to evidence of cooperation between ISIS and Hamas, which is itself at odds with the Sisi regime - though he acknowledges that with the inroads made by ISIS in Gaza this cooperation may well have broken down, as the Hamas regime now sees ISIS as a threat to its own power.
 
"There is some kind of sense of Islamic brotherhood - but at the same time remember they are competitors," both strategically and ideologically, says Inbar, explaining the complicated relationship between the two Islamist groups.
 
For a start, "Hamas is more of a nationalist-Islamic radical group, whereas ISIS is transnational."
 
But beyond the alleged Hamas connection - highlighted by both Israel and Egypt, even as Hamas denies such links exist - Inbar also suggests another of Cairo's regional foes may be playing a role behind the scenes.
 
"I wouldn't be surprised if there is Turkish input in trying to destabilize the Sisi regime," Inbar posits, pointing to the evidence of Turkish collusion and possibly even support for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, where Ankara has seen the jihadists as a convenient tool to block Kurdish autonomy.
 
Turkey's Islamist government - which has strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas - similarly has an interest in weakening the anti-Islamist military government in Cairo.
 
So how should Israel deal with an ISIS presence along its southern border?
 
Cautiously, and with restraint, says Inbar.
 
Despite being the only ISIS affiliate bordering Israel, "Sinai Province" has had its hands full fighting the Egyptian army, and has not carried out any major attacks against Israel in the past few years.
 
Close cooperation between Israel and Egypt to contain ISIS means that situation is likely to continue, he says.
 
"Certainly it is a threat for Israel, but it's much more of a threat for Egypt and the Egyptian army right now."
 
For that reason, while Israel cannot afford to sit on its laurels, it must also continue to allow Egypt to play the lead roll.
 
"There is a great deal of cooperation to contain Daesh - they are trying and we are trying to prevent it (from attacking us).
 
"But everything Israel does should be coordinated with Egypt. Sometimes it's better to stay on the sidelines."

Egypt May 'Invite' IDF to Strike ISIS in Gaza

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 July 2015 12:28
Egypt-IDF to Strike ISIS in GazaAn Egyptian source has revealed that if after launching a brutal attack in Sinai the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group approaches Gaza, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may "invite" the IDF to strike it.
 
The source, who is "familiar with Egypt's decision-making process," told Haaretz on Thursday that Sisi may give the green light given that Gaza falls under Israel's responsibility.
 
"The two armies may already be coordinating in preparation for such a possibility," revealed the source. "The Egyptian problem is that a military campaign inside Gaza could lead to breaking down the fences and a mass flight of civilians from Gaza to Sinai."
 
The statement comes after Sinai Province, ISIS's affiliate in the region, conducted a massive coordinated string of attacks on Wednesday that left over 50 Egyptian soldiers dead.
 
Sinai Province, which was formerly Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis before swearing allegiance to ISIS and changing its name, has reportedly captured the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid and has mined the roads to block Egyptian forces from entering.
 
ISIS may spread its control to the city of El Arish, and thereby encroach on Gaza, leading to the potential cooperation between Egypt and the IDF.
 
In a video on Tuesday, ISIS threatened to topple Hamas, and likewise threatened the "state of the Jews."
 
Egypt has been willing in the past to confront Hamas, which is a Gazan offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that Sisi's government has violently been putting down.
 
Aside from imposing a siege on Gaza, Egypt has evacuated over 2,000 homes on the Gaza border in occupying part of southern Gaza and creating a buffer zone to block the smuggling of arms between Hamas and Sinai terrorists.
 
Haaretz notes that many of the Gazan evacuees, who were not compensated for their demolished homes or offered alternative housing, have moved to El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, and may be tempted to join forces with ISIS, which pays comfortable wages to its members.

Egypt Passes Anti-Terror Law Hours after Sinai Attack

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 July 2015 18:52
Egypt Passes Anti-Terror LawEgypt's government on Wednesday night adopted a controversial anti-terror law and requested a faster court appeals process, AFP reports.
 
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who vowed to adopt tougher measures following the killing of state prosecutor Hisham Barakat on Monday, is expected to swiftly ratify the law, the report said.
 
Wednesday's draft law will provide "means to drain the sources of terrorism financing," a cabinet statement said.
 
Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim Henaidy told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that the new law will "stipulate harsher punishment" to those convicted of "belonging to a terrorist group...committing terrorist acts or had used violence".
 
The law will also widen the powers of "investigators of terrorist crimes," grant new authorities to the prosecution, and "facilitate procedures to inspect and examine bank accounts," of suspects, Henaidy said.
 
The new law was adopted hours after a multi-pronged jihadist attack against the Egyptian military in the Sinai Peninsula left up to 50 Egyptian soldiers dead.
 
The attacks, which were claimed by a terrorist group linked to the Islamic State (ISIS), included a suicide car bomb detonated against a military checkpoint at Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai, which caused most of the casualties.
 
There were also apparently multiple attacks on other military checkpoints and an explosive device was detonated on a major highway.
 
In July 2013, then army chief Sisi deposed his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi and has overseen a brutal crackdown against his supporters, leaving hundreds dead and thousands jailed.
 
Since Morsi’s overthrow, Egypt has been facing a Sinai-based insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.
 
Sinai Province, a group affiliated with ISIS formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the Sinai over the last few years.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
In another recent attack, members of the group killed two Egyptian judges and a prosecutor in the Sinai, in an attack which came hours after a court in Cairo sentenced Morsi to death for his role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
 
The leader of Sinai Province later called on the group’s followers to continue to attack local judges.

Sinai: Egypt Air Force Hits ISIS Positions After Deadly Assault

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 July 2015 11:53
Egypt Air ForceEgyptian air force F-16 fighter jets pounded jihadist positions in the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel, Wednesday afternoon.
 
The airstrikes were in response to a deadly coordinated attack against 15 separate military positions by an affiliate of the ISIS terrorist group, which left at least 50 Egyptian soldiers dead.
 
Egyptian security officials said jets hit ISIS positions in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, where terrorists had virtually taken over the town, setting barricades, beseiging the local police station and mining the streets.
 
The "Sinai Province" of the Islamic State (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after it took place. The jihadist assault involved three suicide bombers and among other things targeted an Egyptian army officers' club.
 
The attack came just one day after Egypt's President Sisi vowed to crackdown on Islamist terrorists, following the assassination of Egypt's top prosecutor in a Cairo bombing on Monday that was also claimed by ISIS.
 
Under Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, airstrikes and other major military deployments in the Sinai Peninsula require Israeli approval, since it is technically a demilitarized zone. Israel has been quick to approve Egyptian offensives against the jihadists on its borders in the past, but Wednesday's attack underscores the resilience of the terrorists, who have been waged a years-long insurgency against the Egyptian government.

Egypt Kills 22 Suspected Terrorists in the Sinai

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 18:42
Egypt Kills Terrorists in the SinaiEgyptian security forces on Monday killed 22 suspected terrorists who were planning to target security forces in the restive North Sinai province, security sources said, according to Reuters.
 
The sources said security forces struck a group of people meeting outside a mosque south of the town of Sheikh Zuwayed who were planning an attack on security points.
 
They also targeted a vehicle with four militants and two more riding a motorcycle, the report said.
 
Earlier Monday at least eight policemen and civilians were wounded when explosions hit two houses in El-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, security and medical sources said.
 
Terrorists had planted two bombs in two adjacent houses, both inhabited by police, the sources were quoted by Reuters as having said. The force of the explosions led to the collapse of large parts of the homes, injuring three policemen and five civilians.
 
The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.
 
Egypt is facing a Sinai-based insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013.
 
Sinai Province, a group affiliated with the Islamic State and formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the Sinai over the last few years.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Most recently, members of the group killed two Egyptian judges and a prosecutor in the Sinai, in an attack which came hours after a court in Cairo sentenced Morsi to death for his role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
 
The leader of Sinai Province later called on the group’s followers to continue to attack local judges.

Morsi's Lawyers Appeal Jail Sentence

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 June 2015 09:43
Morsi Death SentenceLawyers for Egypt's deposed Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, on Thursday appealed his sentencing to 20 years in prison for the arrest and torture of protesters during his mandate, AFP reported.
 
Morsi, who was ousted by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013, was convicted in April over the protest outside a Cairo presidential palace in December 2012.
 
He was accused of ordering violence to be used against protesters to disperse them.
 
"We had to appeal before the time available to do so expired," defense lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told AFP.
 
He said he had submitted the request "in his capacity as legal representative of Mr. Morsi".
 
Abdel Maqsud said he had not been able to consult his client in advance, but did say that Morsi "refuses to appeal," as he considers himself still to be president and rejects the legitimacy of his judges.
 
The Islamist former president faces several trials in Egypt. On Tuesday, a court upheld a death sentence against Morsi for plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the country's 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
 
The sentence was originally given last month, but a final ruling on it had been postponed until June 16 pending consultations with Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's highest religious authority.
 
It also sentenced Morsi to life in prison on charges of spying for the Palestinian Hamas movement, Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah and Iran.

Egyptian Court Upholds Mohammed Morsi Death Sentence

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 10:28
court upheld the death sentenceAn Egyptian court upheld the death sentence handed down to former President Mohammed Morsi on Tuesday.
 
The sentence was originally given last month, but a final ruling on it had been postponed until June 16 pending consultations with Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's highest religious authority.
 
Five other leading Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood - including Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie - also had their death sentences upheld by the court.
 
In addition to the death sentence ruling, the court also confirmed a lifetime prison sentence for Morsi over charges of espionage on behalf of Hamas and other foreign terrorist groups.
 
Morsi's was sentenced to death along with dozens of others over a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising against the rule of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. 
 
In 2012, Morsi was elected president, but was deposed just one year later by yet another popular uprising, backed by the Egyptian military.
 
Egypt's current leadership, headed by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has cracked down hard on Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch - Hamas - accusing them of fomenting armed rebellions against the government, particularly in the restive Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel.

Suicide Bomber Strikes Iconic Egyptian Temple

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 June 2015 17:12
Lucor TempleThe ancient iconic Egyptian temple of Karnak in Luxor, a southern city and key tourist destination, was struck by a suicide bomber on Wednesday according to security officials.
 
A senior interior ministry source told the state-run MENA that no one was wounded in the attack, but revealed two other suicide attacks at the same temple were foiled by police, reports the Associated Press.
 
The attack on the famous temple that overlooks the Nile from the east was the first since November 1997, when Islamist terrorists shot at tourists at the city's 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut Temple, murdering 58 people.
 
Luxor is dependent on tourism, and is home to notable tombs such as that of King Tutankhamun. Since the 2011 "Arab Spring" and the unrest caused by it, the city has seen a spiral in its economic fortunes.
 
In fact, the most recent attack comes just at a time when Luxor had started to witness some economic recovery, and it is feared the resurgent violence may dash the hopes of locals wishing for stability.
 
No terrorist organization immediately took responsibility for the latest attack.
 
It comes at quite a distance from the Sinai Peninsula, where Salafist groups have been running riot and attacking Egyptian security forces for many long months.
 
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in Sinai pledged allegiance to the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) last year, and notably ISIS has been destroying famous archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq which they considered to be pagan.

Egypt Blasts HRW Over Report on Human Rights Abuses

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 June 2015 14:52
Muslim Brotherhood 10Egypt on Tuesday lashed out at a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report condemning "flagrant human rights abuses" during the first year of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's rule, AFP reports.
 
The watchdog released its report on the first anniversary of the inauguration of Sisi, who was sworn in on June 8, 2014, after having ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
 
"The report is politicized and lacks the basic rules of precision and objectivity," the foreign ministry said in a statement, accusing HRW of “victimizing” Egypt.
 
The report reflected HRW's "endorsement of terrorist operations and supports those who carry out acts of violence", charged the ministry.
 
It also accused the New York-based group of "leading a systematic campaign against Egypt".
 
HRW charged Monday that "over the past year, Sisi and his cabinet have provided near total impunity for security force abuses and issued a raft of laws that severely curtailed civil and political rights".
 
Since the Egyptian army ousted Morsi, there has been a crackdown on supporters of his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
 
As part of that crackdown, Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death in recent months, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.
 
Rights groups accuse Sisi of establishing a regime more repressive than that of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in a 2011 popular uprising.
 
HRW’s accusations surfaced a day after The Associated Press (AP) revealed the contents of a report sent by the Obama administration to Congress, which accuses the Egyptian government of undermining democracy.
 
The report recommends, however, that the U.S. continue sending Egypt $1.3 billion in mostly military aid.

Sinai Terrorists Claim Rocket Attack on UN Airport

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 June 2015 12:00
Sinai Terrorists fires rocketsSinai Province, Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, fired rockets at the direction of an airport in Sinai used by UN peacekeeping forces on Tuesday night, Reuters reported.
 
Security sources told the news agency there were no casualties in the attack. Details of the attack were not immediately clear, with some sources saying the rockets fell inside the airport and others saying they fell outside.
 
Sinai Province claimed responsibility for the attack on several Twitter accounts linked to it, according to Reuters.
 
Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula over the last few years.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Most recently, members of the group killed two Egyptian judges and a prosecutor in the Sinai, in an attack which came hours after a court in Cairo sentenced ousted president Mohammed Morsi to death for his role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
 
The leader of Sinai Province later called on the group’s followers to continue to attack local judges.

Top Muslim Imam Blames West for ISIS

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 13 June 2015 11:23
Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Imam of al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar UniversityThe West has an interest in the "fragmentation" of the Islamic world and is partly to blame for the rise of Islamic State (ISIS), one of the world's top Muslim clerics claimed to AFP in an interview on Tuesday.
 
Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar in Florence, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, strongly criticized Western powers and particularly the United States.
 
Describing himself as "an ordinary citizen" given that the Sunni Muslim seat of learning has no political role, the imam said: "The emergence of Daesh (an Arabic term for ISIS) in such a spontaneous manner leads us to ask what are the deep causes.
 
"And the man in the Arab street thinks that the West has something to do with it. The arms Daesh has are American, they are not made in the Arab world.
 
"ISIS developed so quickly and that required enormous amounts of capital. Where did these enormous sums of money come from? The man in the street says the West is not serious about taking on Daesh."
 
Trying to support his conspiracy theory, Tayeb cited three parachute drops of arms which ended up in the arms of ISIS fighters.
 

"They said it was a mistake," he said, while sidestepping a question about the documented role of some Arab states, notably in the Gulf, in the development and financing of ISIS.

 
"If the world order - otherwise said: America and the world - had wanted Arab cooperation in dismantling ISIS and its sisters and daughters, they could have done it in a single day.
 
"The world order wants chaos, it seems it has the intention of fragmenting our region and ISIS is a very effective instrument. The ISIS performs a function for the great powers who do not want to see this region develop alongside Israel."
 
Egypt "convalescing"
 
Changing topics, the imam said he would be happy to meet the pope but played down the importance of such an encounter. "If everything was in the hands of the pope or other religious leaders the thing could be resolved very quickly."
 
"But the question is not about the pope or Al-Azhar, it depends on the political regimes which plan military, economic and financial policy. It is the powers that have military bases and fleets in Arab waters."
 
Asked about death sentences issued to members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tayeb declined to offer any criticism of the military-backed government.
 
"I see that Egypt has overcome the problem. It is a stable country with a fundamental law under which a president was elected, and that was a democratic choice, completely democratic.
 
"Egypt is convalescing but we are are seeing an influx of investors who are returning," he said.
 
Asked about the Syrian and Iraqi Christians forced to flee their homes at the hands of ISIS, the imam replied: "ISIS has killed more Muslims than Christians.
 
"If you look at the percentages of victims, you will see that ISIS is an enemy of the Arab and Muslim world, and is perhaps working in secret coordination to fragment the Arab world."
 
The imam did not explain how the US-led Western coalition conducting an extensive and expensive airstrike campaign to fight ISIS fits in to his conspiracy theory blaming the West for ISIS.

Obama Administration Criticizes Egypt in Report to Congress

Category: News
Created on Friday, 12 June 2015 22:04
أوباما-pgThe Obama administration has sent Congress a report that harshly criticizes the Egyptian government, accusing it of restricting free speech, arresting political dissidents and undermining democracy, The Associated Press (AP) reported Monday.
 
The report recommends, however, that the U.S. continue sending it $1.3 billion in mostly military aid.
 
The report, quietly submitted to lawmakers last month, said that while Egypt has implemented some democratic reforms, "the overall trajectory of rights and democracy has been negative."
 
The six-page report, which the administration is required to send to Congress, said human rights and civil activists have reported a "steadily shrinking space for political dissent" that has prompted them to censor their activities or leave the country, according to AP.
 
"Except in rare instances, police and security forces have not been held accountable for alleged human rights violations," the report said.
 
The Obama administration expressed concern for Egypt's decision to expand the jurisdiction of military courts to try civilians.
 
"An unknown number of individuals accused of various crimes have spent extended periods in pretrial detention without charge," the report said, according to AP. "Conditions in prisons and detention centers are harsh due to overcrowding, physical abuse, inadequate medical care and poor ventilation."
 
The report also said the Egyptian government has investigated and prosecuted its critics for inciting violence and insulting government institutions or public officials.
 
"The Egyptian government has also closed media outlets, whose coverage of events does not comport with its narrative, and censored stories that present it in an unfavorable light," it said.
 
Washington has expressed concerned about the transition to democracy in Egypt ever since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
 
In late March, President Barack Obama released military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the 2013 overthrow of the government.
 
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
 
Current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi recently appealed to the United States to play a greater role in helping his country fight terrorism, telling Fox News that while the U.S. has helped Egypt for decades, Egypt needs that help "more than ever," and wants to see a "big response from capable countries."

Egypt Court Overturns Hamas Blacklisting

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 09 June 2015 21:58
Court Overturns Hamas BlacklistingAn Egyptian court on Saturday overturned a February decision by another tribunal branding Hamas a "terrorist" group, a court official said, according to AFP.
 
The official told the news agency that the earlier ruling was thrown out because the court that issued it was not "competent" to make such verdicts.
 
The February ruling came after a lawyer petitioned the court to classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, accusing it of using underground tunnels to smuggle weapons into Egypt.
 
But in March the government appealed against the ruling, which took ties between Hamas and Egyptian authorities to a new low.
 
The Islamist movement had strongly condemned the February verdict, which came a month after Hamas’s “military wing”, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was designated as a terrorist organization by Egypt at the beginning of February.
 
Egypt is a traditional broker between Israel and Hamas.
 
On Saturday, the group issued a brief statement saying that the new ruling corrects "a wrong decision".
 
"Hamas welcomes the Egyptian court's decision," it added, according to AFP.
 
Hamas has been the subject of a crackdown by Egyptian authorities ever since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
The military-led government that ousted Morsi has cracked down on Hamas, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.
 
After the October attack, the Egyptian military stepped up a campaign to build a buffer zone along the border. The buffer zone was initially planned to be 500 meters wide, but Egypt later decided to expand it by another 500 meters.

Egyptian Army Destroyed 521 Gaza Tunnels over Last 6 Months

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 21:49
Tunnels Along the Gaza BorderEgyptian security forces have destroyed more than 500 tunnels infiltrating Egypt from Gaza, according to state media.
 
Egyptian military spokesman Mohammed Samir told the state-owned Al-Ahram daily that the army had uncovered 521 tunnel entrances from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula over the past six months, including 63 openings located between 1-2.8 km from the border.
 
The Sinai Peninsula has seen a series of major military operations by Egyptian forces aimed at rooting-out Islamist terrorists conducting an insurgency against the central government, many of whom have links to terrorists organizations inside Gaza.
 
As part of operations, Egypt has sought to shut down the complex and extensive network of smuggling tunnels from Gaza, used to transfer both commercial goods as well as weapons and fighters in and out of the Hamas-run enclave.
 
Earlier this month, Cairo claimed the Egyptian army had killed 725 jihadists in operations the past six months.
 
But terrorists have still managed to launch deadly attacks of their own, particularly in Sinai's restive northern region.
 
As part of its crackdown in the Sinai, Egypt is working to establish a buffer zone along the border with Gaza. The buffer was initially planned to be 500 meters wide, but was later expanded by another 500 meters.
 
In establishing the buffer zone, Egypt has destroyed at least 1,220 homes belonging mostly to Palestinian Arabs in the city of Rafah, which straddles the border with Gaza, and "evacuated" their residents elsewhere.

Egyptian Court: We Can't Designate Israel a 'Terrorist State'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:02
egypt-supreme courtA court in Egypt on Monday rejected a lawsuit demanding the designation of Israel as a “terrorist state”, The Cairo Post reported.
 
According to the report, the Abdeen Court of Urgent Matters stated it has no legal authority to consider the suit, which was filed by the Nedal Center for Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF).
 
The group, which filed the case against the Egyptian President, Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense, asked them to issue a decree labelling Israel a “terrorist state.”
 
NCHRF cited alleged “human rights violations” committed by Israel, as well as supposed Israeli-led espionage cases in Egypt between 1985 and 2013, according to The Cairo Post.
 
The case also called for banning the sale of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and Liberation newspaper in Egypt over “blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.”
 
The court in question is the same court which previously banned the activities of the April 6 Youth Movement, and which blacklisted Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades and the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Two years ago, the Cairo Administrative Court ruled that it has no jurisdiction over a lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
 
The 1979 treaty has been increasingly put in question since the 2011 revolution which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
 
Under the regime of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, there were calls to urgently change the peace treaty with Israel, with an adviser to the Islamist president saying that in its current form, the historic treaty maintains the national security of the “Zionist enemy” more than it helps Egypt's national security.
 
Despite the calls, Morsi maintained the peace treaty, though at one he rejected an Israeli request to upgrade the relations between the countries and also recalled the Egyptian ambassador to Israel in protest of Israel’s counterterrorism Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in late 2012.
 
Current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said before he was elected that he would be willing to consider making changes to the peace agreement with Israel.

Sinai Jihadist Leader Calls for Attacks on Local Judges

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 21 May 2015 12:57
jihadis-sinaiThe leader of Sinai Province, a terrorist group in Egypt with links to the Islamic State,on Wednesday called on followers to attack local judges, Reuters reported.
 
The call was made in an audio statement posted on a prominent jihadist website.
 
It appeared days after six members of the group were executed for an attack on soldiers in Cairo last year, and follows a court's decision on Saturday to seek the death penalty for ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
"It is wrong for the tyrants to jail our brothers," cleric Abu Osama al-Masry was quoted as having said, referring to judges.
 
"Poison their food... surveil them at home and in the street... destroy their homes with explosives if you can," he added.
 
Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the recording.
 
Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, is a Sinai-based terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The Egyptian army imposed a curfew on Gaza on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by the group.

EU Denounces Morsi Death Sentence

Category: News
Created on Monday, 18 May 2015 09:43
Morsi Death SentenceThe European Union (EU) on Sunday denounced the death sentence handed down to Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi and at least 100 others, noting the penalty stemmed from a flawed trial, according to AFP.
 
"The court decision to seek the death penalty... was taken at the end of a mass trial that was not in line with Egypt's obligations under international law," the EU's top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
 
She added that Egypt has to guarantee defendants' rights to a fair trial and to an independent investigation, nothing the EU believes the sentence will be revised upon appeal.
 
"The EU opposes capital punishment under all circumstances," Mogherini said. "The death penalty is cruel and inhumane."
 
The United States also expressed alarm Sunday at the death sentences, saying it has "consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences".
 
Morsi was among more than 100 defendants ordered by a court on Saturday to face the death penalty for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday night blasted Egypt for the death sentence, saying it meant that "Egypt is turning back into ancient Egypt.”
 
"The West, unfortunately, is still turning a blind eye to Sisi's coup," he continued, referring to current President and former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president after winning elections last year.

Erdogan Condemns Egypt Over Morsi Death Sentence

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 17 May 2015 10:17
Erdogan R Mohamed Mursi  AFPTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday night blasted Egypt for sentencing ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death, AFP reported.
 
"The popularly elected president of Egypt, chosen with 52 percent of the vote, has unfortunately been sentenced to death," he said at a rally in Istanbul, to howls of protest from the crowd.
 
"Egypt is turning back into ancient Egypt," Erdogan charged, referring to the old Pharaonic rule of the land that ended over two millennia ago.
 
"The West, unfortunately, is still turning a blind eye to Sisi's coup," he continued, referring to current President and former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president after winning elections last year.
 
"While they (the West) abolished the death penalty in their own countries, they just look on as spectators at this execution in Egypt," charged Erdogan, according to AFP.
 
Erdogan, at the time Turkey’s Prime Minister, was a strong supporter of the Islamist Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, after Morsi won the 2012 elections.
 
He later condemned the military intervention that toppled Morsi as a “coup” and an enemy of democracy. Egypt’s foreign ministry  responded to Erdogan’s crticism by summoning Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo in protest against “Ankara’s interference in Egyptian affairs.”
 
Erdogan has continued to attack Sisi since his election, including last summer when Egypt was trying to broker a ceasefire between Egypt and Hamas.
 
Erdogan said at the time that Sisi was an “illegitimate tyrant” and added Cairo could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce with Israel.

Sinai Terrorists Kill Four, Including Two Judges

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 17 May 2015 00:33
Gunmen kill two Egyptian judgesGunmen on Saturday killed two Egyptian judges and a prosecutor in the Sinai Peninsula, where security forces are battling an Islamist insurgency spearheaded by an Islamic State group affiliate, officials said, according to AFP.
 
The shooting in North Sinai's provincial capital El-Arish also killed the officials' driver and wounded another prosecutor, the health ministry said.
 
Police initially said three judges were killed in the attack, which came hours after a court in Cairo sentenced ousted president Mohammed Morsi to death for his role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
 
Some of Morsi's fellow defendants included jihadists in Sinai, where terrorists often attack members of the security forces.
 
Police said the officials came under attack while being driven to a court hearing in El-Arish.
 
Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told AFP four people were killed.
 
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"Two judges, a prosecutor and the driver of the car were killed, while another prosecutor was wounded," he said.
 
Attacks on policemen and military targets have been the norm in the Sinai for years, but have increased following the ouster of Morsi.
 
Most of the attacks have been claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that is affiliated with ISIS.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The Egyptian army imposed a curfew on Gaza on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.

Mubarak and Sons Sent to Jail for Corruption

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 14 May 2015 13:13
Alaa L and Gamal Mubarak 2nd RAn Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted president Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison on corruption accusations, after he was cleared of murder charges in another case, AFP reports.
 
Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal, also sentenced to three years, were present in the caged dock, wearing suits and sunglasses. Their lawyers may try to appeal.
 
It was not immediately clear whether the sentencing took into account time served, according to the report.
 
All three had been arrested in 2011, months after Mubarak was toppled in a popular 18-day uprising after three decades in power.
 
State news agency MENA later reported that prison authorities contacted the prosecution to inquire about how much time the three had already spent in jail.
 
They had initially been sentenced to three years on the same charges but an appeal court overturned the original verdict.
 
Mubarak, who waved at his supporters in the benches before the judge read his verdict, was taken to the military hospital where he has spent much of his time since his detention in 2011, noted AFP.
 
He and his sons were fined 16 million, the amount they were accused of embezzling from funds meant for the maintenance of presidential palaces.
 
Mubarak, who turned 87 this month, was cleared of charges in another trial over the deaths of protesters during the January-February 2011 uprising.
 
Seven of his police commanders were also acquitted in that trial. The prosecution has lodged an appeal.
 
Last November, a court dropped murder charges against Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the uprising which ended his rule.
 
In the months following his ouster, Egypt's interim military rulers rounded up top Mubarak-era leaders and police commanders and put them on trial, under pressure from protesters.
 
Most have since been acquitted, as widespread anger shifted to Mubarak's now overthrown successor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi.
 
Mubarak’s former military intelligence chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is now president after he overthrew Morsi in the summer of 2013.
 
Critics say Sisi is reviving the practices of the Mubarak era, which was marred by police abuses and arrests of dissidents.
 
Sisi has distanced himself from Mubarak and has insisted that Egypt is moving forward and not backwards. Mubarak, however, has expressed support for Sisi and called on the Egyptian people to stand behind the new president.

Egypt: 40 People to Stand Trial for Belonging to ISIS

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 09:49
Trial for Belonging to ISISAn Egyptian prosecutor said Sunday he referred 40 people to trial on charges of belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) and planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt, reports The Associated Press (AP).
 
The announcement marks the first time people in Egypt's Nile Delta have been accused of belonging to the group, which holds a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate.
 
Bilal Abu Khadra, a prosecutor in Egypt's Sharqiya province, said that those charged communicated with Islamic State terrorists in Syria.
 
He also said the cell's leader confessed to receiving money from the extremists to recruit and help militants travel to Syria.
 
Khadra said 20 of the defendants are detained, while the others will be tried in absentia, according to AP.
 
ISIS has a presence in Egypt, in the form of the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group which pledged allegiance to ISIS late last year.
 
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis has declared responsibility for the majority of the attacks in the Sinai since the ouster of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Among the attacks it has claimed was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The army imposed a curfew on the region  on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.

Casa Futura - a place of safety and security for Copts in Italy

Category: Static Pages
Created on Thursday, 30 April 2015 11:13
Arab SpringDear Voice of the Copts friend 
 
We see it on the news every day, the relentless campaign of terror against the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East -- the pillaging, burning, raping, the selling of young Christian girls into slavery, the murdering of souls simply because they are Christian souls. 
 
The crimes are unspeakable. Along with many martyred individuals we are seeing the extermination of Christian communities that have stood for centuries. 
 
Egypt's Coptic community is one of the largest of Middle Eastern Christians. Their quiet suffering has endured for millennia, but survived they have. However, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and other militant Islamic groups, we have seen their churches destroyed and their faithful undergo mass persecution. The news media blunts the swords and the West appears helpless or just ignorant as a multitude of Christian lives perish. 
 
Many Copts are leaving Egypt just to survive. Even as I write this, they are fleeing anywhere they can to find refuge. Many who have been victims of this persecution and forced to flee are young. Their entire futures are at risk because families have been torn apart or killed and their homes decimated. 
 
Some of these young people are children of neighbors or friends from my childhood in Egypt. 
 
As you know, my name is Ashraf Ramelah and my organization is “Voice of the Copts.” I was born in Egypt and grew up in Cairo. I remember a time when life for Christians there was difficult and full of challenges, but was still free from the reign of terror that has been so recently unleashed on my brothers and sisters and their children, young or unborn. Those days of relative peace are long gone. 
 
It is my mission, the mission of VOTC, to provide a place of safety and security for fellow Copts, especially the young. We all need to raise awareness, to write and speak out against the persecution of Christians around the globe. There is a growing concern. 
 
But you can help us now to do more than speak. You can help us actively implement a plan, supported in part by the European Union, to build Casa Futura, a live-in facility in Rome, Italy. 
 
Casa Futura will be a refuge, a safe haven for some of those who have suffered this terror and whose families have perished. We will help them adjust and start a new life in a strange land, but a land where they can be safe in their beliefs in Christ and proud of their heritage while learning to live in a new home. 
 
We need your help today. I appeal to you to join this life-saving effort. 
 
Faithfully, 
 
Ashraf Ramelah

Sisi Meets CIA Director in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Friday, 24 April 2015 09:57
John Brennan CIAEgypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met on Sunday with CIA director John Brennan in Cairo, the Egyptian presidency said, according to the website of the Al-Ahram newspaper.
 
A presidency statement said Al-Sisi discussed issues of common interest with Brennan, including the latest developments in the Middle East and the war on terrorism.
 
The meeting was attended by Major General Khaled Fawzi, the head of Egypt's General Intelligence and U.S. ambassador to Cairo Stephen Beecroft, according to Al-Ahram.
 
In late March, President Barack Obama released military aid to Egypt that was suspended after the 2013 overthrow of the government.
 
The funds were suspended 21 months ago when Al-Sisi, then military chief, overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and had been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
 
Al-Sisi recently appealed to the United States to play a greater role in helping his country fight terrorism, telling Fox News that while the U.S. has helped Egypt for decades, Egypt needs that help "more than ever," and wants to see a "big response from capable countries."

Egypt Continues to Destroy Tunnels Along the Gaza Border

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 23 April 2015 11:58
Tunnels Along the Gaza BorderThe Egyptian army has destroyed 69 tunnels along the border with Gaza since March 28, an Egyptian army spokesman said Saturday, according to the Ma’an news agency.
 
The spokesman, Muhammad Samir, said that Egyptian border forces stationed in the Egyptian side of Rafah had discovered and destroyed the tunnels in coordination with army engineers.
 
Last month Samir had said the army destroyed 194 tunnels between February 1 and March 19, and another statement at the end of March said that 22 tunnels had been destroyed between March 20 and 27.
 
The latest 69 puts the total number of tunnels destroyed at 285 since February.
 
Also in late March, Egyptian border guards said they had uncovered a 2.8 kilometer-long tunnel near the Gaza border, which they claimed was the longest tunnel uncovered between Egypt and Gaza since the start of operations near the border to crack down on smuggling.
 
Earlier this month, the Egyptian Cabinet approved a draft resolution criminalizing the act of tunnel-digging along Egyptian borders with the punishment of life imprisonment. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is reportedly seeking the death penalty for anyone convicted of digging tunnels into Gaza.
 
Egypt has been cracking down on the smuggling tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai against terrorists launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel.
 
After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up the campaign to build a buffer zone along the border, as it accused Hamas of supporting the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.
 
The buffer zone was initially planned to be 500 meters wide, but Egypt later decided to expand it by another 500 meters.
 
The ongoing tensions between the Egyptian government and Hamas deepened further last month when an Egyptian court declared Hamas’s “military wing” a terrorist group.
 
Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk said that the Egyptian ruling against the Al-Qassam Brigades “is a coup against the history, ethics of Egypt and its principles.”

Former Morsi Aide Jailed for Three Years

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 12:17
behind barsA Cairo criminal court on Wednesday jailed deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi's former chief of staff for three years, after he was convicted of abusing his powers, AFP reported.
 
The man, Refaa al-Tahtawi had been charged with hiring someone banned from public service, a court official said.
 
Tahtawi had given a job to a man convicted of belonging to a terrorist group and of setting fire to several video clubs in the capital.
 
The man, who had been sentenced in the 1990s to 15 years in prison, was himself jailed for a year on Wednesday for having accepted the appointment.
 
Since the Egyptian army ousted Morsi, there has been a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters in the country.
 
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death in recent months, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.
 
Morsi is on several trials in Egypt and is charged with, among other things, endangering national security, inciting the killings of opposition protesters and working with Lebanese and Palestinian Arab groups to carry out terror attacks in Egypt.

Al-Sisi Declares Death Penalty to Tunnel-Diggers

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 18 April 2015 06:32
Death Penalty to Tunnel-DiggersEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared Sunday that anyone convicted of digging tunnels into Gaza from Sinai or of assisting in such activity would face a death sentence, according to a report on Israel's Channel 1 TV.
 
Sunday proved to be another bloody day in Egypt, as at least five people were killed and some 30 injured in bomb blasts outside a police station in the Sinai town of El Arish, news agencies said. Authorities blamed Islamist terror groups who have essentially take control of Sinai for the attack.
 
In yet a second major attack Sunday on security forces in Sinai, seven soldiers were killed when a bomb hit an armored vehicle near Sheikh Zuweid, a town in northern Sinai near the Gaza border. Islamists from the Sinai Province group, said to be affiliated with the Islamic State, took responsibility for that attack.
 
Sunday's casualties join hundreds that have been killed in bombings by groups in Sinai and other areas of Egypt, seeking control of the country, or at least the Sinai area. Last Wednesday, eleven civilians - mostly women and children - and two policemen were killed in attacks launched in the northern Sinai Peninsula when mortar rounds hit two houses in villages just outside of El Arish. In a separate incident Wednesday, an explosive set at a passing military vehicle, killing two policemen.
 
In March, the Egyptian terrorist group Ajnad Misr (Egypt’s Soldiers) has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s (Saturday) bombing at Cairo University that injured eight, including four police officers. Posting on an Islamic State website, the extremist group, which regularly targets Egyptian security forces in its attacks, stated that it had planted the bomb, meant to kill police officers and private security guards who were posted at the university’s entrance.

Security Sources Reveal Massive Iranian Spying in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 17:23
Iranian Spying in EgyptIranian intelligence is conducting widespread activities from within Egypt and from there branching out to other Arab countries as well, according to Arab security sources.
 
The London-based Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat made the revelation in a report on Thursday, citing security sources who disclosed the Iranian intelligence operations.
 
In the report it was noted that the Iranian diplomat Saeed Hosseini was expelled by the Egyptian government four years ago amid the 2011 "Arab Spring." Hosseini was under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani.
 
Iran's Qods Force is tasked with the Islamic regime's covert international operations, and as part of its scope has carried out terror attacks and assassinations against opponents of the regime.
 
It also is tasked with providing training, weapons, funds and other aid to terrorist organizations that back Tehran, such as the Shi'ite Hezbollah in Lebanon.
 
Hosseini was kicked out of Egypt over his involvement in acts of espionage in the country, and he has also been linked to operations in Libya, Yemen, Sudan, the Sinai and Gaza.
 
According to the security sources cited in the report, Iran has appointed a replacement for Husseini - the new man on the job recently took charge in funneling weapons to the Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthi militia fighting to conquer Yemen.
 
The Houthis have in recent months conquered the Yemeni capital of Sana'a as well as other major cities, and have moved southward where they have started seizing the strategic port city of Aden that controls the Red Sea.

One Dead in Cairo Bridge Bombing, After Top Islamist Killed

Category: News
Created on Monday, 06 April 2015 16:45
Cairo Bridge BombingAt least one person was killed Sunday in a bomb explosion on a Cairo bridge, just hours after Egyptian forces gunned down a top Islamist leader in an apartment near the bridge. It is not clear yet if there is a connection between the two incidents.
 
The bomb that exploded on the bridge to the upscale Zamalek neighborhood killed a man who was identified as a police officer. At least three bystanders, two police officers and one civilian, were injured in the blast. No group has yet taken responsibility for the explosion.
 
It was the second straight day of bombings in Cairo. On Saturday, two bombs exploded near police stations in a residential district. No one was injured in those explosions, officials said.
 
On Saturday night, Egyptian forces shot and killed Hamam Mohamed Attia of the Ajnad Misr terror group, one of several Islamist groups that have based themselves in northern Sinai and have caused no end of trouble for Egyptian forces, setting off many bombs and engaging in numerous shooting incidents that have killed hundreds of Egyptian police and soldiers in recent years.
 
On March 28, Ajnad Misr set off bombs near Cairo University, wounding four police officers and two civilians.

Sinai Terrorists Kill 10 Soldiers in Several Attacks

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 April 2015 22:10
Remains of Egyptian firefight in Sinai with terroristsReutersTen Egyptian soldiers were killed and 17 others were injured in several concurrent attacks by armed groups in southern Sheikh Zuweid City in the northern Sinai on Thursday, the Ma’an news agency reported.
 
According to the news agency, clashes erupted during the attacks that targeted five military posts in al-Kharruba, Qabr Amir, al-Shallaq, al-Jura and al-Daraib.
 
During the ambushes, the armed groups fired RPG shells at Egyptian soldiers, leading to many casualties.
 
Egyptian security sources said that 15 members of the armed groups were killed, and three civilians were injured.
 
Thursday's attack held the most casualties in a continuing string of violent insurgency activity that has rocked the Sinai in recent months, noted Ma’an.
 
Attacks on policemen and military targets began to increase following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Most of the attacks have been claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that is affiliated with ISIS.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The Egyptian army imposed a curfew on Gaza on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Following the attack, the government decided to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza, explaining the move was necessary because Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai.

Egypt Names 18 Muslim Brotherhood Members as Terrorists

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 31 March 2015 12:49
Brotherhood behind barsEgypt's top prosecutor on Sunday named 18 Muslim Brotherhood members, including the group's leader and his deputy, as terrorists, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
In a statement, chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat said the decision follows a February court ruling that convicted Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat el-Shater, the head of the group's political party Saad el-Katatni and others of orchestrating violence in 2013 that killed 11 people and wounded over 90 outside their office.
 
The clashes were at the start of mass protests against President Mohammed Morsi, also a member of the group, and days before the military ousted him.
 
Badie, el-Shater and el-Katatni along with senior leaders Mohammed el-Beltagy, Essam el-Erian and nine others were sentenced to life in prison. Another four were sentenced to death. The sentences can be appealed, noted AP.
 
But the new law, passed in February, allows prosecutors to freeze assets of the designated terrorists, barring them from public life or travel for renewable three-year periods based on the preliminary verdict and with the approval of a panel of judges.
 
The law also broadens the state's definition of terrorism to include anyone who threatens public order "by any means."
 
Since the Egyptian army ousted Morsi in July 2013, there has been a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters in the country.
 
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death in recent months, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.
 
The law passed in February drew criticism from rights groups who charged that it expands the state arsenal of legislation empowering authorities to go after political opponents with few, if any, options to redress miscarriages of justice.
 
The government says it needs the law in its campaign against an expanding insurgency by terrorist groups, including one that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
 
The government blames the Brotherhood for the violence, saying the group is seeking to destabilize the government after Morsi's ouster. The group denies the charges.
 
Brotherhood leader Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A video of him released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.

Mubarak's Former Interior Minister Acquitted of Corruption

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 21 March 2015 14:49
habib al-adlyAn Egyptian court on Thursday acquitted an interior minister of ousted president Hosni Mubarak of corruption charges, AFP reported.
 
The former minister, Habib al-Adly, was cleared of illegally accumulating around 181 million Egyptian pounds ($25 million) and will be released, his lawyer Mohammed el-Gendy said.
 
The court also lifted an asset freeze on the former minister and members of his family, he added.
 
"Keeping him in jail for another hour would be illegal," Gendy said of the once-feared interior minister who ran Mubarak's security service with an iron grip.
 
Adly was convicted of taking advantage of his position and forcing police conscripts to work on his private property but has already served the full three-year sentence, noted AFP.
 
Thursday's verdict is the latest in a series of acquittals for Mubarak-era officials, including Mubarak himself. An appeals court last month overturned a suspended five-year sentence slapped on Adly and ex-premier Ahmed Nazif over other corruption charges.
 
Adly was also cleared of murder charges in a separate retrial with Mubarak in November, for which he had been sentenced to life in prison by a lower court.
 
Also last month, an Egyptian court acquitted an oil minister who served under Mubarak in a retrial after a 2012 conviction for selling Israel natural gas at below market price.
 
In January, Mubarak's conviction on corruption charges was overturned by a court and a retrial was ordered.
 
Trials of Mubarak and his former officials have been overshadowed by those against Islamist former president Mohammed Morsi and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was branded a "terrorist group" in 2013.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, the government has launched a brutal crackdown against his supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed after often speedy mass trials.
 
Morsi and leaders of his outlawed Muslim Brotherhood are facing several trials, punishable by death if found guilty.

Sisi Appeals for More Military Aid from the United States

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 09:31
Sisi Vows to Respond to BeheadingsEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday appealed to the United States to play a greater role in helping his country fight terrorism, as he urged the creation of an "Arab ready force" to confront the Islamic State (ISIS) and similar groups.
 
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Fox News, al-Sisi addressed the need for what he called a religious "revolution," urging moderate Muslims around the world to "stand up" against terrorists twisting their religion.
 
In the short term, he said, more military might and funding will be needed to confront the extremist threat and questioned whether the U.S. was doing enough for Egypt.
 
The Egyptian President said that while the U.S. has helped Egypt for decades, Egypt needs that help "more than ever," and wants to see a "big response from capable countries."
 
He said the suspension of American equipment and arms to his country has sent a "negative indication to the public opinion that the United States is not standing by the Egyptians."
 
The United States announced in late 2013 it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt, citing its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following the ouster of former Islamis President Mohammed Morsi.
 
American law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
 
Last year, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed the United States would deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt meant to support Cairo's counter-terrorism efforts. Those helicopters were indeed delivered in December.
 
Al-Sisi told Fox News the need for weapons and equipment remains "dire," and Egyptians "would like to feel that the United States is standing by them."
 
Asked directly how he and other Arab allies view U.S. leadership in the region, he answered briefly in English, "Difficult questions."
 
He also addressed his country's campaign against terrorism weeks after the Islamic State released a video showing 21 Egyptian Christians being beheaded. That video triggered Egyptian airstrikes on ISIS targets in Libya -- airstrikes that, according to the Pentagon, the Egyptians did not notify the U.S. of in advance.
 
At the time, even the top Pentagon spokesman acknowledged the U.S. and Egypt have a "complex relationship."
 
While Egypt is not currently launching airstrikes alongside the U.S. and other Arab nations in Iraq and Syria, al-Sisi endorsed the idea of an "Arab ready force" with U.S. backing to take on security challenges.
 
He said this "ready force" could include his country, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and others, and be "capable of defending our national security" and confronting dangers in the region.
 
"We have to admit that terrorism is now a major threat not only to Egypt or even the immediate region, but it is a threat to the stability and security of the whole world," al-Sisi told Fox News. "We can also see that the map of terrorism and extremism is expanding, it is not recessing."
 
He also said it's important to push to "reinstate the right meaning of religion." Addressing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in his country, he spoke out against what he described as "political Islam."
 
He said the people of Egypt have a "real fear of this kind" of system, adding they feel "these people have turned their lives into a living hell." 

Invitation to President El Sisi of Egypt to address a joint session of the American Congress in the very near future.

Category: Petitions
Created on Tuesday, 10 March 2015 21:47
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -Reuters
 
Mr. Speaker, you have already been instrumental in illustrating America's support of real leadership against terrorism in the Middle East. Extending a hand now to President El Sisi would only emphasize America's resolve to stand with rational and courageous leaders and support the outcomes of reduced terrorism in the Middle East and around the world.   
For this reason, I kindly request, on behalf of my organization, Voice of the Copts, that you extend an invitation to President El Sisi of Egypt to address a joint session of the American Congress in the very near future.  
 

Read more

 
Thank you. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Ashraf Ramelah
Founder and president
Voice of the Copts
 
{petition identifier="Invitation_El_Sisi_Congress"}

Facebook Atheist Risking Jail Seeks to Flee Egypt

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 March 2015 12:08
Facebook Atheist Risking JailKarim al-Banna, who on Monday could hear an appeal court uphold his three-year jail term for "insulting" Islam with his atheism, wishes he could live anywhere but his native Egypt.
 
"All I want now is to leave Egypt. Life is not possible for atheists here," the 23-year-old engineering student told AFP from his home in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
 
If he loses the appeal over his self-declared atheism on Facebook, Banna's last resort would be Egypt's cassation court.
 
Arrested in November, he was released on bail after having spent 55 days behind bars. "It was like living in a tomb," he said.
 
Banna, a former Muslim Brotherhood member, said he returned to being an avid reader of the Koran and prayed constantly to avoid being victimised by other inmates.    
 
But he had "rejected religion" after having been disillusioned by the Brotherhood, which Egyptian authorities have worked to crush since the July 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.    
 
Banna recalled how his father, to avoid a local scandal in the religiously conservative Arab country, had testified against him in court.  
 
"He said I had opinions hostile to religion," said the young man, who was convicted along with a friend.  
 
Banna had gone to the police after a dispute with his neighbors over his professed atheism, but was arrested instead.    
 
Egyptian courts have jailed several people for having insulted religion, although the constitution in theory defends freedom of expression.
 
The same constitution, however, outlaws insults against Egypt's three recognized monotheist religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In practice, however, the laws are primarily used to stifle criticism of Islam.
 
"Atheists are one of Egypt's least-protected minorities, although the constitution ostensibly guarantees freedom of belief and expression," Human Rights Watch said in January.    
 
"Egyptian authorities need to be guided by the constitution and stop persecuting people for atheism," the New York-based watchdog said.    
 
Between 2011 and 2013, 42 defendants faced with the same charge have been ruled guilty, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Egypt Executes Muslim Brotherhood Supporter - Update with video

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 March 2015 20:04
islamists-roofEgypt on Saturday executed a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood for a murder committed during riots in mid-2013, Al Jazeera reported.
 
The execution marked the first death sentence carried out against a supporter of the banned Muslim Brotherhood under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
 
In a statement on its Facebook page, the Interior Ministry said that Mahmoud Hassan Ramadan Abdel-Nabi had been hanged for an incident where children were thrown from a building during protests in 2013 against the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.
 
Security sources have described Ramadan as a "radical Islamist" who is not officially a Brotherhood member, according to Al Jazeera.
 
Since the Egyptian army ousted the Brotherhood's Morsi in July 2013, there has been a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters in the country.
 
Egyptian courts have sentenced hundreds of alleged Brotherhood supporters to death in recent months, many in mass trials condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as violating international law.
 
Saturday's execution came a month after Egypt's high court upheld the death sentence against Ramadan. Most of the other death sentences are still under review in a complex system of legal appeals.
{youtube}A9u2_iP9pWM{/youtube}
 
In one of the most dramatic scenes of the upheaval following Morsi's fall captured on video, Ramadan threw someone off a rooftop during clashes in Alexandria's Sidi Gaber district. An Al-Qaeda flag was seen tucked into the back of Ramadan's trousers.
 
57 others were sentenced to 15-25 years in the case, according to Al Jazeera.
 
Last week, an Egyptian court sentenced top Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the group's spiritual leader Mohammed Badie, to life in prison, for the killings of police officers and civilians during an attack on the group's Cairo headquarters in June 2013.

Will Egypt Go for its Own Nuclear Weapon?

Category: News
Created on Friday, 06 March 2015 09:40
Egypt Go for its Own Nuclear WeaponEgypt has seen two major upheavals in the last four years - the Arab Spring overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011, then saw its Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president toppled in a coup d’état by General, now President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
 
President Sisi last week concluded a preliminary agreement with Russia to build a new nuclear reactor for the country. Simultaneously, Egypt’s courts issued injunctions declaring Hamas a terrorist organization. Both developments may have a great impact on Israel’s security.
 
Zack Gold of the Institute for National Security Studies, currently in Egypt, told Arutz Sheva he does not see this as reason to think Egypt is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability to keep up with Iran, particularly in the context of what some experts, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, worry will provoke a nuclear arms race in the region.
 
“The Egyptian reactor is a concept that has been in the works for years," explained Gold. "This is just the initial stage of the project. It is not in any way related to the current negotiations with Iran. It is about Egypt’s need for energy. Egypt does not have enough gas. They want to diversify their energy market.”
 
"In fact, Egypt has always been a regional leader promoting a nuclear-free Middle East. Since 2006, Egypt has pushed as a way to deal with the Iranian program," he added.
 
When asked about the possibility that the reactor could be a point of tension with Israel, long speculated to have nuclear weapons of its own and not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said that, counterintuitively, Israel’s issue with the idea has never been about having to join a diplomatic dialogue for joining that sort of agreement.
 
"Israel is not exactly against a nuclear weapons-free zone being applied to the Middle East. Israel has just maintained that any regional discussions shouldn’t be restricted to nukes. It has to cover chemical and biological weapons, too, like in Syria.”
 
"Israel also did not want such a conference to become a forum to criticize Israel on other unrelated issues," Gold added.
 
He recalled that "in 2010 at that year’s NPT Review Conference, Egypt refused to sign on to a concluding document to the conference without a guarantee for a conference to focus on a nuclear-free Mideast. It was supposed to take place in 2013, but obviously that didn’t happen.”
 
In context of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concern over nuclear proliferation expressed in his Congressional speech, would Iran’s program provide more of an indirect threat than a direct one?
 
Gold responded that "some say the Iranian nuclear program is not a threat in its own right, but that it could break the NPT. Egypt and Turkey might pursue a weapons program out of prestige; Saudi Arabia out of concern for an existential threat. But there is a chance Saudi Arabia might immediately buy one from Pakistan. But Egypt is not in a financial position to withstand the sanctions for pursuing a bomb.”
 
Russia looking for influence
 
Still Gold does say there are definitely political implications connected to the Iran deal, but they have much more to do with Russia than Egypt.
 
"Russia wants to stick its thumb at the US and Europe who have imposed sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine. Russia wants to show it is still useful and an international player," he said.
 
“When we think of Russia and nuclear power in the Middle East, we think of the Bushehr reactor in Iran. This (Egyptian reactor) could help with Iran because Russia would not rely only on Iran’s nuclear reactor for a source of influence in the Middle East. Russia is looking for alternative alliances.”
 
Egypt does gain politically a bit from the deal, showing they are not solely reliant on the US as a foreign ally, but the days of the Cold War when Egypt would choose sides are not applicable to Egypt right now, he says.
 
“Egypt wants the US to know it has other partners. Egypt does not want to be taken for granted," he concluded.

Hamas Leader: We'll Respond to Egypt as We Do to Israel

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 March 2015 20:16
Salah BardawilDays after a court in Egypt declared Hamas a terrorist organization, one of its leaders on Monday issued a threat against Cairo.
 
The leader, Salah Bardawil, declared that Hamas will not allow the Egyptian regime to touch the Palestinian people and will react to any aggression in the same way it reacts to Israel.
 
“Hamas will not allow the Egyptian regime to assault the Gaza Strip and it will resist against it like it resists against Israel,” he was quoted by the Alresalah newspaper as saying.
 
Bardawil warned that Hamas “will not be subject to the mercy of the Egyptian judges or politicians” and added, "Gaza is not like Libya, and those threatening us will lose their people and nation.”
 
Saturday’s ruling in Egypt was directed at Hamas’s political wing, and it comes after Hamas’s “military wing”, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was designated as a terrorist organization by Egypt at the beginning of February.
 
Hamas has been the subject of a crackdown by Egyptian authorities ever since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
The military-led government that ousted Morsi has cracked down on Hamas, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.

Explosion in Cairo Kills Two, Wounds Nine

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 March 2015 18:46
Cairo explosion Kills Two Wounds NineTwo people were killed and nine wounded, including seven policemen, in a bomb explosion on Monday outside the Egyptian supreme court in Cairo, AFP reported.
 
Health Ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told the news agency that a 22-year-old man "died of injuries sustained in his backbone" in the attack.
 
Another man, aged 24, who had suffered head injuries and internal bleeding, also died of his wounds, he said.
 
Abdel Ghaffar said nine people, including seven policemen, were wounded in the attack.
 
The explosion appeared aimed at a police checkpoint near the court, a hospital official said.
 
The latest attack came a day after two civilians died in a bombing outside a police station in southern Egypt.
 
Egypt has been dealing with endless terrorist attacks in recent years, but those attacks have intensified since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
 
Most of the attacks have taken place in the restive Sinai Peninsula and have been claimed by the jihadist Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
However, Cairo has been hit several times as well. Monday’s blast was the second such attack near the supreme court, after an explosion wounded 12 people in October last year.
 
Monday's explosion came days after a series of bombings in Cairo in which one person was killed.
 
Five bombs struck within hours, four of them near mobile phone service companies and a police station.
 
Most of the bombings in the capital have been rudimentary and caused no casualties, but several have killed policemen, including two senior officers who died while trying to defuse bombs outside the presidential palace in June last year.

'America Softer on Islamist Terrorism than Egypt'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 March 2015 06:58
future-must-not-belong-to-those-who-slander-prophet-islam-mohammad-barack-hussein-obama-muslimThe recent U.S.-hosted Conference on Countering Violent Extremism that brought together the representatives of 60 nations in Washington "did not give birth to a global strategy on terror," states an article in the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram. It "served instead to underline differences between various points of view, especially those of Cairo and Washington."
 
As explained by political science professor Gamal Abdel-Gawad of the American University in Cairo, the disagreements between Egypt and the U.S. are stark. The Americans "still see political Islam as a present and legitimate player, not a synonym for extremism,” according to Abdel-Gawad.
 
Furthermore, the U.S. differentiates "between extremist Islamists and moderate Islamists, and believe that the moderates can be effectively integrated in politics as part of an acceptable political system… U.S. officials believe that the integration of political Islamic currents, including those suspected of extremism, in political life would be beneficial.”
 
Egypt, whose government has labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group, and which faces terrorist threats in Sinai, neighboring Libya, and elsewhere, does not agree.
 
Egypt has been pro-active in fighting these threats, including striking by air against ISIS forces in Libya for slaughtering 21 Egyptian Copts. Egypt had expected that the international coalition operating in Syria and Iraq would include Libya on its agenda, but this did not materialize.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told conference participants that the West “is not in a war against Islam” and that terrorist groups do not act in the name of the world’s one billion Muslims. Many Arab countries do not agree. Jordan's foreign minister told the conference that the current confrontation with terrorist groups should be viewed as “World War Three,” while Saudi Arabia called for drying up terrorism sources through concerted global action.
 
Some believe that the U.S. is "hedging its bets" regarding the ongoing struggle between the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt and the Egyptian government. Kamal Al-Helbawi, a former top Brotherhood official, said as much, noting that an American national security document of a few weeks ago calls for continued talks with both the government and opposition.
 
“The moderate Islamism Washington is talking about is the one it wishes to create, not the one it ascribes to the Brotherhood or other so-called moderates," said Al-Helbawi.
 
The analysis concludes that Egypt’s best option for now is to turn to its Arab partners for help. "Its diplomats will try either to dust off the Arab Joint Defence Agreement, or form a coalition with other nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Jordan… [and is even] talking to Russian diplomats in Syria about a possible political deal."

Hamas: Egypt a 'Friend of the Israeli Occupation'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 28 February 2015 21:52
Jihad terrorists in GazaHamas denounced on Saturday night the decision by an Egyptian court to declare it a terrorist organization, accusing Egypt of being “a friend of the Israeli occupation”.
 
According to the statement quoted by the Alresalah newspaper, Hamas said the ruling is “serious and shocking”.
 
The statement added that the ruling targets “the whole Palestinian people as well as the Palestinian resistance, making Egypt a friend of the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian people an enemy.”
 
Saturday’s ruling was directed at Hamas’s political wing, and it comes after Hamas’s “military wing”, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was designated as a terrorist organization by Egypt at the beginning of February.
 
Hamas has been the subject of a crackdown by Egyptian authorities ever since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
The military-led government that ousted Morsi has cracked down on Hamas, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.
 
Egypt declared a state of emergency in the Sinai following that attack and began to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

Egyptians Flock Home from Libya After ISIS Beheadings

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 08:26
isis-mass-execution-coptic-egyptian-christians-5Almost 15,000 Egyptians have flocked home from war-torn Libya via the border crossing at Sallum, AFP reported on Monday, citing state media.
 
Egyptian and Libyan warplanes hit Islamic State (ISIS) targets inside Libya last week, after the jihadists released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of a group of Coptic Christians it kidnapped.
 
Cairo has since urged the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians working in Libya to leave, and also chartered planes to fly many of them home from Tunisia, Libya's western neighbor.
 
At least 14,585 have heeded the call and returned through Sallum in northwest Egypt, state news agency MENA reported.
 
It said they included 3,018 Egyptians on Monday alone, but did not specify how many were Christian, noted AFP.
 
A transport ministry spokeswoman in Tunisia said at least 1,000 Egyptians who had fled Libya have been airlifted home on planes chartered by Cairo since Friday.
 
Late on Monday a plane carrying 231 Egyptians airlifted from Tunisia earlier in the day landed at Cairo airport, the fifth such Egypt Air flight bringing Egyptians home, an airport official was quoted by the news agency as having said.
 
On Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said 13 ISIS targets were hit in the raids on the group last week, and called for a “unified Arab force” to fight the growing terrorist threats in the Middle East.
 
"The need for a unified Arab force is growing and becoming more pressing every day," he said in a televised address, noting that Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have offered to send troops as Egypt steps up its efforts to battle ISIS.
 
"The challenges in the region, and facing our countries, are huge challenges, and ... we can overcome those challenges once we are together," Sisi added.

Egypt Acquits Ex-Minister over Israel Gas Deal

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:21
MubarakAn Egyptian court acquitted on Saturday an oil minister who served under ex-strongman Hosni Mubarak in a retrial after a 2012 conviction for selling Israel natural gas at below market price.
 
The Cairo court acquitted former oil minister Sameh Fahmi along with five other petroleum officials.
 
An appeals court ordered a retrial in March 2013 for the defendants after they were initially found guilty in 2012 and sentenced to between 3 and 15 years in jail.  
 
Several Mubarak-era figures including the ousted autocrat have been acquitted in retrials after being initially condemned.  
 
In November, Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly were cleared of charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising that unseated him.  
 
Mubarak was also cleared in that trial of exporting gas to Israel at below market price.    
 
The sale of gas to Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 after four wars, was always controversial in the Arab world's most populous country.  
 
Sinai-based terrorists have continuously sabotaged the pipeline after Mubarak's ouster in 2011 until the export deal was halted in April 2012.

ISIS Kidnaps More Egyptians

Category: Reports
Created on Saturday, 21 February 2015 18:23
Copts killed in libyaIn what appears to be a gathering battle, Egyptian officials said Thursday that Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Libya have kidnapped ten Egyptian nationals.
 
The kidnappings took place in Tripoli, where fighting between ISIS, the Libyan government, and other rebel groups is taking place.
 
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that it had received word of the kidnappings earlier Thursday. They had no information on the identities of the victims, and ISIS has not commented on the report.
 
On Sunday, Egypt offered to evacuate the thousands of its citizens who are in Libya when ISIS beheaded 21 Coptic Christians last week. In response to those beheadings, Egyptian fighter jets on Monday bombed ISIS targets in Libya, the first time Egypt has admitted doing so.
 
Between 40 and 50 ISIS men were killed in the joint attacks by the Egyptian and Libyan militaries, according to Saker al-Jarushi, a commander in Libya's air force quoted by Reuters. He added that weapons and communications centers were also hit.
 
If the reports were true, it was likely, sources in Egypt said, that ISIS had staged the kidnappings in retaliation for that attack. Egypt will now have to develop a retaliation for that attack, the sources said, and it was possible that the retaliation would be greater than the attack on Monday, in an attempt to break what could turn into a degenerative pattern of action on both sides that could lead to all-out war.
 
The report of the kidnapping comes a day after Italian officials expressed serious concerns that they could face an invasion by Islamic State forces, In a video of the executions Sunday, a masked ISIS terrorist threatens the group's next move, saying that ISIS “will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our prophet, peace be upon him.”
 
In an interview with the Associated Press, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said that Italy was prepared to contribute as many as 5,000 troops on a mission to liberate Libya from ISIS, if Western states were to decide to undertake such a mission.
 
However, he said, Rome was willing to wait until the UN Security Council decided on collective action. The issue of the ISIS incursion into Libya is now under discussion by the Council.

Copts beheaded in Libya, Copt burned alive in Egypt

Category: Press Releases
Created on Thursday, 19 February 2015 10:14
coptic-christiansOnce again, tragedy strikes the Coptic community with the brutal murders of twenty-one Christian Copts in Libya. Living under constant threat of a hate-driven and blood-thirsty Islam, Copts of Egypt have learned to expect anything at any time, and mourners go about the streets. A few days ago a young Coptic man was burned alive in the province of Al-Minya. Muslims harassed and targeted this youth in the heart of a peaceful village hoping to spark the retaliation of Copts in order to trigger destabilization of the region. But Copts have not reacted, waiting instead for law enforcement to take its course. 
 
For more than 1,430 years, Copts have suffered the brutality and aggression of Islamic doctrine along with Jews and other non-Muslims. History shows how Islamic doctrine played an important role during WWI and in WWII with the massacre of more than six million Jews in Europe.  As well, Muslims become victims of their own system. A video showing a Jordanian pilot hostage set ablaze recently caused Jordan’s leader to respond with military action.Copts killed in libya
 
Egypt leads the world against terror
 
However, one leader who has truly taken the lead against terrorism in the moment is Egyptian president Al-Sisi as the Egyptian military strikes at ISIS in Libya. Al-Sisi’s war against Islamic terrorism began during his presidential election campaign when he asked for the renewal of Islamic discourse and implied that the status of religious minorities should be one of equality as he declared that “there are no religious minorities in Egypt.” 
 
Egypt strikes Libya jihadistsVoice of the Copts supports Egypt’s President Al-Sisi in his war against Islamic terrorism and hopes that other leaders will follow in his footsteps in order to protect the world from further atrocities. The question that arises now concerns world leaders who listen and take their lead from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian terror organization banned from Egypt, to actually aid its branches of terror in the Middle East rather than oppose them. Will Egypt’s current strike against Libya be countered by unlikely sources behind ISIS on the ground? 
 
Voice of the Copts offers condolences
 
We offer our condolences to the grieving families of those who suffered barbaric acts most recently in Libya and Syria. Also, our sympathy goes out to the family and community members of the young Copt burned alive in Egypt’s Al-Minya Province. 
 
We must continue to remember all the lost souls sacrificed to racial and religious genocide and from this gain the strength to fight for freedom and liberty around the world. 
 
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah
Founder, President
Voice of the Copts
* * *
 
Ashraf Ramelah was interviewed by Al-Arabiya newspaper on March 17, 2015 in response to Egypt’s airstrikes against Libya:
 
Al-Arabiya: Egypt is bombing ISIS targets in Libya and so far has launched eight strikes immediately following the release of the purported execution video of Egyptian hostages. How far will Egypt go? 
 
AR: Chances are good that Egypt will stop at nothing now. The leaders of ISIS miscalculated Al Sisi. With these killings, ISIS was testing Al Sisi’s sincerity on his commitment to fight Islamic terrorism, which Al Sisi has so far defined as Islamic hate doctrine and its violent perpetrators. ISIS wanted to call Al Sisi’s bluff on this issue demonstrating that Al Sisi would not attack Muslim Islamic fighters on behalf of Egyptian Copts and avenge the killings of Christians. Had ISIS been correct in its calculation, ISIS would have succeeded in achieving an internal problem for Al Sisi. Al Sisi would have lost his support from the Christian population and others inside Egypt to destabilize his position. ISIS has now discovered that Al Sisi is far from its hero Morsi. 
 
 
Al-Arabiya: Do you think this aerial campaign will last?
 
AR: Yes. Al Sisi put Islamic terrorists on notice awhile back. I believe Al Sisi’s campaign now will last until Egypt achieves its calculated goals set by the Egyptian military.  
 
 
Al-Arabiya: Do you see Egypt joining the anti-ISIS coalition officially?
 
AR: Anti-ISIS coalition? -- There is none. Egypt and Jordan stand and act alone. They are the only Islamic countries ready to fight against Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. 
 
 
Al-Arabiya: Will Egypt now divert focus away from Sinai insurgency and focus more on threats from Libya?
 
AR: No. I believe that Egypt will remain in Sinai to combat Hamas because this is a priority of Egypt’s new president. Egypt is strong enough militarily to be on both fronts at this time. If the slaughter of 21 Egyptians by ISIS is to instigate a diversion tactic to summon Al Sisi to a second front and ease up on Hamas, ISIS is sorely mistaken. ISIS will now face a fierce enemy and will most likely be completely annihilated in Libya. In doing so, will Egypt do a favor for the American president or create a problem for his administration? It is hard to tell.  
 

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'I'm Still Egypt's President', Insists Morsi as New Trial Begins

Category: News
Created on Monday, 16 February 2015 13:28
Mohammed Morsi in courtFormer Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was on Sunday placed on trial on charges of endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar, but he once again declared that he does not recognize the court’s authority.
 
Morsi, who was toppled by the army in 2013 after mass protests against his rule, insisted that he was still Egypt’s legitimate president, Reuters reported from Cairo.
 
“This court does not represent anything to me,” declared Morsi, who was on trial with 10 other people. The maximum penalty if he is convicted is death.
 
The former Islamist president is facing several trials in Egypt.  In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
In yet another one he is accused, along with 35 others, of working with Lebanese and Palestinian Arab groups to carry out terror attacks in Egypt.
 
The trial which began Sunday revolves around allegations that Morsi leaked secret documents to Qatar and its satellite news channel Al Jazeera.
 
Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, has been called "the Muslim Brotherhood channel" and has been blamed for stirring up much of the violence that has rocked the Middle East in recent years and is often referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 
 
Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been icy since July 2013 when the army overthrew Morsi and launched a security crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Lately, however, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to restore their ties. In December, Qatar declared its support for Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Sisi later met with an envoy from the Gulf emirate, and Al-Jazeera also shut down its Egypt channel, quieting a major source of tension between the two countries.

Sisi Vows to Respond to Beheadings of 21 Christians

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 15 February 2015 21:27
Sisi Vows to Respond to BeheadingsEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned on Sunday night that his country would respond to the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya by the Islamic State (ISIS).
 
Earlier, ISIS released a video purportedly showing the beheading of the Coptic Christians it had captured in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
 
The footage released online shows handcuffed hostages wearing orange jumpsuits being beheaded by their black-suited captors.
 
Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Sisi said Cairo would choose the "necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings", Reuters reported.
 
Sisi, who met with the country's top military commanders to discuss the killings, called for a seven-day mourning period.
 
Egypt's state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that the 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by ISIS were dead.
 
The Coptic Church also said it was confident the government would seek justice, according to Reuters.Copts killed in libya
 
Libya is home to a large community of both Muslim and Coptic Egyptians, with most working in the construction sector.
 
The country has been plagued by instability and infighting since the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, and independent militias still control large part of Libya and regularly fight each other. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the situation and are training fighters on Libyan soil.
 
Egypt evacuated its embassy in Tripoli and consulate in Benghazi last year after kidnappers seized Egypt’s cultural attaché and three other embassy diplomats.
 
Egypt has been fighting ISIS terrorism on its own soil, as the ISIS-affiliated Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis has been carrying out scores of terrorist attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since the ouster of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Most recently, the group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks that killed more than 30 members of the security forces in late January.

Egypt Court Orders Retrial for 36 Brotherhood Supporters

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 12 February 2015 12:33
Muslim Brotherhood An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the retrial of 36 supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, who were sentenced to death in a mass trial last year that included the group’s leader, judicial sources said, according to Reuters.
 
The 36 were among 183 sentenced to death by a criminal court in the southern Minya province last June. The other defendants, including the Brotherhood’s General Guide Mohammed Badie, were tried in absentia. The court gave no reason for the retrial.
 
Badie and the other defendants were charged in connection with violence near Minya in August 2013 following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi a month earlier. One police officer was killed in the violence.
 
The Brotherhood leader was under arrest in Cairo during the trial and was not transferred to the Minya court for security reasons. He is serving a life sentence in a Cairo jail in a separate case, noted Reuters.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A video of him released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.
 
The Brotherhood has faced the toughest crackdown in its history since Morsi’s removal, with thousands of Brotherhood supporters having been jailed. By contrast, Figures from the Hosni Mubarak era have been released and new laws curtailing political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old leadership is back.
 
The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".
 
The United States and the European Union have decried the mass convictions as well, but Egypt rejected the criticism, terming it “unacceptable interference in the judiciary affairs”.

Egypt: 22 Killed in Clashes Between Soccer Fans and Police

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 19:42
22 Killed Soccer FansAt least 22 people were killed on Sunday evening when fans of the Egyptian Zamalek soccer group clashed with Egyptian police before a Premier League game, the Al-Ahram website reported.
 
Egypt's prosecution said the bodies of the victims were transferred to a Cairo morgue. State news agency MENA said at least 25 were injured.
 
"They died of suffocation and stampede after being tear-gassed," a medical source at the Ahli Bank Hospital, which received 14 bodies, told Al-Ahram.
 
Police used tear gas to disperse members of the group of hardcore fans of the team, known as the Ultras White Knights, in front of Cairo's Air Defense Stadium, an army-owned venue, a few hours before Zamalek played.
 
Ultras White Knights shared photos of alleged bodies of the victims on its official Facebook page, some of which wearing the team's jersey, as well as a full list of their names.
 
The Egyptian interior ministry said the clashes occurred after Ultras White Knights members tried to attend the game without buying tickets.
 
"The Zamalek fans tried to get in by force, and we had to prevent them from damaging public property," the ministry said in a statement quoted by Al-Ahram.
 
The incident is reminiscent of one which took place three years ago, in February of 2012, when more than 70 people were killed and hundreds injured in post-match violence following a game in Port Said between Cairo's Al-Ahly and Al-Masry.
 
The riots, considered at the time the deadliest in Egypt's sports history, were largely blamed on supporters of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in early 2011 after a popular uprising.

Egyptian Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Terrorists in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Monday, 09 February 2015 10:49
Airstrikes in SinaiEgyptian military airstrikes have killed at least 27 fighters in the northern Sinai region in one of the biggest security operations in the region in months, Al-Jazeera reported on Saturday.
 
The operation began on Friday, when Apache helicopters targeted fighters belonging to the Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), security sources said.
 
Hours later, soldiers shot and killed 20 fighters, the sources added, according to Al-Jazeera.
 
The Egyptian army for months has been waging war against the jihadists in the restive Sinai, and has killed hundreds of terrorists.
 
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis has have declared responsibility for most of the attacks in the area. Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi's ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Most recently, the group claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks that killed more than 30 members of the security forces in late January.
 
The army imposed a curfew on the region  on October 25, following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and which were also claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Following the attack, the government decided to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza, explaining the move was necessary because Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai.

Muslim Scholars Call to 'Kill and Crucify' ISIS Terrorists

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 05 February 2015 07:10
Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Imam of al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar UniversityAl-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious center of learning, has called for the killing and crucifixion of terrorists from the Islamic State group (ISIS), expressing outrage over their murder of a Jordanian pilot.
 
In a statement after the burning alive of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, the Cairo-based authority called for the "killing, crucifixion and chopping of the limbs of Islamic State terrorists".
 
The use of crucifixion is recorded in Islamic scriptures, and has been employed by ISIS themselves to display the bodies of people executed for a variety of crimes in areas under its control.
 
The statement comes a month after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivered a highly unusual and surprising speech to Islamic clerics at Al-Azhar University last week, in which he called on Muslim leaders to reform Islam to rid the Muslim world of terrorism.
 
"It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (multinational community of Muslim believers) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world," Sisi said.
 
"That thinking – I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
 
"Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!"
 
Other Muslim countries have also responded to the pilot's murder with condemnation.
 
Saudi Arabia, the spiritual home of Islam and another member of the US-led coalition against ISIS, condemned the "misguided ideology" behind Kassasbeh's killing and accused groups like ISIS of seeking "to distort the values of Islam". Despite it's clear stance against ISIS, however, Saudi Arabia has faced criticism for its ties to other jihadi groups in Syria and elsewhere.
 
Iran also condemned the "inhuman and un-Islamic act" - a rather ironic statement considering that Tehran is a key supporter of the Assad regime, which rights groups say is in fact responsible for more atrocities than ISIS. Iran also finances and trains a range of Shai Islamist militias, who have been accused of brutally expelling Sunni Muslims from areas captured from ISIS control.
 
The UAE - which a report Wednesday claimed had fearfully withdrawn from the coalition shortly after al-Kassasbeh's capture - said the actions of IS "represent epidemics that must be eradicated by civilized societies without delay".

Hamas Claims Egypt Opened Fire on its 'Military Posts' in Gaza

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 17:10
Hamas Military Posts in GazaNot only has Egypt been able to expel Gazans from the border with Sinai and demolish their homes and mosques to create a counter-terror buffer zone as the world silently watches, but on Tuesday morning Egyptian troops reportedly opened fire on Hamas "military posts" in Gaza near the border with impugnity.
 
Reports of the shootings were relayed by witnesses in Gaza to the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency, although there were no reports of wounded.
 
Iyad al-Buzm, a spokesperson for the Hamas terrorist government's "Ministry of Interior," accused the Egyptians of "firing directly and deliberately at two Palestinian military posts on the southern Gaza Strip borders."
 
He said the Egyptian soldiers fired without warning, and that the Hamas side had not committed any breach of conditions that would have warranted the potentially lethal response.
 
"This is a dangerous indicator which necessitates an immediate investigation to call to account those involved in it," al-Buzm said.
 
However, the Egyptian army had a different version of events. Earlier on Tuesday it reported that a bomb exploded in a military vehicle near the Gaza border, marking the first such incident, and possibly initiating a military response against the apparent terrorist attack.
 
Casting further doubt on the claims by the Hamas ministry and Gaza residents was Abu Ubayda al-Jarrah, commander of Hamas's Gaza national security forces, who said the incident was not intentional.
 
The Egyptian troops accidentally opened fire "near our forces," said al-Jarrah, saying the burst of gunfire was part of the ongoing Egyptian operations in Rafah and did not specifically target Hamas forces.
 
If the shooting on Tuesday did actually target Hamas watch towers, it would provide further testimony of the dual standard imposed by the world when judging Israel's counter-terror operations in Gaza as compared to those actions taken by Egypt.
 
Egypt has demolished thousands of homes in expelling all Gazans from the Sinai border to create a wide one kilometer (over half a mile) buffer zone.
 
The decision to do so was made following two deadly attacks last October in Sinai's El-Arish, which killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Egyptian sources have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai, thus necessitating the buffer zone.
 
As a follow-up, Egypt on Saturday banned Hamas's "military wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organization.
 
Hamas responded by saying it no longer views Egypt as a mediator in talks with Israel, and on Monday hundreds of supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization marched in protest.

Hamas Official: Egypt's Decision a 'Coup Against History'

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 February 2015 09:36
Moussa Abu MarzoukA senior Hamas official on Sunday slammed a decision by an Egyptian court to brand Hamas’s “military wing” a terrorist organization.
 
Meanwhile, the group’s spokesman toned down Hamas’s initial response to the move, in which it said that Hamas no longer viewed Egypt as a mediator between the group and Israel.
 
Mousa Abu Marzouk said that the Egyptian ruling against the Al-Qassam Brigades “is a coup against the history, ethics of Egypt and its principles,” reported the Alresalah news website.
 
"History recorded the Qassam Brigades has always been civilized in dealing with Egyptian intelligence … Is it today a terrorist organization?" Abu Marzouk reportedly wrote on Facebook.
 
“In a move, the first of its kind, Cairo Court for Urgent Matters, considers the Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization; for the first time in the Arab and Muslim world, alongside with most countries in the world except for Israel and its supporters in the West, the Palestinian resistance has been condemned," he continued.
 
Abu Marzouk further said he considered the ruling "a coup against the history, the rights of the Palestinian, Egypt and its principles that we know."
 
"Most of the countries of the world, especially the Arab and Muslim world, stand next to the resistance, and this is what we expect from Egypt, which has suffered from the terrorism of the Zionist entity! Israel has targeted the Egyptian civilians in the cities of the Suez Canal, and killed thousands of Egyptian soldiers, including hundreds of prisoners in Sinai,” he wrote.
 
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri toned down comments originally attributed to sources close to Hamas, who had reportedly said the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel due to the court’s ruling.
 
Abu Zuhri, according to Alresalah, said the comments were “fully incorrect .”
 
The Egyptian court’s decision to blacklist Hamas comes as no surprise. While the government of Islamist Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.
 
Egypt declared a state of emergency in the Sinai following that attack and began to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

Egypt Releases One of Three Detained Al-Jazeera Reporters

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 February 2015 09:13
behind barsA reporter for Al-Jazeera English was released Sunday from an Egyptian prison and deported, after more than a year behind bars, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
His two Egyptian colleagues remain jailed in a case widely condemned as a sham by human-rights groups, the report noted.
 
Australian Peter Greste was whisked away on a flight to Cyprus. His release came as a welcome surprise to fellow reporters and activists who spent months pressing for his freedom.
 
At the same time, rights groups and Greste's Qatar-based broadcaster called on Egypt to release the other two defendants in the case.
 
Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed were arrested in December 2013 over their coverage of the violent crackdown on Islamist protests following the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi.
 
Egyptian authorities accused the three of providing a platform for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, now declared a terrorist organization. Authorities provided no concrete evidence, noted AP, and the journalists and their supporters insist they were doing their jobs during a time of violent upheaval.
 
The three were seen as having been caught up in a regional power struggle between Egypt and Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera and had been a strong backer of Morsi. Greste's release follows a thawing of ties between Cairo and Doha.
 
A Qatari envoy recently met with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the first such meeting since he was elected in June.
 
Al-Sisi’s office said Egypt hoped the meeting, which was attended by a Saudi royal envoy, was the beginning of a "new era" that puts the past disagreements between the two countries behind.
 
Egypt has accused Al-Jazeera in general, and its Egypt affiliate, Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, in particular, of doing Doha's bidding by serving as Islamists' mouthpiece at a time of a ferocious crackdown on their ranks.
 
The station denies any bias, saying it is simply covering Islamist protests, but recently shut down its Egypt channel as Qatar and Egypt grow closer.
 
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who had been negotiating for Greste's release, said that journalist had told her by telephone from Egypt that he was desperate to return to his family in the Australian city of Brisbane after spending 400 days in custody.
 
"He was immensely relieved and he was desperate to come home to Australia and reunite with his family," Bishop told reporters in Sydney, according to AP.
 
"From my discussion with him, he was very keen to be back on a beach and lying in the sun in Australia," she said.
 
Greste had been given short notice that he was being released "unconditionally," Bishop said.
 
Canada welcomed the "positive developments" and said it was hopeful that Fahmy's case would be "resolved shortly," according to a statement from the office of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular.

Egyptian Court Blacklists Hamas's 'Military Wing'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 February 2015 09:24
Qassam BrigadesAn Egyptian court on Saturday banned the so-called “military wing” of Hamas and listed it as a terrorist organization, Reuters reported.
 
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities in Cairo have also declared a terrorist group and have cracked down on since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohammed Morsi, from the presidency in 2013.
 
"The court ruled to ban the (Hamas) Qassam Brigades and to list it as a terrorist group," said Judge Mohammed al-Sayid of the special Cairo court which deals with urgent cases, according to Reuters.
 
The case was based on allegations that the Al-Qassam Brigades staged terrorist attacks to support the Brotherhood, and carried out a bombing and shooting operation which killed 33 security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula in October of 2014.
 
The decision comes just days after Egypt's emergency state security court overturned an earlier decision to list Hamas as a terrorist organization, claiming that determining whether or not Hamas is a terror group does not fall under its jurisdiction.
 
Hamas responded angrily to Saturday’s ruling, claiming it would serve Israel.
 
"We reject the Egyptian court's decision against Qassam Brigades. It is a political, dangerous decision that serves only the Zionist occupation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was quoted by Reuters as having said.
 
A source close to Hamas later signaled the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel.
 
"After the court's decision Egypt is no longer a mediator in Palestinian-Israeli matters," the source told Reuters.
 
While Morsi’s government was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.
 
Egypt declared a state of emergency in the Sinai following that attack and began to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza.

Egyptian Court Overturns Hamas Ban

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 09:08
A PRC terrorist commanderEgypt's Emergency State Security Court on Monday overturned an earlier decision to list Hamas as a terrorist organization, the Ma’an news agency reported.
 
The court ruled that determining whether or not Hamas is a terror group does not fall under its jurisdiction.
 
The same court had decided in March 2014 to ban Hamas activities in Egypt and ordered the movement's assets to be seized.
 
At the time, Egyptian lawyer Samir Sabri filed a lawsuit against Hamas, saying it was behind attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal had planned them.
 
Hamas has denied any involvement in any attacks in Egypt, as has the Muslim Brotherhood, which was also blacklisted by Egypt as a terror group in 2014.
 
While the government of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of an attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai.
 
Most recently, Egypt accused Hamas of providing the weapons used by terrorists for two lethal attacks in El-Arish in October, in which dozens of soldiers were killed.
 
Egypt declared a state of emergency in the Sinai following that attack and began to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza.
 
Most of the attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula have been claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).

Sisi: The Fight Against Terror Needs New Muslim Discourse

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 18:41
Al-Sisi at Al-Azhar UniversityEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday said the fight against "terrorism" needs a new Muslim religious discourse in addition to security and military measures, AFP reported.
 
"The rise in terrorism... requires a thoughtful response from the international community," Sisi told the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
 
"The fight must not only be restricted to security and military aspects... but should include a reformed religious discourse from which false ideologies that could lure some into adopting violence to impose their ideas have been removed," he added.
 
Sisi’s comments on Monday follow ones he made in a speech to Islamic clerics at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, in which he said Islam had become “a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” for humanity.
 
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy a close relationship and cooperate in various fields besides military activities.
 
Both governments are hostile towards Islamists and have blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood, branding it a terrorist organization.
 
Gulf security is "a red line" for Egypt, Sisi said, affirming his country's unwavering support for efforts by the UAE "to preserve its national security" and urged "increased" action to "confront all attempts to breach the security of Gulf countries."
 
The UAE last year jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians for terms of three months to five years for forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell.
 
They were part of dozens of other Islamists jailed in the UAE since the Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011, even though the country itself has not seen any anti-regime movements.
 
Crackdowns against the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt led to a months-long diplomatic spat pitting Qatar, an active supporter of the Brotherhood, against Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, which all supported the ouster of Morsi.
 
In an unprecedented development, the three nations had recalled their ambassadors from Doha last March, in protest against Qatar's support for the Islamist movement, then returned their diplomatic staff to Qatar in November.
 
Recently, however, relations between Qatar and Egypt have improved, as Sisi met with an envoy from the Gulf emirate.

In Court, Morsi Launches Tirade Against Successor Sisi

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 17:29
Bihand barsOusted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi on Sunday testified for the first time in his espionage trial, and launched a tirade against his successor whom he accused of removing him in a "coup", AFP reported.
 
Morsi was toppled by former army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013 after mass protests demanding the Islamist's resignation after just one year in office.
 
Appearing in a caged dock and dressed in white prison uniform, Morsi was fired up as he presented his own defense for the trial in which he stands accused of espionage along with 35 other people.
 
"I am the president, and I have not been stripped off this title," Morsi said during his two-hour appearance in which he attacked Sisi several times without mentioning him by name.
 
"On 3 July (2013), I was surprised by military chiefs suspending the constitution and toppling the president: if this is not a coup, then what is?" said the Muslim Brotherhood member, whose ouster was followed by a relentless crackdown on his supporters that left hundreds dead.
 
Morsi also brushed off the authority of the court.
 
"This court has no jurisdiction over me according to the law and the constitution. Gentlemen, you are not my judges and this is not my court," he told the three-member panel, according to AFP.
 
Morsi accused Sisi of killing some of the roughly 800 protesters during the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak.
 
He said that during his presidency investigators had recorded statements from hotel managers overlooking Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 protests, that "armed personnel from the entity headed by the leader of the coup (Sisi)" had shot demonstrators during the anti-Mubarak uprising.
 
At the time, Sisi served as the chief of military intelligence.
 
The espionage trial, in which prosecutors have asked for the death sentence, is one of several against the former Islamist president. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
More recently, Egypt charged the ousted president and several other people with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Institute: The key to ending terror or the reason for it?

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:59
al-azharJust one month before the Paris massacre of Charlie Hebdo and his staff, the prestigious Sunni Muslim Al-Azhar Institute organized and held a conference at its headquarters in Cairo to address worldwide terrorism. It was entitled, "Al-Azhar in the face of extremism and terrorism." After two full days of discourse focused on the ISIS (Islamic State Iraq Syria) terror group, Al-Azhar concluded with a statement aligned with an earlier one made  by President Obama. ISIS is not Islamic. The President saw fit to omit this opinion from his subsequent speech at the UN, but Al-Ahzar is sticking to it.  
 
Al-Azhar religious scholars (an autonomous body separate from the state but financed by taxpayers) form the center for Koranic interpretation and spiritual guidance to the largest Muslim sect in the world, the Sunnis, estimated at one billion believers -- eighty percent of the worldwide Muslim community. If the religion of Islam were governed by a hierarchy of leadership, Al-Azhar would surely be its head.  
 
Renowned for its doctrinal instruction to imams and its slightest pronouncement (fatwa) obeyed by Muslim followers, Al-Azhar wields a subtle but powerful authority over Muslim believers. Its influence over the West’s perception of Islam is as great. In this capacity, Al-Ahzar has the power to significantly contribute to the eradication of Muslim violence around the world. But instead, what has its impact been as spiritual head with a state role? 
 
Unlike the American president, Al-Azhar would not condemn ISIS when put to the test. Surely, if Al-Ahzar posited that ISIS terror is Islamic then a denunciation of ISIS’ actions would be a condemnation of its own doctrine. But, if ISIS terror is not Islam as Al-Ahzar proclaims what is the harm done with condemning it? This contradiction alone clues us in on a leadership that is allowing if not fostering crimes against humanity.   
This ambiguity coming from the reverential summit of Islamic scholarship transmits confusion and inauthenticity to the West which seeks to find a benign Islam to tolerate. Al-Ahzar’s unwillingness to clarify Islam in relation to current realities and the relative terms sought to define them  – Islam, Islamist, Islamic terror, terror, Islamic extremism, extremism, etc. – is suspicious at best. Anselm Choudary, an outlier, does a better job at being concise and consistent on the Hannity show.    
 
No matter how many millions march for “freedom and tolerance” in Paris and the anti-terror cause in the days following the Hebdo attacks little will change without  Al-Azhar Institute -- the preeminent Islamic authority -- making clear, concise statements to properly identify and condemn violence by Muslims. It could begin by reversing a silence dating back to its 880 AD origins regarding Muslim attacks on the Coptic Christians. This Cairo institute has never condemned the violence or the propaganda of Muslims against Christians within its own state. Tragically, this lack of responsibility has advanced jihad throughout the state and the world.  
 
Al-Ahar excluded Jews from this worldwide summit on terrorism. Its failure to invite synagogues and Jewish leaders was not disguised by its otherwise inclusiveness. Joining the Egyptian Mufti, Dr. Shawki Allam, Al-Azhar University chairman and deputy, and six hundred Muslim scholars (including those of minor sects) from 120 countries were heads of the Eastern Orthodox churches, including Egyptian Copts, and Vatican representatives. Protestant denominations from the West were present, and speakers from communities persecuted by terror groups (Pakistan, Syria, and others) attended.   
 
Did this important conference at the heart of Sunni-Muslim religious learning hold the least promise for genuine examination of worldwide terror? Not really. We’ve seen Al-Ahzar fail to denounce Muslim Brotherhood members as terrorists when the pro-democracy presidency of Al Sisi banned the organization from Egypt last year. Also, the Grand Mufti of Al-Ahzar, who is required by law to confirm or deny death sentences issued by the Egyptian courts, reversed the death penalty of Badeh and others -- all convicted murderers from the Muslim Brotherhood. So far, the Sunni authority of Al-Ahzar has placed itself at odds with Muslims in the Egyptian streets and the rest of the modern world presumably in order to remain true to Islamic doctrine.   
 
At the conference, a Mufti from Nigeria gave a speech in which he recognized ISIS as a terror organization. Generally, any recognition or instruction stated by a Muslim cleric anywhere is considered a fatwa duly acknowledged and followed by all Muslims around the world. In a panic, Al-Ahzar countered the Mufti by issuing a statement negating the Mufti’s point -- overriding it and declaring that ISIS is not a terror organization. The Al-Ahzar statement went on to say that members of ISIS are not Muslim and their actions are not that of Muslims. Then, for good measure, Al-Ahzar emphasized another Koranic verse in order to warn the Nigerian Mufti that it is not his place to condemn ISIS. In short, the reminder stated that any action taken by one Muslim (ISIS members) cannot be judged by another Muslim (Nigerian Mufti). It didn’t matter that Al-Ahzar just declared ISIS a non-Muslim group.    
 
In reaction to Al-Azhar statement, the Egyptian media, attempting to protect the image of Islam, demanded that Al-Azhar label, identify and condemn ISIS as explicitly “Kafir” (non-Muslim) in order to further the deception that terror groups in operation could readily be regarded as being from non-Muslim sources. In response, Dr. Abbas Shoman of Al-Ahzar claimed that the institute had never condemned any believer by disavowing his Muslim identity (assigning him “Kafir”) – a flat out lie. The well-known Egyptian, Farag Fuda, a secular Muslim scholar and human rights advocate critical of Islam and Al-Ahzar, was accused of blasphemy by Al-Ahzar clerics and condemned. The “fatwa” dutifully led to Fuda’s murder, the intended consequence.  
Traced to lies and murder, Al-Ahzar Institute is solely responsible in its actions and teachings for setting the common ethical underpinning of Islamic society. The world would be mistaken to rely upon the leadership of this esteemed Islamic institution for a solution to the world’s crisis.      

Egyptian Court Overturns Mubarak's Conviction on Corruption

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 17 January 2015 14:45
02-16-11An Egyptian court on Tuesday overturned former president Hosni Mubarak's conviction on corruption charges and ordered a retrial, AFP reported.
 
The former president remains in detention pending a judicial order.
 
Supporters of the 86-year-old broke into cheers and chanted "Long Live Justice!" as the Court of Cassation in Cairo announced its decision, which concerns the last remaining of a series of charges laid against Mubarak following his 2011 ouster.
 
Another court in November dropped murder charges against Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the uprising, which ended his three decades of autocratic rule.
 
If Mubarak walks free it would spur accusations against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that the former army chief is reviving the Mubarak era, something he has sought to deny.
 
A lower court had convicted Mubarak and handed him a three-year jail sentence last May on charges that he embezzled money earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.
 
It had also given four-year jail sentences to the toppled leader's sons, Alaa and Gamal, whose convictions were overturned as well on Tuesday. Four other defendants in the case were acquitted.
 
The Court of Cassation did not specify on Tuesday whether Mubarak was a free man following its judgment and did not set a date for a retrial.
 
State media quoted a security official saying the ousted leader would remain in detention absent a judicial order for his release.
 
His lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, told AFP that Mubarak ought to be released as he "has already served" three years in detention, including the time he spent in custody awaiting trial.
 
But Deeb said that for now Mubarak would remain in the military hospital where he currently receives treatment.
 
Al-Sisi has insisted the country will never return to the corrupt ways of the past, despite Mubarak’s verdicts being overturned.
 
The ruling in November enraged Mubarak’s opponents, with about 1,000 converging on a central Cairo square to denounce the government. One person was killed in ensuing clashes.

Egypt's 'Gush Katif': Sinai Border Residents Evicted

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 08 January 2015 08:50
Egyptian soldiers in RafiahThe only way to put an end to terror in Sinai, according to Egyptian official Abdel Fattah Harhour, is to completely raze the Egyptian side of Rafiach.
 
In an interview Thursday, he said that weather conditions in recent days had slowed the rate of evacuation, but that the government must redouble its efforts to remove residents from the area – otherwise it would be impossible to destroy all the terror tunnels from Gaza into Sinai.
 
The Egyptian army is doing just that, with over 1,000 families to be evicted in the coming days in the interest of fighting terror.
 
It turns out that just as Sinai terrorists use the tunnels under Gaza to get into the Hamas-controlled area to bring in goods, Hamas terrorists use them to get into Sinai, where they carry out bombings and shootings against Egyptian police.
 
Just this week, four Egyptian policemen were wounded by a bomb planted at the entrance to an apartment building in the provincial capital of El-Arish. Credit for that attack, like others in recent months, was claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the country's deadliest terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (ISIS).
 
Regardless, Egyptian officials say, many of the terrorists participating in these attacks come from Gaza – and to close off access to Sinai, a secure buffer zone with the Gaza border fence of at least five kilometers will be needed. To accomplish that, said Harhour, who is governor of northern Sinai, Egyptian Rafiach is going to have to go.
 
Families have been given eviction orders, and over 1,000 houses are to be destroyed in the current phase of the evacuation. Each family will be compensated 1,500 Egyptian pounds in addition to “basic” compensation.
 
Rafiach is a border town of 14 districts and 11 villages, with an estimated population of 75,000, according to the city’s official website. Speaking last month, Harhour said that ideally Egypt will build a “new Rafiach” behind the buffer zone line, but work on that has not begun yet.

Egypt: Police Shot Dead Outside Church on Coptic Christmas Eve

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 19:07
Coptic churches targeted by Islamists --archive -ReutersIslamist terrorists shot dead two Egyptian policemen guarding a Coptic church on Orthodox Christians' Christmas Eve, bringing the number of police killed Tuesday to three.
 
The shooting took place in the central city of Minya, a provincial capital which lies some 135 miles south of Egypt's capital Cairo and is home to the country's largest Coptic community.
 
Police have cordoned off the area and are currently pursuing suspects, they said, adding that security has been ramped up around churches.
 
It follows an earlier incident Tuesday in which a policeman was killed when an explosive device he was trying to disarm detonated. Three other people were injured in the blast, which occurred in Giza city, west of Cairo
 
Copts make up roughly 10% of the Egyptian population, and have long complained of systematic discrimination both by authorities and the country's majority Muslim population.
 
Attacks against Copts - an indigenous ethnic group who practice their own distinct brand of Orthodox Christianity - escalated significantly following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. A large number of churches and other Christian establishments were burned and ransacked and many Copts were murdered in a string of deadly attacks, after Muslim extremists scapegoated the minority group, which they said backed Morsi's ouster. 
 
Since then the wave of attacks have ebbed, but Egyptian Christians say they are still being targeted by Muslim gangs.
 
It follows an incident in nearby Libya in which a group of Coptic Christians were kidnapped, and later released, by an armed gang.
 
Minya has been the scene of numerous anti-Brotherhood court rulings, including several mass-death sentences issued by the city's courts against hundreds of Brotherhood supporters.

Thirteen Coptic Christians Abducted in Libya

Category: News
Created on Monday, 05 January 2015 07:37
libya-egypt-copt1armed and masked gunmen in central Libya abducted 13 Coptic Christians on Saturday, according to a priest and an eyewitness, several days after seven more were abducted from the same area. 
 
The abductors, who had a list of the full names of their victims, went from room to room in the Christians' residence in Sirte at about 2:30 am, the eyewitness told the Associated Press, and abducted the Christians after asking for identification papers to prove they were Muslim. 
 
Abu Makar, a Coptic priest in the workers' hometown of Samalout in southern Egypt, confirmed the abduction and added that seven others had been abducted days earlier as they tried to escape Sirte. 
 
Recently, a Coptic Christian couple and their daughter were also killed in Sirte, which has become the stronghold for the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group. More than three years after the fall of Qaddafi, independent militias still control large part of the North African country and regularly fight each other. Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the situation and are training fighters on Libyan soil.
 
Egypt's Foreign Ministry stated that it is following up on the reports and urged all Egyptian citizens to stay indoors until a safe means of rescue can be established. Sending a diplomatic mission is not an option, it said, because of the anarchy and chaos in Libya, where many regions are outside state control. 
 
Egypt evacuated its embassy in Tripoli and consulate in Benghazi last year after kidnappers seized Egypt’s cultural attaché and three other embassy diplomats.
 
It is believed that the kidnappings were a response to the arrest in Egypt of Shaaban Hadiya, a prominent former rebel commander who fought in the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Egyptian Soldiers Shoot and Kill Gazan in Rafah

Category: News
Created on Monday, 05 January 2015 07:18
Egyptian soldiers in RafiahEgyptian soldiers firing from across the border shot dead a Palestinian Arab man in the Gaza frontier town of Rafah on Friday, medics said, although the motive was not immediately known.
 
The border troops shot the 23-year-old man "in the back and the bullet settled in the heart. He died on the spot," emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told the AFP news agency.
 
The shooting was confirmed by the spokesman of the interior ministry in Gaza, Iyad al-Bazm, in a message on his Facebook page.
 
"A Palestinian citizen, aged 23, was killed by Egyptian army fire on the Egyptian-Palestinian border and the security agencies are investigating the incident to find out the motives," the message said, according to AFP.
 
The man, whose identity was not revealed, is the first Palestinian "to have been killed in a long time"  along the border between Gaza and Egypt, according to Qudra.
 
While the motive remains unclear, Egypt is including Gaza in its crackdown on terrorism in the Sinai, which it claims Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been assisting.
 
On Tuesday, Egypt announced that work to double the width of a buffer zone  along the Gaza border would begin next week to prevent militants infiltrating from the Palestinian enclave.
 
The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in October in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Egyptian sources have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai, thus making the buffer zone necessary.
 
As part of the buffer zone plan, the Egyptian military is seizing and evacuating homes belonging to Gazans.
 
Egypt initially said it would wipe out all homes to a depth of 500 meters (over 1,640 feet) all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Later it doubled that depth to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles).
 
The international community has been silent thus far about the buffer zone and the expulsions that have resulted from it. One exception is Amnesty International, which condemned Egypt's demolition of hundreds of homes and called for a halt to its "unlawful evictions" of residents.
 
After October’s attack, Egypt declared a three-month emergency in parts of North Sinai, a remote but strategic region bordering Israel and Gaza, and closed the Rafah border crossing for two months.
 
Egypt reopened the crossing for two days in November and again in December, for three days, to allow people stranded in Egypt to return to Gaza and for Gazans to leave.

Egypt Set to Begin Doubling Gaza Buffer Zone

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 January 2015 05:13
Egypt destroys Gaza home for buffer zoneEgypt said Tuesday that work will begin next week to double the width of a buffer zone being built along the border with Gaza to prevent terrorists infiltrating into Egypt from the region, AFP reported.
 
A 500-meter wide buffer zone is now being built along some 10 kilometers of the border, with some 800 homes being demolished in the process.
 
Work will begin next week to expand it by another 500 meters, North Sinai provincial Governor Abdel Fattah Harhur said.
 
Harhur told AFP he had met families from the area to be evacuated and told them they needed to inform authorities of the border city of Rafiah whether they want financial compensation or alternative housing.
 
The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in October in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Egyptian sources have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai, thus making the buffer zone necessary.
 
As part of the buffer zone plan, the Egyptian military is seizing and evacuating homes belonging to Gazans.
 
Egypt initially said it would wipe out all homes to a depth of 500 meters(over 1,640 feet) all along the 13 kilometer (over eight mile) border. Later it doubled that depth to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles).
 
The international community has been silent thus far about the buffer zone and the expulsions that have resulted from it. One exception is Amnesty International, which condemned Egypt's demolition of hundreds of homes and called for a halt to its "unlawful evictions" of residents.

Hamas Denies Qatar Cut its Funding Over Egypt

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 December 2014 08:16
Mahmoud al-Zahar -ReutersHamas on Sunday denied a Kuwaiti newspaper's report that Qatar has informed Hamas that it would be temporarily halting its financial support, reports i24news.
 
The Kuwaiti Al Jarida reported last week that the move was made in order to push Hamas to change its policy against Egypt, which the Gulf state has just reconciled with.
 
The report continued on to say that Hamas must end its incitement against Egypt as well as stop smuggling weapons to terror organizations in the Sinai peninsula from the Hamas-controlled strip.
 
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said, however, that the report was completely untrue.
 
“Hamas does not meddle in the internal affairs of Egypt,” al-Zahar said, adding, “Nor does Hamas pose a threat to Egypt’s national security."
 
He welcomed the rapprochement between Qatar and Egypt, saying, according to i24news, “We are against wasting Arab efforts on internal differences, while the enemy is waging war on us and confiscating our rights in Jerusalem.”
 
Qatar had pledged its "full support" to Egypt on Monday, ending more than a year of regional isolation over its support for Cairo's ousted Islamist president.
 
The statement came a day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo with a Qatari envoy.
 
Qatar repeatedly denounced Sisi's ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi and it still provides shelter for some Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt.
 
The crackdown led to a months-long diplomatic spat pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which all supported the ouster of Morsi.
 
In an unprecedented development, the three nations had recalled their ambassadors from Doha back in March, in protest against Qatar's support for the Islamist movement, then returned their diplomatic staff to Qatar in November.
 
Earlier this month, at a reconciliation summit hosted by Riyadh, Qatar joined its Gulf neighbors in supporting Egypt under Sisi.

Egypt Bans 'Zionist' and 'Inaccurate' Film on Exodus

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 28 December 2014 21:51
Egypt Bans Film on ExodusEgypt announced it has banned a Hollywood film based on the Biblical book of Exodus because of what censors described as "historical inaccuracies", reports the BBC.
 
The head of the Egyptian censorship board said these “inaccuracies” included the film's depiction of Jews as having built the Pyramids, and that an earthquake, not a miracle by Moses, caused the Red Sea to part.
 
The film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” stars Christian Bale as Moses.
 
According to the book of Exodus, Jewish slaves were led to freedom by Moses after G-d inflicted a series of plagues on Egypt.
 
The Biblical story tells how the Red Sea was parted by a miracle performed by G-d, allowing the Jewish people to escape from the pursuing Egyptian army.
 
Egyptian Culture Minister Jabir Asfour slammed the film as "Zionist", saying, according to CNN, "It shows history from a Zionist viewpoint and forges historical events, therefore it is was banned in Egypt.”
 
The banning of the Exodus film follows a similar move in March, when several Muslim countries banned Paramount Pictures' "Noah", which told the story of Noah, who survived the Flood by building an ark according to G-d's word, as related in the Torah.
 
Countries including Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced they banned the film, while Egypt's leading Sunni Muslim religious institute said it rejected "screening of any production that characterizes Allah’s prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet (Mohammed)."
 
According to the BBC, there have also been reports that the Exodus film is banned in Morocco.
 
Although the state-run Moroccan Cinema Centre (CCM) had given the film the green light, Moroccan business website Medias24.com said that officials had decided to ban the movie from being screened the day before its premiere.

Qatar Cuts Hamas Funding for Egypt Alliance

Category: Reports
Created on Saturday, 27 December 2014 15:23
qatar-abbas-hamasReports in a Kuwaiti paper Friday morning indicate that Qatar has temporarily cut its funding for the Gaza-based Muslim Brotherhood-offshoot Hamas terrorist organization, in an attempt to cull favor with Egypt and lead to rapprochement between the two rival nations.
 
The report in Al Jarida cited a senior Egyptian source saying that Qatar has informed Hamas leaders that it will temporarily stop its support of the group to press it to make several concessions that will aid ties with Egypt, which has been cracking down on Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Those concessions include a cessation of Hamas's antagonistic policy towards Egypt, incitement against Egypt, and an end to transferring weapons to Islamic terrorist organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
In return, Hamas asked that Qatar serve as an intermediary between it and Egypt so as to reduce the tensions between the two, according to the Egyptian source; the reports have yet to be officially confirmed.
 
Hamas reportedly supplied the weapons used in lethal attacks on Egyptian soldiers in Sinai last October, which led Egypt to expel Gazans in establishing a wide buffer zone on the Gaza border with Sinai that has severely impacted Gaza.
 
Meanwhile Qatar has been taking active steps to solidify improved relations with Egypt, after years of tension due to Qatar's support of Muslim Brotherhood.
 
As part of those steps of rapprochement, Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera news network on Monday shut down its Egypt channel, easing a source of tension as Egypt has accused the news source of being a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Just two days earlier, a Qatari envoy met with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the first such meeting since he was elected in June.
 
Al-Sisi’s office said Egypt hoped the meeting, which was attended by a Saudi royal envoy, was the beginning of a "new era" that puts the past disagreements between the two countries behind.
 
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has expressed its welcome regarding ongoing steps that will strengthen relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Qatar, including the visit made by Special Envoy of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdelrahman Al Thani to Egypt," read a Saudi Royal Court statement after the meeting.
 
"Saudi Arabia stressed its support and keenness on opening a new page between the two countries for enhancing integration and cooperation between the two countries to achieve higher interests of the Arab and Islamic nations, hoping of all honorable scientists, intellectuals, writers and men of the media outlets responding and supporting this step," it added.

Egyptian Officer and Soldier Killed by Roadside Bomb

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 December 2014 13:04
Roadside BombA roadside bomb struck an Egyptian army vehicle late Thursday, killing an officer and a soldier in the insurgent flashpoint of the Sinai Peninsula, security officials said, according to the AFP news agency.
 
The attack occurred south of the town of El-Arish, scene of frequent attacks by Islamist terrorists on security forces.
 
One army officer and a soldier were killed in the blast, while another soldier was wounded.
 
Egypt's military has been battling an insurgency on the peninsula since it overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year and cracked down on his supporters.
 
Most of the attacks have been claimed by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the country's deadliest terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (ISIS).
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi’s ouster was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The government declared a state of emergency in parts of North Sinai after an October 24 suicide attack near El-Arish killed 30 soldiers in the deadliest assault on security forces since Morsi's ouster.
 
Egypt has been forming a “buffer zone” alongside the border with Gaza in response to the October attack, claiming it was aided by none other than Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
 
As part of the buffer zone plan, the Egyptian military is seizing and evacuating homes belonging to Gazans, a fact which has been mostly ignored by the world.

Israeli Team Searching for Remains of Missing Soldiers in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 27 December 2014 11:44
Searching for Remains of Missing Soldiers in EgyptAn Israeli delegation is reportedly in Egypt Thursday to search for the remains of 22 missing soldiers.
 
According to Egyptian media reports, the delegation arrived early this morning from Amman, Jordan. The bodies are believed to include those of 16 soldiers who went missing during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as well as others missing in action since the 1967 Six Day War and the War of Attrition before it.
 
It is not the first search party dispatched by Israel to locate and recover soldiers' remains believed to be in Egypt, but it is the first such visit for four years.
 
Since the ouster of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, no such teams have been sent; the last search took place in February 2010.
 
News of the renewed search comes just a day after Israel handed over the bodies of the two terrorists who carried out the massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue last month.
 
Israeli authorities had initially refused to hand the bodies over to family members, but after an apparent about-turn Uday and Ghassan Abu-Jamal were buried in a low-key ceremony last night.

Egypt's ISIS Affiliate Executes Two 'Informants'

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 25 December 2014 12:01
Egypts ISIS Affiliate Executes Two Informants -Illustrate-An Egyptian jihadist group released video footage on Tuesday that it said showed the execution of two army informants in the insurgent flashpoint of the Sinai Peninsula, AFP reports.
 
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the country's deadliest terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (ISIS), has previously released videos of beheadings.
 
The new video posted on YouTube shows the "confessions" of four men who admitted to being informants.
 
It then shows a man shooting two handcuffed men, one of whom is also blindfolded, in the head. However, it is not clear if the two men killed were among those had confessed.
 
Jihadists are also shown manning checkpoints and searching for soldiers and policemen, and the footage features a militant vowing to launch more attacks on Egyptian security forces.
 
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis (lit. Partisans of Jerusalem) says it has killed at least 12 people since August last year, often by beheading, for allegedly working for Israel's Mossad spy agency.
 
Security in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel has worsened since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July last year.
 
Terrorists have killed scores of security personnel, saying the attacks are in retaliation for a brutal government campaign against Morsi's supporters.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Egypt's Sisi Meets Qatari Envoy

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 24 December 2014 17:54
Sisi Meets Qatari EnvoyEgypt said Saturday it aims to end differences with Qatar, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with an envoy from the Gulf emirate, reports AFP.
 
Ties between Cairo and Doha deteriorated after Sisi, who was then the army chief, ousted Mohammed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement is backed by Qatar.
 
Since Morsi's ouster in July last year, a crackdown overseen by Sisi against the Brotherhood has left hundreds dead.
 
Qatar repeatedly denounced Sisi's ouster of Morsi and it still provides shelter for some Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt.
 
The crackdown led to a months-long diplomatic spat pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which all supported the ouster of Morsi.
 
In an unprecedented development, the three nations had recalled their ambassadors from Doha back in March, in protest against Qatar's support for the Islamist movement, then returned their diplomatic staff to Qatar in November.
 
Earlier this month, at a reconciliation summit hosted by Riyadh, Qatar joined its Gulf neighbors in supporting Egypt under Sisi.
 
"Egypt looks forward to a new era that ends past disagreements," Sisi's office said after he met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdel Rahman Al-Thani, a special envoy of Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Qatar Supports Sisi's Egypt Despite Crackdown on Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 09:13
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -ReutersQatar on Tuesday joined its neighbors in supporting Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite his crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Qatar has been a longtime supporter.
 
According to AFP, leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, in their final statement, announced their "full support to Egypt" and the "political program of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi".
 
"We believe that a strong Egypt is in the interest of all Arabs and especially for GCC states," Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah told a press conference at the end of the summit.
 
Convening the Doha summit, which had been shortened to one day, was made possible only by last-minute Kuwaiti mediation that succeeded in resolving a dispute between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain with Qatar over the Brotherhood.
 
In an unprecedented development, the three nations had recalled their ambassadors from Doha back in March, in protest against Qatar's support for the Islamist movement, branded as a terrorist organization by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, and outlawed in Egypt.
 
Qatar had repeatedly denounced Sisi's ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, and still provides shelter for many Brotherhood leaders, especially those who have been forced to flee a crackdown in Egypt, though it did expel some members of the Muslim Brotherhood from its territory in September.
 
Diplomatic staff returned to Qatar last month, paving the way for Tuesday's summit.
 
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said he hoped the summit would "signal a new beginning for Gulf relations".
 
The GCC leaders reiterated their resolve to combat terrorism and welcomed a UN Security Council resolution condemning human rights abuses in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State (ISIS) group and Al-Qaeda's Al-Nusra Front.
 
"The leaders have reaffirmed the GCC positions of deploring terrorism and extremism in all forms, regardless of its reasons and justifications or source," the final statement said, according to AFP.
 
In his opening remarks, Sheikh Tamim called for a joint regional effort to confront "terrorism".

Egypt: Court Suggests Death Penalty for 4 Brotherhood Leaders

Category: News
Created on Monday, 08 December 2014 15:40
Members of Egypts Muslim BrotherhoodA Cairo court on Sunday referred four Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who are on trial for the killing of nine and injuring more than 90 in 2013, to Egypt's grand mufti to consider the death penalty.
 
The defendants in the case include 17 Brotherhood leaders, among which are former Parliament Speaker Saad El-Katatni, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, and his deputy Khairat El-Shater, according to the Al-Ahram newspaper.
 
The top Brotherhood leaders involved in the case are not among those referred to the grand mufti, however, the report stressed.
 
The court has set February 28 2015 for a final verdict on the remaining defendants.
 
The defendants are accused of murder, inciting violence, and possession of live ammunition.
 
The sentences are the latest in an ongoing crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood which began in 2013 when the army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
Last week, a court sentenced 188 defendants to death for a violent attack on a police station after Morsi’s ouster that left 11 police personnel and two civilians dead.
 
More than 500 people were sentenced to death in March for a separate attack on a police station in Minya on the same day.
 
In April, another 683 supporters of Morsi, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death as well.
 
The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".
 
The United States and the European Union have decried the mass convictions as well, but Egypt rejected the criticism, terming it “unacceptable interference in the judiciary affairs”.

Egypt Hands Down Death Sentences to 188 Brotherhood Supporters

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 04:19
Muslim protestsMore than 180 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were on Tuesday sentenced to death in Egypt over a 2013 attack on a police station near Cairo, the BBC reported.
 
The attack took place on the same day as Egyptian security forces broke up protest camps set up by Brotherhood supporters, leaving hundreds dead.
 
The latest sentences are subject to the opinion of Egypt's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti.
 
A final verdict is due on 24 January, after which defendants may appeal.
 
More than 140 of the 188 defendants are already in custody, while the rest have been sentenced in absentia, noted the BBC.
 
The sentences were passed for an attack on a police station in the village of Kerdasa on August 14, 2013, in which at least 11 officers were killed.
 
More than 500 people were sentenced to death in March for a separate attack on a police station in Minya on the same day.
 
In April, another 683 supporters of Morsi, including leading members of his Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death as well.
 
The prosecution of a further 919 suspected Islamists was ordered by the authorities in two separate trials in the same month. Just last week, a court in Egypt sentenced 78 youth to up to five years in prison for protesting with the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The rise of mass convictions in Egypt has been described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".
 
The United States and the European Union have decried the mass convictions as well, but Egypt rejected the criticism, terming it “unacceptable interference in the judiciary affairs”.

Sisi: Egypt is Going Forward, Not Backwards

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 03:11
Al Sisi for presidentEgypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the country will never return to the corrupt ways of the past, after a court dismissed murder charges against former leader Hosni Mubarak.
 
"The new Egypt, which emerged from the January 25 (2011) and June 30 (2013) revolutions, is on a path to establish a modern democratic state based on justice, freedom, equality and a renunciation of corruption," Sisi said in a statement released late Sunday and quoted by AFP.
 
Sisi was referring to the uprising which toppled president Mubarak in 2011 and the military's overthrow of his Islamist successor, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests two years later.
 
He said that Egypt is on a “path to the future and can never go back to the past.”
 
A Cairo court on Saturday dropped murder charges against Mubarak over the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended three decades of his autocratic rule.
 
Seven of his security commanders, including ex-interior minister Habib al-Adly, were also acquitted over the deaths.
 
Corruption charges against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal were likewise dropped.
 
The ruling enraged Mubarak’s opponents, with about 1,000 converging on a central Cairo square to denounce the government. One person was killed in ensuing clashes.
 
Sisi, who was Mubarak's intelligence chief, won a landslide victory in a May presidential election after crushing Islamist and secularist opponents.
 
As army chief he removed Morsi in July 2013.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, a crackdown on his supporters has left at least 1,400 dead and seen more than 15,000 people imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization.
 
On Monday, leftist leaders condemned Saturday's verdict, on which Sisi said he could not comment because it was a judicial matter.
 
It was a "black day in Egypt's history," said Hamdeen Sabbahi, who lost the May presidential election to Sisi.
 
"The president must decide who he is siding with at this critical moment," Sabbahi told a press conference, according to AFP.
 
"Is he with the people, the revolution and its demands, or is he with those in the media calling for the return of Mubarak and his regime?"

Egypt Designates ISIS and its Affiliates as Terrorist Groups

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 13:25
sisi muslimbrotherhoodAn Egyptian court on Sunday designated the Islamic State (ISIS) a terrorist organization and banned it in the country.
 
According to The Associated Press, the court ruling adds that it considers all of the ISIS's affiliates to be terrorist organizations as well.
 
One of the ISIS affiliates is the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the last year, and has beheaded several people  in acts similar to those of ISIS.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
In early November, the group pledged allegiance to ISIS on Twitter,  just a week after using the same Twitter account to deny reports saying it had pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Convicted of 'Insulting the Court'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 09:46
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie File -AFPAn Egyptian judge sentenced the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and 25 others on Sunday to three years in jail for insulting the court, Reuters reports.
 
Badie, who is the Brotherhood's general guide, is among hundreds of the group's members who have already received death sentences and lengthy jail terms in mass trials criticized by Western governments and human rights groups.
 
Coming on top of those verdicts, Sunday's ruling was made during the trial of more than 100 Brotherhood supporters on charges related to the storming of prisons during the popular uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
The judge, Shaaban al-Shamy, decided to punish the defendants after a number of them began chanting "void, void" in response to some of his remarks.
 
The unusually harsh penalty for courtroom rowdiness was handed out shortly after another Egyptian court dropped its case against Mubarak over the killing of protesters in the Tahrir Square revolt that ended his 30-year rule and raised hopes of a new era of political openness.
 
His overthrow led to Egypt's first free election, but the winner, Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi, was ousted last year, after protests against his rule.
 
Egyptian authorities have since jailed Morsi and thousands of Brotherhood supporters. By contrast, Mubarak-era figures have been released and new laws curtailing political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old leadership is back.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A video of him released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.

Bomb Explodes Near Train Station in Southern Egypt

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 November 2014 11:25
Bomb Explodes Near Train Station - EgyptA bomb went off near a train station in southern Egypt Saturday night, as police found three other explosive devices planted on railway tracks in the region, the government said, according to AFP.
 
A charred body was found near the railway station in Wasta, a town in the province of Beni Suef, the interior ministry said, adding it probably belonged to the person who had planted the bomb.
 
Security forces combed the region and found three other explosive devices on railway lines linking Cairo to the far southern city of Aswan, the ministry said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
 
Egypt has been hit by a wave of bombings and shootings since the military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.
 
Assailants have stepped up attacks targeting public transport, including a bomb last week on a train north of Cairo that killed two policemen and two passengers.
 
Another recent attack targeted a navy vessel in the Mediterranean and left eight servicemen missing at sea.
 
On Thursday four people were hurt in a stampede at the capital’s Ramses station after a blast inside a compartment of a train that pulled in from the Nile Delta, security officials said.
 
The majority of the attacks in Egypt have been claimed by the jihadist Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the last year.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 

Egyptian Prosecutors Ask for Death Sentence for Morsi

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 November 2014 10:22
Mohamed Mursi - ReutersEgypt's state news agency reported on Wednesday that prosecutors have asked for the death sentence for ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on trial on espionage charges.
 
According to The Associated Press (AP), prosecutor Emad el-Sharawy said in closing remarks that Morsi and his aides leaked state security documents to foreign intelligence agencies, namely Iran, while in office for one year.
 
The military removed Morsi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against him accusing him and the Brotherhood of monopolizing power.
 
El-Sharawy said the defendants, who include Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 34 others, cooperated with terrorist groups, including Gaza's Hamas, to destabilize Egypt.
 
Morsi told the court he refused its jurisdiction. He asked to defend himself in upcoming sessions, according to AP. The case resumes on November 26 for closing defense remarks.
 
The trial in question is one of several against the Islamist former president. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
More recently, Egypt charged the ousted president and several other people with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar.

Egypt Doubles Size of Gaza Buffer Zone

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 23 November 2014 05:05
Hamas fighters hold picture of Mohammed MorsiEgypt will double to one kilometer (0.62 mile) the depth of a buffer zone it is clearing on its border with Gaza, Reuters reported on Monday.
 
"A decision was taken to increase the buffer zone along the border in Rafah to one kilometer. The decision...came after the discovery of underground tunnels with a total length of 800 to 1,000 meters," the state MENA news agency said.
 
The decision on the buffer zone was made following two deadly attacks in El-Arish, which killed dozens of soldiers and were claimed by Egypt’s deadliest terrorist group, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
As part of the buffer zone plan, the Egyptian military is seizing and evacuating homes belonging to Gazans.
 
Residents of Sinai, who complain they have long been neglected by the state, say they rely on smuggling trade through the tunnels for their living and the creation of the buffer zone has stoked resentment. Egyptian authorities see them as a threat and regularly destroy them.
 
Egyptian sources have revealed that Hamas terrorists had provided the weapons for the lethal attacks in El-Arish through one of its smuggling tunnels under the border to Sinai.
 
In the recent Operation Protective Edge, the IDF was faced with lethal attack tunnels from under mosques, but nevertheless was hit by massive international criticism for its defensive operation - a criticism that has been completely absent regarding Egypt's "buffer zone" plan.
 
Egypt has been cracking down on Hamas, in recent months banning the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot and implementing a siege on Gaza.
 
While Egypt has deployed troops to the Sinai to fight the rampant jihadist terrorism in the region in coordination with Israel, concerns remain that the Egyptian disarmament of the peninsula as part of its peace agreement with Israel may be in danger of collapsing altogether, posing a potential military threat to Israel.

Sinai Jihadists Claim Attack Which Killed 30 Soldiers

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 22 November 2014 14:22
Ansar Bayt Al-MaqdisAnsar Bayt Al-Maqdis, Egypt's deadliest terrorist group which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), claimed responsibility for a suicide attack last month that killed 30 soldiers, AFP reported on Saturday.
 
The group made the claim in a video posted on social media, according to the report.
 
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis has killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi last year, but the October 24 attack in which a jihadist rammed a military checkpoint in northern Sinai with an explosives-packed car was the deadliest such incident in years.
 
It said it was acting in retaliation for a crackdown on Islamist supporters following Morsi's removal from power.
 
At least 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown, while more than 15,000 have been jailed and hundreds sentenced to death.
 
In the video, the group promises further attacks against the security forces and said it was speaking directly to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Morsi and unleashed a crackdown on Islamists.
 
The October attack caused Egypt to declare a state of emergency in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, and has also resulted in Egypt beginning to form a “buffer zone” alongside the border with Gaza. Egyptian security sources have said that the deadly attack was aided by none other than Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
 
Earlier this week, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis pledged its allegiance to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, in a bid to oost recruitment and bolster its fight against the Egyptian army, according to analysts.

Egypt Threatens Israel with 'Regional Deterioration'

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 11 November 2014 05:30
Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi was sworn into office on Sunday at Cairos Supreme Constitutional Court. Al ArabiyaSenior Egyptian officials both from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government and the army have contacted their Israeli counterparts in the last two days, threatening that the tensions over the Temple Mount may cause "regional deterioration."
 
The covert communication, which was revealed to the Hebrew-language site Walla!, included a warning regarding Jordan's move to pull its ambassador to Israel on Wednesday, after Arab rioters attacked police on the Mount - the holiest site in Judaism - and forced them to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque after barricading themselves inside and launching a hail of fireworks and rocks.
 
The Egyptian sources reportedly said Jordan isn't the only country that is "upset" by the tensions at the site, and that the entire Arab world is united in opposing Israel's enforcement of order on the Mount, which is under the de facto control of the Jordanian waqf (Islamic trust).
 
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) visited the Mount in a call for Jewish prayer rights at the site on Sunday, after Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was shot last Wednesday by an Arab terrorist; likewise, Building Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) dismissed Jordanian threats regarding the Mount.
 
In response, the Egyptian sources reportedly demanded that Israel's leadership "rein in" the statements.
 
The demand casts a different light on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin's decision to take the unusual move Thursday of calling MKs individually and urging them to quiet down the Temple Mount discussion.
 
It also reflects on Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's (Yisrael Beytenu) public condemnation of "irresponsible politicians" visiting the Temple Mount on Thursday, in which he called such visits "stupidity" and a search for cheap publicity.
 
Liberman is the only one able to replace Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich of his own party who has come in for heat over his inability to prevent Arab terrorism in the capital, but his statement indicates he has little intention of doing so. Aharonovich on Wednesday said following the latest terror attack it likely isn't the last.
 
On the Jordanian front, Netanyahu has released a statement since the Wednesday recall of the ambassador vowing to keep the discriminatory status quo on the Temple Mount, and on Thursday called Jordanian King Abdullah II and promised to him that he would not allow Jewish prayer at the site.

Commander of Jihadist Group Killed in Sinai Clashes

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 09:58
Remains of Egyptian firefight in Sinai with terrorists -ReutersEgypt's army on Thursday killed a field commander for Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country's most dangerous Islamist group, Reuters reported, citing local security sources.
 
The man was killed during clashes in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the sources said.
 
Mohamed Abu Shatiya, who took part in the kidnapping of seven Egyptian soldiers in Sinai last year, died during fighting with the army south of Rafah, on the border with Gaza.
 
Two tons of explosives were confiscated from a nearby tunnel connecting Sinai to Gaza during the incident, the sources said, according to Reuters.
 
Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the last year and beheaded several people in recent weeks, saying they were spies for Israeli intelligence.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Egyptian security officials have said Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has contacts with the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), now targeted by U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria after sweeping through border areas and declaring a state.

Egypt Sentences 68 Brotherhood Supporters to Jail

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 16:26
Muslim protestsAn Egyptian court sentenced 68 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to jail terms on Tuesday, judicial sources said, according to Reuters.
 
They were convicted in a case related to deadly violence a year ago after the army's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
All were found guilty of killing 30 people and intending to kill others in Cairo on October 6, 2013, when more than 50 people died in clashes across the country between Morsi opponents and supporters.
 
Judge Mohamed Ali Al-Faqi gave 63 of the defendants 15 years in jail and five others 10 years, according to Reuters.
 
Since Morsi’s ouster, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the subject of a broad crackdown, which has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed.
 
Morsi himself is currently on trial in several cases. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
In another trial, Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
In addition to these trials, Egypt recently charged the ousted president, along with several other people, with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar

Egypt Set to Boycott Turkey Over Muslim Brotherhood Support

Category: News
Created on Monday, 29 September 2014 12:36
Erdogan R Mohamed Mursi  AFPOfficials in Egypt are demanding an immediate and total boycott of Turkish goods, and even a breakoff of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Egyptian media reports said. The call is the latest chapter in the steady and ongoing decline in relations between the two countries, with Turkey accusing Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of everything to “illegitimacy” to “terrorism” to “war crimes.”
 
The sour relations between the two countries have their roots in the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi by the al-Sisi led Egyptian army several years ago. Since then, Turkey has slammed al-Sisi as being a “dictator” who is “persecuting Muslims.” Just last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would welcome seven top Muslim Brotherhood figures being forced to leave Qatar, indicating his strong ties with the Islamist group - and by extension with its Gaza offshoot Hamas.
 
"In the event that they request to come to Turkey, then necessary investigations will be carried out. ...If there are no obstacles, the mandatory convenience provided to everyone will also be provided to them," Erdogan said on returning from an official trip to Qatar, reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
 
"They can come to Turkey just like any other foreign visitor, if there are no problems," added Erdogan, in a position contrary to that of most Arab states which have supported Egypt's crackdown on the group.
 
Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated during Operation Protective Edge, when, according to Turkey, Egypt took an active role against Hamas, assisting Israel in battling the Gaza terror group, and saying he could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce with Israel. "Is Sisi a party (to a ceasefire)? Sisi is a tyrant himself," Erdogan was quoted by the AFP news agency as having told reporters. "He is not different from the others," he said, adding that it was Egypt's current rulers who were blocking humanitarian aid channels to Gaza.
 
Egypt, for its part, has had enough, reports in the Egyptian media said Monday, and the government was seriously considering a total economic boycott of Turkey. In a statement, Egypt's Foreign Ministry slammed a speech by Erdogan at the World Economic Forum last week, in which he repeated many of his accusations against al-Sisi and his government.
 
Turkey, the statement said, “has been suffering over the past 12 years of Erdogan's rule of non-democratic practices with all disregard to human rights.” The statement also denounced Erdogan's restrictions on freedom of expression “as well as the use of excessive force against political activists and peaceful protesters, citing the closure of social networks such as Twitter in a flagrant breach of the freedom of opinion as well as restrictions on press and judiciary, corruption charges as well as unjust sentences against journalists and writers.
 
“Such recurrent practices and non-democratic acts could never give Erdogan any ethical or political justification for speaking about democracy, but they only reflect a personal ideology for the Turkish leader who has illusions about restoring the glory of the Ottoman Empire away from the national interests of his country and people,” it added.

Egyptian Host: I Can Understand Suicide Bombings in Israel

Category: News
Created on Friday, 26 September 2014 11:16
New Terror Group in CairoAn Egyptian television host recently said she “understood” Muslims carrying out suicide bombings in Israel, since Israel is “the enemy”, but rejected Muslims doing the same to Christians and fellow Muslims.
 
The host, Rola Kharsa, made the comments on a program which aired on Egypt’s Sada Al-Balad TV on August 30. The remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
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“I can understand this when it happens in Israel. We were raised to believe that Israel is the enemy. I do not condone it, but I can understand it, because all our lives we considered the Muslims to be the enemies of the Israelis,” she said.
 
“If one believes that he is liberating the Arab world, or Jerusalem – you can somehow say that there is logic here, but not when someone kills a Muslim or a Christian – fellow citizen – who has done nothing wrong. Why would I blow myself up and kill him?” continued Kharsa.
 
Egypt, and particularly the Sinai Peninsula, has been the target of endless terrorist attacks, particularly since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013.
 
Most of these attacks have been claimed by the Salafist Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis group. The group has claimed, among other attacks, the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Coptic Christians who live in Egypt have been constantly targeted by terrorists as well.
 
Anti-Christian violence has seriously escalated in the aftermath of the removal of Morsi, whose supporters have been accused of scapegoating the Coptic community, after its leader, Pope Tawadros II, came out in support of the move by the army to oust Morsi.
 
A number of Christians have been murdered, and scores of churches and Christian-owned houses and businesses have been torched, ransacked and vandalized in the weeks since Morsi's removal.

Palestinian, Egyptian Commentators Argue about Gaza War

Category: Media
Created on Thursday, 25 September 2014 17:10
Israeli airstrike in GazaThe Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has translated a recent TV debate between Dr. Muhammad Al-Shtayyeh, a Fatah leader in Cairo, and Ashraf Abu Al-Houl, deputy editor-in-chief of the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper.
 
The two argued over the achievements that Hamas had claimed following the Gaza war.
 
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The debate was broadcast on the Egyptian ON TV channel on August 28. While Shtayyeh said that “the victory can be attributed to the Palestinian people”, Al-Houl blasted Hamas and said the group gave justification for Israel to attack by kidnapping and murdering Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Sha’ar.
 
Al-Houl also said that Hamas had humiliated Egypt by refusing its ceasefire proposal and asking for another country to mediate in the ceasefire talks.

Egypt blast kills ‘witness against Mursi’

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 18:37
Forensic workers and policemen investigations at the scene of a bomb blast in Cairo ReutersA bomb blast beside Egypt’s foreign ministry killed three policemen on Sunday, including a key witness in a trial of deposed Islamist President Mohammad Mursi.
 
The blast, the worst attack in Cairo for months, killed two police lieutenant colonels and a recruit, Reuters news agency quoted the foreign ministry.
 
Ajnad Misr, the Islamist militant group that carried out the last significant attack in Cairo, claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement posted on their official Twitter account.
 
"This new operation shows we can penetrate and reach the vicinity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs...to destroy the officers of the criminal security agencies and make them taste some of what they have made Muslims taste," it said.
 
"Operations of retribution and revenge by this blessed group will not stop," said the group, whose name means Soldiers of Egypt.
 
One of the police officers killed in the blast, Lt. Col. Mohamed Mahmoud Abu Sareeaa, was a critical witness in a trial of Mursi related to a 2011 mass prison break, court and security sources told Reuters.
 
It was not clear if he was targeted or just happened to be at the site of the explosion
 
The blast was the latest attack in a simmering insurgency against the U.S.-backed government, underlining security challenges facing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
 
State television earlier reported that the blast occured along a sidewalk in the neighborhood of Boulaq abu Eila, which houses the foreign ministry and state television headquarters beside the Nile.
 
Live television footage showed the aftermath of the blast, which brought a tree down on a nearby car. Policemen with sniffer dogs were scouring the area for more bombs.
 
Militants have killed scores of policemen in bombings and shootings since Egypt's military toppled Mursi in July 2013.
 
Militants have in the past set off several bombs in succession, to target first responders after the initial attack.
 
Attacks in the capital raise concerns over security forces, who have vowed to end Islamist militant bloodshed that has hammered the tourism industry, a pillar of the economy.

Six Egyptians Killed in Gaza Border Town Bomb

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 16:58
Egypt Kills 7 Jihadists in SinaiSix Egyptian police officers were killed and two others wounded by an explosive planted underground near the Gaza border town of Rafah in the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, in the second such attack in the town in recent weeks.
 
According to an Egyptian security official the bomb was hidden under the asphalt of a highway in an area called Wadi Halfa, reports Al Jazeera.
 
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack bore the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda inspired local terror group. The attack also bears striking similarities to another attack two weeks ago that killed 11 Egyptian soldiers.
 
In that attack it was revealed by a senior security source in the Sinai that the explosive was planted in a tunnel under the main traffic circle of Rafah.
 
The reports about the tunnel in the Gaza border town raised suspicions that the attack was the first instance of a tunnel from Gaza to Sinai being used not for smuggling goods and weapons, but rather to carry out an attack, in what has been termed a "terror tunnel."
 
However, the jihadi group known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has reportedly sworn allegiance to the "Islamic State" (ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack two weeks ago, posting a video showing its preparation and execution as terrorists of the group shouted "Allahu akbar."
 
The Sinai has been a highly unlawful haven for terrorists since tensions between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood spilled over last July 3, when former Prime Minister Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted.
 
There has been a crackdown on the group, with Mohammed Badie, top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, sentenced to life in jail along with 14 others on Monday. The Tuesday attack may possibly be a response to that sentencing.
 
Regarding the Rafah Crossing, there has been talk of Egypt transferring control of the area to Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, an issue that is likely to be raised in continuing ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo this weekend.
 
Last Saturday a commander of the PA presidential guards said a list of PA officers from Gaza has already been prepared for deployment at the Rafah terminal and Philadelphi Corridor between Sinai and Gaza.
 
The officers are waiting for orders from the PA political echelon, and as soon as "orders are given, groups will be sent and reoriented." The troops are to undergo two months of training in Egypt.
 
There has been a large amount of smuggling through the hundreds of tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, which prior to the ceasefire had been effectively limited through an Egyptian siege.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Sentenced to Life in Jail

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 10:50
Mohammad Badie File-ReutersMohammed Badie, top leader of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was sentenced to life in jail along with 14 others Monday on charges of murder and inciting violence during clashes near Cairo last year, Reuters reported.
 
The session had been summoned for witness statements but the judge surprised journalists and others present by issuing a verdict, according to the report.
 
Badie, 71, is among hundreds of Brotherhood members already sentenced to death in mass trials that have drawn criticism from Western governments and human rights groups.
 
The death sentences are subject to appeal.
 
In what is known as the Bahr al-Azam case, Badie and the other defendants were convicted of the murder of five people and the attempted murder of 100 others during violence that broke out in Giza on July 15, 2013.
 
Badie and 182 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were sentenced to death in a mass trial last June over violence that erupted in Minya governorate which led to the killing of a police officer.
 
A court sentenced Badie to life in prison in a separate case in July for inciting violence and blocking a major road north of Cairo during protests that followed Morsi's ouster.
 
He received another life sentence last month, on separate counts of inciting violence in clashes near a mosque in Giza.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A video of him released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.

Egypt to 'Hunt Down' Exiled Brotherhood Leaders

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 21 September 2014 08:57
Egypt to Hunt Down Brotherhood LeadersAn Egyptian official said on Sunday that Cairo will hunt down exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders and seek their arrest, according to The Associated Press (AP).
 
The declaration came a day after Qatar ordered leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and allied clerics to leave country.
 
The tiny Gulf nation's expulsion of the Brotherhood, branded a terrorist organization by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, signals it is moving to mend a diplomatic rift triggered by its support of the group. Analysts described the move as a political victory for Egypt's current leadership.
 
Egypt’s Minister of Interior Mohammed Ibrahim said that Qatari authorities gave Brotherhood leaders one month to leave the country, and reporters for the Doha-based Al-Jazeera Egypt channel two months to leave.
 
A Brotherhood member in Qatar, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his safety, said the Qataris conveyed to them that they were under constant pressure led by Egypt to serve Egyptian arrest warrants for the Islamists. He said he will travel to Malaysia while other members will be travelling to Britain or Turkey, according to AP.
 
Egyptian security and military officials say Qatar agreed to "gradually" expel the group's members and allies. They said that up to 120 people could leave as part of the agreement, including some facing charges of inciting violence in Egypt.
 
The presence of Muslim Brotherhood officials in Qatar had severely strained Doha's relations with Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which view the more than 85-year-old Islamist movement as a threat.
 
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar in June, in protest over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
There have been several high-profile calls to stop Qatar from hosting the World Cup in 2022 until it ceases its funding of terrorism, including by Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
 
Qatar also backs Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt Kills 7 Jihadists in Sinai

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 17:52
egypt jihadistsSeven jihadists were killed in a shootout in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula during a joint operation by police and the army, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said Sunday, according to AFP.
 
The seven men were among "the most dangerous elements of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis" and had taken part in a July attack on a border post with Libya that killed 22 soldiers, he was quoted as having told a news conference.
 
The minister did not give a date for the operation.
 
Based in the northern Sinai, the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has spearheaded attacks that have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
 
It says the attacks are to avenge the killing of pro-Morsi protesters by the army and police, a crackdown which has left at least 1,400 dead.
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Egypt's military-backed interim government has blamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group for the violence, outlawing it and calling it a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the violence.

Sisi: International Coalition Should Not Only Fight IS

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 20 September 2014 17:09
Al SisiEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday that any global coalition against terrorism should battle not just “Islamic State” (IS, formerly ISIS) but other groups as well, Reuters reports.
 
Egyptian security officials have said Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the Sinai-based terrorist group which has killed hundreds of security forces since the army toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year.
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Sisi reportedly told Kerry said any international coalition to combat terrorism "should be comprehensive and not exclusively target a specific organization or eradicate a certain terrorist hotspot", the presidency said in a statement.
 
"Rather, the coalition should extend to encompass combating terrorism wherever it exists in the Middle East and African regions," the statement said, according to Reuters.
 
Sisi also expressed concerns about foreign fighters in IS and the danger they posed to their home countries because of Western passports that can get them through airports undetected.
 
The statement added that Sisi "warned of the repercussions from the involvement of foreign militants in ongoing regional conflicts."
 
Egypt's foreign minister, backing Washington's call for global action to counter the threat, said earlier in a news conference with Kerry that IS terrorists in Iraq and Syria were forging ties with other extremist groups in the region.
 
Groups that share Islamic State's ideology and "take Islam as a cover" must be dealt with, said Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, according to Reuters.
 
Kerry said earlier on Saturday that Egypt “is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai.”
 
Kerry visited Egypt to gain support for a broad coalition of countries to fight IS. He had already secured the backing of 10 Arab governments, including Egypt, alongside Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
 
The U.S. top diplomat, however, has rejected the possibility that Iran would be part of the initiative as well, saying on Friday it would be inappropriate for Iran to attend an upcoming meeting in Paris on how to defeat IS.
 
Last week, it was reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had authorized his army to coordinate joint military operations with the United States against IS in Iraq.
 
The State Department later clarified it has "no plans" for any military coordination with Iran in the fight against IS.

Egypt Charges Morsi With Endangering National Security

Category: News
Created on Friday, 12 September 2014 11:30
Egypts President-elect Mohammed MursiEgypt on Saturday charged ousted president Mohammed Morsi and several other people with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar, Reuters reported.
 
Security sources had said last month that Egypt was investigating the ousted Muslim Brotherhood president in connection with documents they said were leaked to Qatar and its satellite news channel Al Jazeera.
 
The Cairo public prosecutor's office said on Saturday its secret investigation had unearthed enough evidence of espionage to charge Morsi in a criminal court.
 
"The inquiries... exposed humiliating facts and the extent of the largest conspiracy and treason carried out by the terrorist Brotherhood organization against the nation through a network of spies," it said in a lengthy statement quoted by Reuters.
 
The statement said Morsi and two of his top secretaries abused their positions to slip documents from Egypt's security agencies to Qatari intelligence and Al Jazeera.
 
It said some of those documents exposed the location of and weapons held by the Egyptian armed forces and detailed the country's foreign and domestic policies.
 
Morsi is currently on trial in several cases. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
In another trial, Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, has been called "the Muslim Brotherhood channel" and has been blamed for stirring up much of the violence that has rocked the Middle East in recent years and is often referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 
 
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, in protest over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt.

Egypt Investigating Morsi for Handing Over Documents to Qatar

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 28 August 2014 15:24
First day in trialEgypt has opened an investigation into deposed president Mohammed Morsi for allegedly handing over to Qatar "documents relevant to national security," AFP reported on Wednesday, citing Egypt’s state news agency MENA.
 
Morsi is already facing the death penalty in several trials and his supporters have been the target of a bloody crackdown by the authorities that has left more than 1,400 dead since he was ousted by the military in July last year.
 
The former leader is suspected of providing "documents relevant to national security to Qatar via the Qatari Al-Jazeera chain when he was president of the republic (...), damaging the country's national security", said MENA.
 
Morsi is currently on trial in several cases. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
In another trial, Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
Another of Morsi’s trials, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
In March, Egypt's interior minister accused Morsi's secretary Amin El-Serafi of having delivered documents regarding the army, its armaments and the deployment of its troops to a chief editor of Al-Jazeera and member of the Islamist president's Muslim Brotherhood. The movement was listed as a terrorist group after Morsi's overthrow.
 
Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, has been called "the Muslim Brotherhood channel" and has been blamed for stirring up much of the violence that has rocked the Middle East in recent years and is often referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 
 
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, in protest over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt.
 
There have been several high-profile calls to stop Qatar from hosting the World Cup in 2022 until it ceases its funding of terrorism, including by Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

New Group in Cairo Threatens to Carry Out Terror Attacks

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 23 August 2014 12:52
New Terror Group in CairoA video has surfaced of a new terrorist group in Cairo that has threatened to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt.
 
The group, which calls itself the "Helwan Brigades", released a video in which its members are seen holding weapons and saying, "Our message to [the Interior Ministry] is that you are our targets."
 
The clip was posted on the internet on August 16 and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
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“We are fed up with the peacefulness of the Muslim Brotherhood. We are no Muslim Brotherhood. We are fed up with their peaceful demonstrations. When we go on demonstrations, blood is shed, women are raped, and property is stolen,” said one member of the group.
 
“This is a warning to the Interior Ministry in south Cairo. This is what we have throughout south Cairo. Our message to you is that you are our targets because of what you have done to us. You did not spare us. You did not care that we are your brothers. You have shed blood, raped women, and even got the women of Muslims pregnant,” he threatened.
 
“None of you opposed this or was held accountable, because you support a coup. Your army is the Camp David army, which for 60 years [fought] the Muslims, but did not shoot a single bullet at the Jews,” he charged.
 
Egypt has been plagued by unrest and terrorist attacks for several years, and there has been an increase in attacks since the ouster last year of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
Most of the terrorist attacks have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Among the attacks claimed by the group was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Egypt’s government has said there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Clashes in Cairo as Morsi Supporters Riot

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 05:41
Members of the Muslim Brotherhood shout slogans during a protest in CairoThree people were killed in Cairo on Friday as supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi held scattered protests for a second straight day, according to AFP.
 
Clashes erupted at one protest between Morsi supporters and local residents. Two people were killed in the fighting and four police were wounded as they tried to disperse the crowd in the Giza district, according to security officials.
 
At another protest in Giza, demonstrators fired birdshot, set off fireworks and tried to block a road. One protester was killed when police moved in to disperse the group, a statement from the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police said, adding that the man was armed.
 
In a third incident, protesters torched a public bus in a Cairo suburb after forcing the driver and passengers out. Police arrested at least 14 protesters at the events, the security officials told AFP.
 
The violence came one day after the anniversary of the forceful dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, in which hundreds of demonstrators were killed. Clashes at small, scattered demonstrations on Thursday left four people dead, the Health Ministry said.
 
Morsi supporters have held regular demonstrations since the military overthrew him last summer amid massive protests against his year in power. Their numbers, however, have dwindled in the face of a massive crackdown that has seen hundreds of protesters killed in street clashes and tens of thousands detained.
 
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement was listed as a terrorist group after his overthrow last July 3 and many of its leaders, including Morsi himself, have been jailed.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, was sentenced to death on June 19 but the country’s top religious authority rejected the death sentence. He has been asked by a court to reconsider.

Egyptian Army Destroys 13 Hamas Terror Tunnels

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 22:05
tunnels-being-destroyedEgypt's army said Sunday it has destroyed 13 more tunnels connecting the Sinai Peninsula to Gaza, taking to 1,639 the overall number it has laid waste to, according to AFP.
 
In April, an Egyptian court outlawed Hamas, much like it banned the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year, and ordered all of its assets seized.
 
As part of these operations, the army has also been shutting down the smuggling tunnels, which are used to transfer goods, weapons and even terrorists between the Sinai and Gaza.
 
The UN announced last year that Egypt had destroyed as much as 80% of terror tunnels leading from Egyptian soil to Hamas in Gaza, as part of its crackdown on Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood terrorism. 
 
Egypt, meanwhile, has been surprisingly vocal during Israel's own operation to destroy Hamas terror tunnels. 
 
Since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8, Cairo has condemned Israel's ground offensive but it also lashed out at Hamas, saying the Islamist movement could have saved dozens of lives had it accepted Cairo's proposal for a cease-fire early on in the operation.

Egypt’s “cold war” with the U.S

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 24 July 2014 14:22
Kerry: Egypt  security searchAn unusual security search at the entrance of the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo took place two days ago as reported by Egyptian newspapers and the Italian RAI 24 news. John Kerry and his staff were asked to go through a metal detector, and one staff member was asked to show the contents of his pockets before visiting President Al-Sisi. This humiliating reversal of protocol was a sign of mistrust towards the U.S. by an Egypt never shy about expressing hostility for America’s support of the Morsi regime. Kerry’s visit to Egypt was for the purpose of brokering peace between Israel and Gaza (the Hamas terrorist organization).   
However, was President Al-Sisi merely reflecting the animosity of the Egyptian people towards the Obama administration and posturing to score points with Egyptians? Or was Al-Sisi’s motive to emphasize Egypt’s sovereignty to an Obama administration for America’s egregious error in backing the former terrorist-backed president, Morsi -- not standing for and with the Egyptian pro-democracy majority? Al-Sisi’s coldness counters a U.S. State Department unwilling to let go of America’s glaringly wrong position. Western media’s “military-coup general” is turning out to be Egypt’s best prospect for human rights and democratic ideals up to this point. 
 
Egyptian pro-democracy freedom fighters who backed Al-Sisi for president, have been icy and caustic towards the U.S. since lobbing tomatoes at Hilary back when she visited Egypt in support of the Muslim Brotherhood “freedom-fighters.” That was the moment the Western media reversed the facts in Egypt’s revolution saga. Referring to the MB as freedom-seekers, this “fact” became the premise underlying all reports to date.   
 
After three and a half years (with two interim governments and two elected presidents) and the brutality of the Morsi MB-backed regime gone, the U.S. and the Western media stick to their narrative that characterizes the current populace president, Al-Sisi, as undesirable. But according to ordinary Egyptians yearning for a better economy and the freedoms and rights of Western democracy, President Al-Sisi is their only option. So far, only the Muslim Brotherhood and its sympathizers are afraid of Al-Sisi. Looking back to day one of Morsi’s presidency, Egyptians had only suspicion at first followed by contempt then dread. The populace was cowed; whereas today’s Egyptians have relevance and strength. 
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While Kerry and his staff came under scrutiny during security measures at the presidential palace, the Arabic Al Hayat news was reporting that President Al-Sisi declined President Obama’s invitation to participate in the African summit next week in the U.S.  Egypt had not been invited to the earlier African summit held on its own continent this year at a time when Egypt’s interim government held power upon the fall of the Morsi regime. The U.S. sponsors overlooked Egypt for this important summit held in Egypt’s backyard when the ignoring of anti-Morsi, anti-Brotherhood leaders was of key importance to the U.S. administration on behalf of the corrupted Morsi regime.

President Sisi Defends Egypt's Role in Israel-Gaza Conflict

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 11:28
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -ReutersEgyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday defended his country's role in trying to broker a Gaza truce between Israel and Hamas, which accuses him of proposing a ceasefire favorable to Israel.  
 
Unlike his Islamist predecessor Mohammed Morsi whom he toppled and detained last year, ex-army chief Sisi has sought to isolate the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned terrorist movement in the neighboring Gaza Strip.  
 
The Cairo government worked to contain the crisis even before it escalated into a full-blown conflict on July 8, after Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to end rocket fire on its cities, Sisi said.
 
"Egypt has sacrificed, for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians, 100,000 martyrs," he said in a televised address, referring to casualties in Egypt's wars with Israel between 1948 and 1973, before Cairo signed a 1979 peace treaty.  
 
"So it is difficult for anyone to engage in one-upmanship, not just regarding (our role) with the Palestinian brothers but also the Arab region," he said in a speech to mark the 1952 military overthrow of the monarchy in Egypt.
 
Since Morsi's overthrow in July 2013, Egypt has been at odds with Turkey and Qatar, both Islamist-run governments which back his Muslim Brotherhood and have been critical of Sisi's stand on the Gaza conflict.  
 
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Sisi a "tyrant" who could not be trusted to mediate a truce, while Hamas demands a role for Ankara and Doha, which hosts its political leadership, in any truce negotiations.
 
Morsi mediated a truce to end an eight-day conflict with Israel in 2012 that Hamas was able to represent as a "victory".  
 
Sisi said his truce proposal would give Hamas its key demand of an end to the eight-year blockade of Gaza once calm is restored.
 
"What we want is that simple citizens in the Gaza Strip not be subjected to what they are going through now," he said of the proposal, which demands a ceasefire before talks. 
 
Hamas, however, insists on a comprehensive agreement before it agrees to a ceasefire.
 
It also demands Egypt open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, the only passage to the coastal enclave not controlled by Israel, and has leveled a score of more outlandish demands, including large-scale releases of terrorists jailed in Israel, the establishment of an airport in Gaza and more.
 
Hamas argues that Egypt's proposal, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and Arab League, would allow Israel to dictate if and when to ease its blockade on Gaza.

A blow to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as Israel crushes Hamas

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 09:39
IDFA few weeks ago shocking news arrived from Israel regarding the kidnapping of three young men. As news first circulated around the world, Israelis braced for the worst and prayed prayers for the safe delivery of the Israeli captives. How would this menacing action unfold for the victims and the country? Finally, we learned of their murders and the arrest of two Arab-Muslim suspects with links to Hamas. This horrific act of aggression against three Jews was committed in the first days of the Islamic month known as “blessed” Ramadan when fighting is forbidden. 
 
The ninth month of the Islamic Hegira calendar is set aside for believers to honor the revelation received by the 7th century prophet. Muslims must be dedicated to fasting, prayer, and charity to the poor. Most importantly, aggression by and against Muslims must cease. Disturbances by outsiders during this calendar month trigger Muslim sensitivities and heighten intolerance. Making this calculation, Hamas attacked Israel in this timeframe knowing it would enhance sentiment. Israel’s retaliation would always be viewed as sacrilegious securing world opinion in favor of Gaza terrorists where empathy is already heavily weighted. Hamas and Gazans remain in the more positive light despite their instigating acts provoking war in the month of Ramadan. 
 
About a week after the kidnappings, Kalid Mashaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, boasted and blessed the kidnappers publicly with a bold announcement on Al Jazeera TV denying the involvement of Hamas.  Another Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, already anticipating Israel’s counter-attack for the murders that had not yet been discovered (and Hamas rocket fire) appealed to the sympathy of the Egyptian people regarding Hamas’ “victimization,” stressing the importance of the remaining open tunnels between Egypt’s Sinai and the Gaza Strip -- ones that Al-Sisi has yet to dynamite shut in his commitment to destroy all illegal passages. Food and weaponry was now in demand by Gazans who needed Egypt to smuggle such provisions through the tunnels, indicated Haniyeh.   
 
Experts in Middle East conflict expected to see a demand on Israel to liberate particular terrorists as a ransom for the kidnapped boys. Such exchanges have been typical of the past. But why not this time? The answer: Hamas wanted to entice Egypt into warfare with Israel in order to help the Muslim Brotherhood regain power in Egypt. Hamas had a broader agenda for the kidnappings, murders, and rocket fire into Israel. Its aggression stirred up pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas opinion by Egypt’s politicians, journalists and media in order to put pressure on Al-Sisi’s new government to help the “oppressed” Gazans. But Al-Sisi ignored the call to militarily aid Hamas deciding not to break Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. 
Hamas intended Egypt to comply with its request. It was meant to be a distraction for Al-Sisi to interrupt his strenuous battle against the Muslim Brotherhood – the beginning of the long-awaited reversal of the damage being done to organized terror inside Egypt. Hamas’ ploy aimed to release Egypt’s MB of Al-Sisi’s grip availing it the time and space necessary to reenergize and regain power. But not only have the hopes of Hamas been dashed regarding its capacity to bait the religious issue and persuade Egypt’s Islamic leaders, but it wrongly predicted Egyptian sentiment mounting negative toward the existence of Hamas’ and its motives. The majority of the Egyptian public is attentive to Israel’s counter-attacks on Gaza with an unprecedented enthusiasm to see Hamas and its terror obliterated. 
 
Meanwhile, the Egyptian military will likely provide humanitarian assistance directly to Gazan civilians. This will bypass the finger pointing and embarrassment certain to come Al-Sisi’s way from the Egyptian Arab-Muslim community and the broader Islamic spectrum if Egypt were to take no action at all. Hamas presents a dilemma for Al-Sisi. Hamas’ terrorism against Israel carries with it the obligation for Muslim entities anywhere in the world to reach out on behalf of Hamas for the sake of Islamic doctrinal hate against Jews, a bond often underestimated by the West.  
 
Another motive of Hamas regards the U.S. and its allies. The White House will discern from Hamas violence and war on Israel, embarrassing as it is to the “peace process” conducted by the U.S. administration, that it is a direct consequence of Egypt’s MB collapse. No setback for the MB will be tolerated. After all, when Morsi was top dog, there was even talk of giving Hamas the northern third of Sinai to call its own. Back in the day, not that long ago, Hamas was of the ruling power and benefits were accruing -- some even say with the blessing of the White House. The game has changed in Egypt, and Hamas attacks Israel driving home this point.       
 
Across the Middle East, a dethroned MB struggles to recapture its glory in places like Iraq, Syria, and Libya. The people of these lands are fed-up with the results of the Arab Spring revolts that delivered MB rule to replace horrible dictatorships. Proxies for the MB (Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Ansar el Islam, et al), militant anti-occupation factions in Gaza forging “victimhood” stories for the world through their aggression towards Israel, fashion and enflame a crisis to bargain for a toppled MB. 
 
When all other direct means to rescue the Egyptian MB to date has been unsuccessful, their message is as if to say, “We will keep the heat turned up for Israel until the road is paved in Egypt to secure the return of power to the MB.” But Egypt, the birthplace of world terror, is steeled in battle to restrain and dissolve the MB -- Hamas’ latest aggression a test of Egypt’s resolve. Meanwhile, Israel demonstrates that Hamas will no longer play their game of extortion with the world at Israel’s expense.

Egyptian Cleric: Hamas Conspiring Against the Palestinian People

Category: News
Created on Monday, 21 July 2014 18:09
Hamas terrorists parade rocketA prominent Salafi Islamist cleric in Egypt has called on Egyptians not to support Hamas in its war against Israel, accusing the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned terrorist group of being part of a joint Shia-communist plot to harm the "Palestinian people".
 
While reminding viewers that "driving the Jews out of Palestine is, indeed, a duty", cleric Talaat Zahran said that Egyptians should not mobilize to support Hamas as most Gazans were "Shias and communists", and because Hamas's rocket attacks were in fact part of a plan to provoke Egypt and Israel into a war which would only serve the interests of Shia powers (referring to Iran), at the expense of Egypt's national interest.
 
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In the televised address, translated by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), he also condemned the use of human shields by Hamas's leadership, accusing them of working with Israel to "pulverize" the Gaza's civilian population.
 
Despite anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment being widespread throughout Egypt, for opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood - including secularist and Salafi-Islamist supporters of the Sisi government - that sentiment is eclipsed by their antipathy towards the Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch, Hamas, which they accuse of being part of a conspiracy to take over Egypt.
 
Many prominent Egyptian pundits and commentators have also urged Egyptians not to support Hamas, with one going so far as to say that Egypt should be helping to fight them.

Hamas Inches Closer to Cease-Fire with Egypt Invitation

Category: News
Created on Monday, 21 July 2014 15:39
Fatahs Al-Aqsa Martyrs BrigadeHamas has received an "invitation" for cease-fire talks in Cairo on Sunday, the terror group announced, and would consider participating in the Egypt-brokered initiative - under certain conditions. 
 
Hamas "received an invitation, through mediators, for a delegation headed by (chief-in-exile) Khaled Meshaal to visit Cairo and discuss the Egyptian initiative," it said in a statement.
 
It said the Islamist movement's "response was that its position on the initiative is known, but it is at the same time ready to cooperate with a move by any party that will achieve the specific Palestinian demands."
 
An Egyptian foreign ministry official said he could not confirm or deny the new invitation.
 
Hamas categorically rejected attempts for a cease-fire on multiple occasions in the thirteen days since Operation Protective Edge began, insisting that the terms of the agreement 'did not apply' to them and taking issue with the Egyptian mediators at the heart of international peace efforts. 
 
Later, Hamas officials reportedly set a series of unprecedented demands on Israel to accompany a ten-year truce - before threatening Israelis if the government refused to accept. 
 
Mashaal, as well as Hamas, have openly encouraged escalation this week, declaring that Israel is "doomed to fail." 
 
And on Thursday, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza stated that "Israel will pay a high price" for launching the ground operation and that Hamas "is ready for the confrontation."
 
"With this action the Israeli government seeks to restore the morale of its soldiers and the morale of its army leadership - a leadership that is collapsing because of the qualitative blows of the resistance,” the spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, claimed.
 
Egypt: friend or foe?
 
Egypt, under recently-elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has moved to isolate Hamas, accusing it of backing the Muslim Brotherhood on its own territory. 
 
Egypt's foreign ministry has condemned Israel's ground offensive but it also lashed out at Hamas, saying the Islamist movement could have saved dozens of lives had it accepted Cairo's proposal.
 
According to Kol Yisrael radio, the Egyptian government said it was placing the responsibility on Hamas for “the possible deaths of Palestinian civilians”, citing Hamas’s refusal to accept Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire.
 
The report quoted Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, as having said that had Hamas accepted the ceasefire proposal, it would have saved the lives of at least 40 Gazans who were killed in Israeli airstrikes.
 
Shoukry further said that Hamas was cooperating with Qatar and Turkey to harm Egypt’s status in the region.
 
Shoukry’s comments on Hamas echo those made earlier by Egypt’s former Foreign Minister, Mohammed Al-Arabi, who said that Hamas was not serious about a ceasefire – and that the terror group was deliberately trying to embarrass Egypt.
 
Speaking in an interview in an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Arabi blamed Hamas for not only failing to come to a ceasefire, but for “shedding the blood of innocent Palestinians” by continuing to attack Israel.
 
Palestinian Arab push
 
Tensions between Egypt and Hamas may have been pushed aside, however, by the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s encouragement for Hamas to take the cease-fire deal - citing, among other things, the specific desire to hurt Israel
 
"Israel accepted the ceasefire proposal. We (the Palestinians) must also accept it so that we can put the Israeli side at unease," Abbas told a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Istanbul in comments translated from Arabic into Turkish.
 
A senior official in the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the group behind Abbas's Fatah party, said in an interview on official PA television that Ramallah has recognized - and legitimized - Hamas's unprecedented demands. 
 
"These are also our demands," Yasser Abed Rabbo said. "If Gaza is broken, all Palestinians will be broken."
 
Abbas and Mashaal are meeting in Qatar Sunday to discuss a possible cease-fire deal. 

Egypt's Al-Sisi struggles for democracy: Fights terrorism

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Friday, 18 July 2014 15:57
Fights terrorismSome would say Egypt now leads the world in the war against terror, and Egyptians are relieved to see punishment for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood backers. Concerned with Egypt’s “overall stability” during his June visit to Cairo, John Kerry cautioned President Al-Sisi about the recent death sentences for MB members (theguardian.com, June 22), emphasizing tactical errors in the political environment. State Department officials are concerned by Al-Sisi’s “polarizing” tactics and seem to imply that getting on with the business of democracy has nothing to do with cleaning corruption and hunting down jihadists. If Al-Sisi manages to convert an Islamic state to anywhere near the full experience of human rights and equality it would be a first in this part of the world, and it would require beginning with the hardline he has now taken. 
 
Before Kerry stresses Egypt’s need for the greater political freedoms he might remind himself of the humanitarian guidelines found in the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights -- the document signed by Egypt when it refused to sign the rigorous U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- under which Egypt functions. Democracy won’t materialize overnight especially in the Islamic Middle East where nothing is what it seems and nothing goes in a straight line. Where there is no precedent on how to reverse six decades of Islamist buildup that culminated with rule by jihadists, Al-Sisi is on his own, so to speak. 
 
Ultimately America understands this while it endorses him. The U.S. has handed over the check. Coldness between the U.S. and Egypt – Al-Sisi refused to receive Obama’s phone call after Morsi was removed, U.S. froze aid, the Secretary of State did not attend Al-Sisi’s inauguration – spares Egypt any more U.S. delegations brandishing the moral high ground regarding Egypt’s death penalty for former government henchmen (MB spiritual guide, deputy of MB, former MB prime minister, former MB cultural minister) and savage street gangs – fierce and unsavory agents of the street. 
No one can predict what Al-Sisi will eventually do or become for the democratic effort, but identifying and ridding the country of terror cells as a priority is important. It is viewed as the first step in achieving human rights. No former Egyptian president has genuinely turned against the MB because each was affiliated with the organization in one way or another. As a consequence, the MB was confined to dark dungeons where it produced the treatises for the extended terror enterprises the world endures today. 
If Al-Sisi is truly detached from this network, which he seems to be, he will use his power and knowledge as former head of military secret service to eradicate hardcore cells that paralyze progress – no small matter. MB members and sympathizers make up 20 percent of Egypt’s population. The non-violent Christian Copts make up another 20 percent of Egypt and are the Brotherhood’s strongest ideological opposition. Copts are eager to see the end of Islamic religious governance in general. Along with their Muslim neighbors, Copts have naturally welcomed the collapse of the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood terror reign. But will Coptic clergy, subjected to centuries of religious overlords, begin to understand what it means to have separation of church and state in order to have freedom of religion? 
 
Coptic Bishop of General Services, Bishop Ioannais, emphasized in a recent web site interview that church leadership must govern all of life’s decisions. To paraphrase him, the bishop pointed toward the church establishment as the only “identity” necessary for citizenship (copts-united.com, July 6). In these remarks, Bishop Ioannais, who was nominated by Pope Shenuda and ran interference through church channels to calm the streets in Egypt and in the American diaspora when Mubarak or government officials paid visits to America, specifies that the church is to be the sole political representation of its adherents. 
 
Back in the fall of 2010, Coptic youths revolted against the regime as well as the control of the church to finally spark Egypt’s uprising which formed the freedom movement of January 2011. Such statements coming from the bishop clash with the will of the majority of Egyptians who are fighting to have a democratic state without control from the mosque or the church. The bishop’s regressive notion appears absurd in the current climate. It is also very dangerous to the stability of the country, potentially creating rivalries between religious authorities. This rivalry and the supremacy of Islam is flourishing in the religious agenda-driven courts of Egypt’s Arab republic.
Over the past two weeks during Al-Sisi’s first month in office, the courts delivered guilty verdicts in three separate cases for three individuals who blasphemed Islam. Today, brainwashed Islamic judges reinforce the status quo of Sadat’s and Mubarak’s Egypt: a Muslim of the 2011 pro-democracy movement converts to Christianity, a Christian schoolteacher allegedly teaches fourth graders that Buddha was greater than Mohammed, and a Christian in his late twenties “likes” a Facebook page critical of Islam – each sentenced to jail for five years, three years, and six months respectively. 
 
This is normal. This represents what the Al-Sisi government must tackle to satisfy his liberal constituency. Still, impatient (and perhaps fearful) Egyptians react hastily, pointing out that these verdicts are already the fault of the new president due to ideology or ineptitude. If Al-Sisi’s attempts at modern reforms water down and his Egypt becomes like Mubarak’s, tying today’s court decisions to Al-Sisi will be seen in retrospect as accurate for either reason. 
 
It is important for Egyptian democracy-seekers to scrutinize Al-Sisi’s every move. Certain actions and inactions should cause alarm but others not. For instance, a red flag should go up if the Salafists’ Al Noor party has not been disbanded within three months of Al Sisi’s installation. Or worse yet, if the illegal Al Noor party is allowed to hold seats in the new parliament. This would not represent pluralism as Western media will surely tout but indicate something very wrong with Al-Sisi who made certain promises to the secular liberals who in turn urged him to power. The Al Noor party is a fringe element representative of the ideology underpinning Egypt’s terror network.  
However, it could be taken as a good sign if Al-Sisi draws out the time needed to prepare the country’s parliamentary elections from the 90 days mandated by the constitution to six months or one year.  Based on what is known about Al-Sisi from past efforts, this could indicate that he continues to clean corruption for preparing new outcomes. 
 
Furthermore, if Al-Sisi proves to be a trustworthy, tireless fighter for the people on the level he has so far, Egyptians will be more than willing to endure Al-Sisi’s recent economic decision. He has removed government subsidies from the daily Ciabatta bread, milk and gasoline and other basic provisions – skyrocketing prices -- requiring more sacrifice from a bankrupt people to move the entire country forward. More than ten days of inflated prices so far have not riled the people to the streets in protest as three days into the same “free trade” attempt ordered by Sadat did in 1977. It’s been suggested that Egyptians now collectively understand (fear) that one false move in the streets could risk a takeover once again by the MB.

Egypt Blames Hamas for Escalation in Gaza

Category: News
Created on Friday, 18 July 2014 08:58
Israel -Gaza Ground AssaultAs Israel launched a ground operation in Gaza on Thursday, Egypt blamed Hamas - but also Israel - for the latest escalation and for the deaths of civilians.
 
According to Kol Yisrael radio, the Egyptian government said it was placing the responsibility on Hamas for “the possible deaths of Palestinian civilians”, citing Hamas’s refusal to accept Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire.
 
The report quoted Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, as having said that had Hamas accepted the ceasefire proposal, it would have saved the lives of at least 40 Gazans who were killed in Israeli airstrikes.
 
Shoukry further said that Hamas was cooperating with Qatar and Turkey to harm Egypt’s status in the region.
 
In a statement quoted by the AFP news agency, however, Egypt's foreign ministry also denounced Israel's "escalation" in Gaza and again demanded both sides accept a Cairo proposed truce.
 
"Egypt condemns the Israeli escalation in Gaza and calls for self-control as its air strikes and ground operation only aggravate the situation and do not help preserve Israel's security," the foreign ministry said.
 
It said both Israel and Hamas must "immediately and unconditionally accept the Egyptian (ceasefire) proposal as it offers protection to the Palestinian people. It is the only way to halt the aggression and preserve the blood of our brotherly Palestinian people."
 
Shoukry’s comments on Hamas echo those made earlier by Egypt’s former Foreign Minister, Mohammed Al-Arabi, who said that Hamas was not serious about a ceasefire – and that the terror group was deliberately trying to embarrass Egypt.
 
Speaking in an interview in an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Arabi blamed Hamas for not only failing to come to a ceasefire, but for “shedding the blood of innocent Palestinians” by continuing to attack Israel.
 
Israel launched a ground attack on Gaza Thursday night, as large forces from the IDF's infantry, armor, artillery, engineering and intelligence corps began operating in several zones within Gaza.
 
The zones are in Gaza's northern, central and southern sections. The Diplomacy and Security Cabinet has authorized the IDF to widen the operation further at its discretion.

Egyptian TV Hosts 'Sick and Tired' of Hamas

Category: Media
Created on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 09:16
Hamas fighters hold picture of Mohammed MorsiIt is no secret that the Egyptian government has been taking some pleasure in watching events unfold in the Gaza Strip.
 
After the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi, and the subsequent insurgency campaign by his Islamist supporters, the Brotherhood was declared public enemy number one and blacklisted as a terrorist group amid a bloody crackdown. It's "Palestinian branch", Hamas, was accused of cooperating with insurgents and terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula, and first the interim military administration, and then the government of President Sisi, tightened the screws on Hamas specifically. Cairo imposed a blockade even more rigorous than that imposed by Israel, and destroyed many of the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, which were a vital source of weapons and finance for Hamas.
 
In doing so, the Egyptian military was reflecting the views of many Egyptians who, while still hostile towards Israel, saw in the rise of Islamism a mortal enemy far more dangerous than the dreaded "Zionists".
 
But while Sisi's administration has remained notably silent during Operation Protective Edge, limiting itself to bland statements calling on "both sides" to show "restraint", that enmity has bubbled to the surface of Egyptian TV - which, it should be noted, is state-controlled.
 
And in a collage of segments from Egyptian television translated by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), a variety of animated anchors share some choice words about Hamas with their viewers.
 
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Perhaps the most prominent theme is summed up by talk show host Mazhar Shahin, who begins his anti-Hamas tirade by drawing a line between supporting "the Palestinians" and supporting Hamas.
 
"Just like we died in the past in defense of the Palestinian cause, we are ready to die today in defense of the Palestinian cause - but we are not ready to die in defense of Hamas," he declared, going on to say that the Egyptian people "are not prepared to sacrifice even a single hair from the eyebrow" for the Islamist group.
 
Other hosts echoed those sentiments, and goaded Hamas and other Palestinian Islamist leaders who encourage young Arabs to die for the sake of "jihad", but who themselves live in luxury away from the front lines.
 
Mohamed Moustafa Sherdi took the opportunity to attack Hamas for its smuggling tunnel network, which he said was built to "smuggle all of Egypt's wealth" into Gaza.
 
Talk show host Ahmad Mousa took an even more openly mocking tone, pointing out that despite its bravado Hamas had not managed to inflict major losses on Israel, and making fun of the lifestyle and expanding waistline of Hamas "prime minister" Ismail Haniye.
 
He also joined other Arab commentators in questioning Hamas's use of human shields.
 
"Why do you, the Al Qassam Brigades [Hamas's military wing - ed.], hide among civilians?" Mousa asked.
 
"Why do you use people's homes? You should keep your hideouts away from people's homes. you know full well that when you launch a missile from a home, a [Israeli] missile will land on that home within one minute. 

8 Dead in Mortar Attack in Egypt's Sinai

Category: News
Created on Monday, 14 July 2014 09:04
egypt clashesA mortar attack in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed at least eight people on Sunday night, according to The Associated Press (AP).
 
According to the report, the mortar rounds were fired at a military post in the provincial capital of el-Arish, killing a soldier as well as seven civilians, including a child.
 
The military post is located near a compound of residential buildings in the al-Salam district. The main security headquarters and the local government offices are also located in the same area.
 
AN official , who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a supermarket, pharmacy and a residential building were hit by the mortar fire.
 
Samy Anwar, the head of el-Arish hospital, said seven civilians were killed in the attack, including a 10-year old girl. He said 25 others were wounded.
 
Terrorist attacks in the Sinai have been a problem for Egypt since the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak, and have only gotten worse since Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted as well a year ago.
 
Most of the terrorist attacks have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
 
The group  has claimed responsibility for a slew of terror attacks in Egypt since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Among the attacks claimed by the group was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
The group has also claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks that targeted the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
On Friday, the group published a video allegedly documenting the launching of five 107 mm rockets at Israel.
 
The launch took place in the Sinai peninsula, south of the Egyptian city of Rafah. The rockets were apparently fired on Wednesday, and were aimed at an Israeli community in the Negev desert.

Egyptian Broadcaster: We Should Help Fight Hamas

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 13 July 2014 18:41

Morsi shakes hands with Haniyeh  RutersThere's no love lost between the new government of Egypt and Hamas, with the former rejecting the latter over Hamas' support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the arch-enemy of newly-elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-army chief who toppled the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi last year. So far, Egypt has largely stayed out of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, offering little more than platitudes on the importance of calm, and half-heartedly suggesting itself as a broker for a cease-fire.

But if the Egyptian government is willing to go through the motions, many Egyptians are not. Angry over the Islamic repression the Brotherhood tried to impose on the secular middle class, and furious over the deaths of Egyptian soldiers and police at the hands of Brotherhood terrorists who flocked to Sinai last year, Hamas has faced a major backlash in public opinion, to the extent that many Egyptians are "rooting" for Israel to finish off Hamas.

Among those siding with Israel is the hostess of one of Egypt's most popular television programs, "Egypt Today." On Sunday, Hiya Aldardiri said that "the Egyptian people understand very well who is set against them, and they understand that Egypt has no choice but to set its forces against the terrorists in Gaza."

Aldardiri listed a number of terror attacks conducted by Hamas and its Brotherhood affiliates against Egyptians. In 2013, the Egyptian government designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, one day after a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others.

"As Egyptians, we will never forget the day Hamas hurt the honor of Egypt when it sent its militias to take over the Mansoura building and killed Egyptians," Aldardiri said. "They also killed Egyptians in Tahrir Square" when the Egyptian Army attempted to stem the Muslim Brotherhood's excesses.

"We blame Hamas for everything that happened in the Muslim Brotherhood revolution, whose purpose was to cause the fall of Egypt," she added.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Given Life Sentence

Category: News
Created on Monday, 07 July 2014 17:07
Mohammed Badie0Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 36 other supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi got life sentences Saturday in Cairo, CNN reported.
 
The defendants are accused of inciting violence.
 
An additional 10 defendants sentenced to death in June have had their sentences upheld by Egypt's Grand Mufti, who, by law, must review capital punishment decisions.
 
This is the second sentence handed down to Badie, who was found guilty and sentenced to death in April. He was also given a second death sentence in late June over violence that killed 10 people in Cairo last summer.
 
Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, hundreds of his supporters and Badie himself have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that have sparked international outrage.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, his supporters have staged regular protests calling for his reinstatement, rallies that have often degenerated into street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.
 
A crackdown on Morsi supporters has left more than 1,400 people dead in street clashes and at least 15,000 jailed.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A recently released video of him shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.

Egypt: Train Bomb Blast Kills 5 as Islamists Riot

Category: News
Created on Monday, 07 July 2014 15:42
Train Bomb Blast - Islamists RiotA bomb blast in a train in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Thursday wounded five people, security officials said, according to AFP.
 
According to the report, the bomb, which was hidden in a briefcase near a passenger seat, exploded inside a train compartment.
 
The attack as Egyptian police swiftly quashed Islamist protests marking the first anniversary of the military ouster of president Mohammed Morsi, firing tear gas and arresting dozens of demonstrators.
 
The protests were seen as a test of the Islamists' strength, with the Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti Coup Alliance having issued an aggressive rallying cry demanding a "day of anger" to mark Morsi's overthrow.
 
Police closed off several main squares in Cairo and scoured neighborhoods to head off protests, AFP reported.
 
In Cairo's Ain Shams district, black-clad riot policemen fired tear gas and shotguns to disperse a few dozen protesters who burned tires on a road.
 
Police also dispersed other protesters elsewhere in the capital, security officials told AFP.
 
39 wanted activists were arrested ahead of Thursday's protests, and 157 allegedly illegal demonstrators were detained during the day, the interior ministry said.
 
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement was listed as a terrorist group after his overthrow last July 3 and many of its leaders, including Morsi himself, have been jailed.
 
The ex-army chief who toppled him, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has since replaced him as Egypt's elected president.
 
Security forces were also on high alert Thursday for further bombings, days after two senior policemen were killed when devices they were defusing outside the presidential palace exploded.
 
Since Morsi's ouster after a turbulent year in power, at least 1,400 people, mostly his Islamist supporters, have been killed in street clashes and more than 15,000 have been imprisoned.
 
Despite the crackdown, the Islamists have insisted on continuing their protests with the aim, they say, of making Egypt ungovernable for Sisi

Egypt: Second Christian Jailed for 'Insulting Islam'

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 29 June 2014 20:12
Kerolos Shouky Attallah 29 of Al-Mahamid villageAn Egyptian court has sentenced a Coptic Christian man to six years in jail for "insulting Islam" and stirring up sectarian strife in his village, his lawyer told AFP on Wednesday.
 
Egypt's constitution outlaws insults against the three monotheist religions recognized by the state - Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
 
Kirollos Shawki, 29, was convicted Tuesday by a court in the southern province of Luxor, Mohamed Ahmed Abdelaal told AFP.  
 
He handed himself in to police at the end of May after tension flared between Christians and Muslims in his village in Luxor, because he posted a picture of Muslim prophet Mohammed with an insulting comment on his Facebook page, Abdelaal said.
 
But a police official said the man was arrested along with six others who had hurled stones at his house after he posted the picture, and that the six were later released.
 
Islam forbids the depiction of God or Mohammed.  
 
The court sentenced him to three years for "contempt of religion" and another three years for "stirring up sectarian strife," Abdelaal added.
 
The man has appealed the verdict and should be freed on bail until an appeals court rules, his lawyer said.
 
Copts, who comprise some 10 percent of the country's 86-million population, are the Middle East's largest religious minority. They have long suffered sectarian violence at the hands of Muslim extremists, including attacks on churches.
 
Earlier this month, an appeals court in Luxor sentenced a female Coptic teacher to six months in jail after parents of her students accused her of "evangelizing" and insulting Islam.
 
Parents had filed a complaint alleging that she had told her students that late Coptic pope, Shenouda III, was better than the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Kerry Visits Egypt, Urges Sisi to Allow Political Reforms

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 June 2014 22:25
John-Kerry-a Muslim Brotherhood in EgyptU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday visited Cairo, becoming the highest-ranking American official to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since he came to power earlier this month.
 
According to AFP, Kerry pressed Egypt's leaders to allow greater political freedoms, as Washington unlocked some $572 million in military aid for Cairo and hurried the dispatch of 10 Apache helicopters.
 
Kerry told a press conference he had emphasized in his "candid" talks with Sisi that the new government must uphold "the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians."
 
"We also discussed the essential role of a vibrant civil society, free press, rule of law and due process in a democracy," said Kerry, according to AFP.
 
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His call for a free press in Egypt comes as a court on Monday is due to deliver its ruling in the trial of three Al-Jazeera journalists and 17 other co-defendants, accused of aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
 
Their trial, in which the three journalists are accused of "spreading false news" and links to the Brotherhood, has sparked an international outcry as rights activists fear Egypt could return to autocracy worse than under Mubarak.
 
"Obviously this is a critical moment of transition in Egypt," Kerry said earlier as he met new Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri.
 
But he stressed "the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed."
 
"There is no question that Egyptian society is stronger when all of its citizens have a say and a stake in its success,” said Kerry.
 
Since Egypt's first freely elected leader Morsi was toppled by Sisi in July 2013, a government crackdown on his supporters has left more than 1,400 people dead in street clashes and at least 15,000 jailed.
 
Meanwhile, American officials revealed that $572 million in aid, which had been frozen since October, was released to Egypt about 10 days ago after a green light from Congress. It will mainly go to pay existing defense contracts.
 
Washington said in April it planned to resume some of the annual $1.5 billion in mostly military aid to Cairo, including 10 Apache helicopter gunships for counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
"The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," Kerry said minutes before he left Cairo and flew to Amman for further consultations on Iraq.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Given Another Death Sentence

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 17:49
Egypt Muslim Brotherhood headAn Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie and 13 others to death over violence that killed 10 people in Cairo last summer, AFP reports.
 
Since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, hundreds of his supporters and Badie himself have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that have sparked international outrage.
 
The court is due to meet again on August 3 to give a final ruling, according to AFP.
 
Death sentences in Egypt are referred to the country's top Islamic scholar for an advisory opinion before being ratified and courts may commute sentences, which can later be challenged in an appeals court.
 
Other defendants include Mohamed al-Beltagui and Essam al-Erian, top leaders from Morsi's Brotherhood, as well as Gamaa Islamiya chief Assem Abdel Maged and well-known preacher Safwat Hegazy.
 
They were convicted of inciting violence that killed 10 people near Al-Istiqama's mosque in the Giza neighborhood, days after Morsi's July 3 ouster.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, his supporters have staged regular protests calling for his reinstatement, rallies that have often degenerated into street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.
 
A crackdown on Morsi supporters has left more than 1,400 people dead in street clashes and at least 15,000 jailed.
 
Thursday’s verdict marks the second time that Badie has been given a death sentence. In April, a court in the central city of Minya sentenced Badie, who is being tried in some 40 cases, and around 700 others to death over the murder and attempted murder of policemen. A final ruling is expected on June 21.
 
The same court in March handed down the same sentence for 529 alleged Morsi supporters on similar charges. The judge subsequently upheld only 37 of those sentenced and commuted the rest to life in prison.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule. A recently released video of him shows him telling the court that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.
 
“We have fought only against the Jews, and Kamel Al-Sharif may testify about the conduct of the Muslim Brotherhood in the [1948] war in Palestine. We fought against the Jews. The Israeli strategic research institute wrote in a report: ‘Our greatest enemies in the world are the Muslim Brotherhood.’ This is an honor for us, yet now we are being accused of conspiring with Hamas against the Egyptian people. This is an absolute lie,” he said.

Egypt’s courageous new president: Promise for a modern Egypt

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 23 June 2014 15:12
Egypts newly sworn-in president apologized in person to a woman who was sexually assaultedAs the live airwaves of Egypt’s state TV deliver the Al Ahzar lectures cautioning against apostasy and Atheism to all those carrying state-issued I.D. cards indicating Egypt’s official religion, Egypt’s newly installed president, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, foregoes public prayers and mosque attendance as the first modern leader ever to skip over this tradition within his initial days of office. Since the uprising of January 2011 against former President Mubarak -- propelled by a platform of human rights, equal rights, secularism and religious freedom which in turn brought down Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi -- ¬¬more and more Egyptians have fled Islam by quietly claiming Atheism and enduring the harassment that comes with it. 
 
Likewise, those converting to Christianity proclaim Atheism in order to avoid death threats. Now however, unlike earlier times, Muslims are apt to keep their Islamic birth names rather than switch to Christian ones like David or Maria. Rejecting the practice of matching one’s name to one’s religion is seen as bold and dangerous -- introducing Christianity into personal circles. But it is consistent with the outcome of the recent presidential election hoped and seen by some as a potentially fierce challenge to the theocratic state. Generally, the name-religion change means that the very personal matter of spiritual belief and departure from Islam and the mosque must remain on the sly to avoid the treachery embodied in religious juridical law. 
 
President Al-Sisi was installed this month on June 8 in a swearing-in ceremony before Egypt’s Constitutional Court surrounded by representatives from many nations – heads of state and high-ranked envoys -- including a member of the U.S. State Department. Almost three years from Egypt’s first uprising, a president enters office knowing that the 23 million votes cast for him (more than double cast for Morsi) were cast for a better future and not, as in the past, for provisions of rice and oil. Egypt’s electorate, mindful of turmoil in Libya and Syria, chose Mr. Al-Sisi, a man with backbone; now Iraq’s ISIS (a terror faction working alongside Al Qaida) threatens Egypt and Al-Sisi, and Egyptians count on their former field marshal and backer of the freedom movement to defend Egypt’s borders and continue to extinguish internal terrorism. 
 
Egyptians also expect the new president to waste no time in addressing the issue of religious doctrine which Al-Sisi prioritized in his pre-election promise to begin his term by “renewing the Islamic religious discourse.” He spoke this in a speech about revising the practice of religious hate. But Al-Sisi has already missed an easy opportunity to exercise this conviction. He could have discreetly disallowed the Quran readings during his installation ceremony (a tradition started by Sadat) without question, appearing innocent in the watchful eyes of Al Ahzar. Overlooking an important moment to demonstrate a principle of his campaign, Al-Sisi is seen by some as a bit mysterious regarding his resolve to take on the ultimate challenge to the Islamic establishment. Egyptians watch and wonder about the man they elected and his claims toward a modern state. 
 
Moreover, Al Ahzar Institute has anticipated the threat of Al-Sisi by sending clear territorial signals. For instance, in the April issue of the monthly magazine, Islamic Research Academy, Al Ahzar religious scholar and chief editor, Mohammed Omarah, denounced the critical thinking of two Egyptian Islamic scholars, Judge Mohammed Al Eshmawy and Dr. Hamed Abu Zeed, who both wrote on the issue of renewing Egypt’s religious discourse based upon the concept of the Quran as a historical document. The two separate authors stated that Qur’anic verses were not to be applied to every time and every place but were meant only for the Arab Peninsula during the 7th century. This theory strictly limits the Quran’s relevance and interpretation to that particular age. The views of Judge Al Eshmawy and Dr. Zeed were considered sacrilegious upon issuance and targeted again by Al Ahzar just two months ago, one month before Al-Sisi was elected. Furthermore, the deaths of both thinkers have been viewed with suspicion -- Zeed in 2010 and Eshmawy in 2013. Al Ahzar chooses this moment to revisit this topic. 
 
Meanwhile, the new president has illustrated some inspired contradictions to the Islamic state opening up a dialogue across the country. Sending shockwaves through the public sensibility giving hope to modern Egyptians, Al-Sisi’s actions on two occasions within three days’ time serve to enlighten Egyptians on how far he will go to prove his commitment to the people. After addressing citizens for the first time as president, Al-Sisi bicycled through the Heliopolis section of Cairo. Sporting white sneakers, tennis shirt and no helmet, Al-Sisi led a pack of more than three thousand students (military and police academy) through the city’s neighborhoods. Soft-spoken and even-toned, more priestly than charismatic, Al-Sisi thanked all participants for accompanying him. 
 
The spectacle of a marathon-style bike ride – where the president was open and vulnerable – only endeared him more to his admirers. The oddity and simplicity of the event was anything but gimmicky. His genuineness, the closeness, his courage and oneness with the people projected a plain and genuinely humble man. He was believable when he said, “I am one like you. I am not above you. Any identity that tries to damage this country I will not let come close to you to harm you. I will never allow that to happen.” 
Some say that Al-Sisi’s call for 6 a.m. aerobics bonded him to Egypt’s young men suggesting that in doing so Al-Sisi gave the notion that a less than industrious male workforce should now rise early and do its part to turn the country around under his leadership. Many speculate that Al-Sisi’s message is one of discipline for a new era. This makes sense in light of the president’s attention to a second issue. 
 
Two days before biking through city streets, Al-Sisi visited the hospital bed of a rape victim. The president personally apologized for her tragedy and handed her a bouquet of red roses. What does Al-Sisii’s visit mean in a country where rape is seen as a woman’s fault and where lax laws or punitive laws substantiate this cultural understanding? President Al-Sisi indicates that Egypt’s epidemic of sexual assaults on women in the protest squares and elsewhere is unacceptable and laws must change to act as deterrent to this crime. According to reports, Al-Sisi attended the victim’s bedside and expressed to the woman and her mother who had been forced to watch her daughter’s gang-rape and now stood by her side, “I am personally apologizing to you for what happened, and I apologize to all Egyptian women. They [the government, the police and the courts] will do everything to prevent such things from happening again.” 
 
Taken at face value, such modern, civilizing chords struck by Al-Sisi in a style like no other holds great promise for ordinary Egyptians, including Copts. As the former Interim Government’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mahalab, begins to form a new government at Al-Sisi’s request, the president deepens his connection with the people who have faith in his capacity to remember why he is there. The majority of Egyptians understand that the challenge is larger than any one man. Meanwhile, the enthusiasm that brought Al-Sisi to head the country will be sustained by the very actions we see him doing. This is a good thing for a country looking for radical change beginning with safety and the rule of law.

Fatah Asks Egypt to End Siege of Gaza

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 22 June 2014 13:12
Azzam al-Ahmed filePalestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction has sent a delegation to Egypt to discuss opening the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Sinai, even as terrorists in the Hamas-enclave continue firing rockets at Israel.
 
The delegation arrived in Cairo and is led by Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed, who represented Fatah in the reconciliation signed with Hamas in April and led negotiations in forming the unity government two weeks ago.
 
Leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a group recognized as representing the "Palestinian people" but which has never renounced terror, also are part of the delegation, according to a minister in the new unity government.
 
An Egyptian official revealed two weeks ago that newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration strongly supports the new Hamas-Fatah unity government, and is considering giving it supervision of the Rafah Crossing.
 
The Crossing has been closed for months as part of an Egyptian siege on Gaza, which has sealed off the illegal smuggling tunnels that are used to transport fuel and goods from Sinai, but also weapons and terrorists, and has consequently caused an economic collapse in Gaza.
 
As part of Egypt's conditions for easing its siege, Abbas would be required to re-open presidential headquarters in Gaza, said the official.
 
Additionally, the official stipulated that Hamas would have to separate from the Muslim Brotherhood, which it is an offshoot of, and not interfere with Egyptian affairs.
 
Israel has partially closed the Kerem Shalom Crossing and the Erez Crossing to Gaza out of concern that the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped the three Israeli teens last Thursday might abscond to the Hamas enclave with them.
 
Unconfirmed Arab reports on Monday suggested that Israel contacted Egypt to help negotiate the return of the three youths, even as Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdellaty said Monday that Israel must show "maximum self-restraint" in trying to rescue the three.
 
Sisi has said there is a chance for "true peace" with Israel if it adopts the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demanded Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria, at which point the Arab states would supposedly recognize it. He added that he would be willing to change the peace agreement with Israel.

Egypt Seizes Brotherhood-Owned Retail Stores

Category: News
Created on Monday, 16 June 2014 12:01
Khairat al-Shater Muslim Brotherhoods leader ReutersEgyptian authorities on Sunday seized two retail outlets owned by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, part of the ongoing crackdown against the group since its president Mohammed Morsi was ousted last year.
 
According to the AFP news agency, the businesses targeted were the Seoudi supermarket chain and Zad department store, respectively owned by Abdel Rahman Seoudi and Khairat al-Shater -- both leaders of the Brotherhood.
 
"Security forces are implementing the law," Cairo's police chief, Brigadier General Ali al-Demerdash, said in relation to the moves.
 
"A committee formed in accordance with a court ruling decided to seize Zad, which is owned by Khairat al-Shater, and Seoudi, which is owned by Abdel Rahman Seoudi, because the two leaders are financing the Muslim Brotherhood," he told reporters, according to AFP.
 
A court in September banned the Muslim Brotherhood from operating and ordered its assets seized. It also prohibited any institution branching out from or belonging to the Islamist movement.
 
The group has also been blacklisted as a "terrorist organization" in Egypt, after the country’s temporary authorities linked it with a series of terrorist attacks that occurred after Morsi’s ouster.
 
Shater, the Brotherhood's number two who headed its financial affairs, is behind bars and on trial for a range of charges, some of them punishable by death.
 
He was arrested along with Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie following the ouster of Morsi in July 2013.
 
Seoudi is a wealthy businessman but little is known about his role in the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Since Morsi's ouster the Brotherhood it has faced a brutal police crackdown, with more than 1,400 of its supporters killed in street clashes, and its top leaders including Morsi have been put on trail.
 
The two medium-sized supermarket chains had operations in Cairo, selling food and beverages, noted AFP.
 
Dozens of masked policemen were seen stopping customers from entering a Seoudi outlet in central Cairo on Sunday.
 
"They came and ordered us (employees) all out... yes, the chain is owned by a Muslim Brotherhood member, but we sell food and beverages, not politics," said a manager of the store.
 
Demerdash said the two retail outlets would be handed over to the government once all legal formalities were completed.

Sisi Sworn in as President As Doubts over Democracy Continue

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 June 2014 18:57
Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi was sworn into office on Sunday at Cairos Supreme Constitutional Court. Al ArabiyaEgypt’s former defense minister Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi was officially sworn in as President on Sunday, after winning by a landslide 96% vote in last month's elections. He will rule for a four-year term. 
 
“I swear by Almighty God to loyally uphold the republican system, to respect the Constitution and the law, to fully uphold the interests of the people and to safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of the nation,” Al-Sisi stated, before a cheering crowd. 
 
Analysts have expressed hope that Sisi will bring a climate of change to Egypt, which is still reeling for ongoing political turmoil since the 2011 "Arab Spring" and 2012 ouster of Mohammed Morsi. 
 
And it was the very spirit of revolution that politicians at the ceremony seemed to draw upon, according to the Wall Street Journal. 
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"The revolution fell in the grip of a group that ripped it all off. It ripped off the nation's body," Maher Sami, deputy head of the supreme court, who stated at the inauguration. "June 30 wasn't a military coup, but a people's revolution." 
 
However, observers at the scene noted that the elections were "not conducted in the spirit of democracy." 
 
Last week, Gulf News reported that the Egyptian election commission said that Sisi had gained 23.7 million, or 96.1 percent of the valid votes cast in the polls, Egypt’s first since the army ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July.
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Sisi’s sole challenger, Hamdeen Sabahi, secured 757,511 or 3.9 percent of the valid votes. Shortly after results were announced, Sabahi lamented the blow to democracy. 
 
"We cannot give any credibility or ratification to the announced numbers of turnout or results," Sabahi stated. "The announced results are an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptians."Al Sisi President
 
Testimony from European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) supporters bolstered a sense of mistrust in the election results, with many saying the vote had been rigged from the outset. 
 
“It is not as simple as fraud, as someone making fake ballots, that is not what we saw. What we saw was elderly people appearing at polling booths because they were frightened that if they didn’t vote Sisi they would be fined. We saw an environment where people felt they had no choice but to vote for Sisi,” an AU observer told social media site Buzzfeed last month, on condition of anonymity. 
 
“We could not count with, or move with, the ballots at every stage. So we don’t have anything to say regarding the turnout numbers. What we can say is that those who voted felt that they had no choice but to elect Sisi," the observer added. 

Egypt Willing to Give PLO Unity Government Gaza Border

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 08 June 2014 18:28
Fence along southern border - illustrativeA senior Egyptian official revealed Saturday that newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration strongly supports the new Hamas-Fatah unity government, and is considering giving it supervision of the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Sinai.
 
The official, who spoke to the Judea and Samaria-based Arab Ma'an News Agency on condition of anonymity, said Egypt is willing to open the crossing which has been closed for months.
 
The move is part of an Egyptian siege of the Hamas-enclave of Gaza, which has sealed off the illegal smuggling tunnels that are used to transport fuel and goods from Sinai, but also weapons and terrorists, and has consequently caused an economic collapse in Gaza.
 
As part of Egypt's conditions for easing its siege, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would be required to re-open presidential headquarters in Gaza.
 
Additionally, Hamas would have to separate from the Muslim Brotherhood, which it is an offshoot of, and not interfere with Egyptian affairs. Apparently the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah has impacted Egypt's appraisal of Hamas relations.
 
Egypt banned Hamas in March, accusing the terrorist group of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas. Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an "attempt to demonize Hamas."
 
Sisi, who is to be sworn in to his role as president on Sunday, strongly supports the new unity government according to the official, and will meet Abbas in Egypt to arrange relations between the new government and the new Egyptian administration.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres congratulated Sisi last Friday for his Tuesday victory.
 
Sisi laid out his policy in interviews before the elections, stating that there was a chance for "true peace" if Israel adopts the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demanded Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria at which point the Arab states would supposedly recognize it.
 
In the same interview Sisi said he would be willing to change the peace agreement with Israel.

Sisi Assassination Plot Foiled in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Friday, 06 June 2014 19:17
Ansar Bayt Al-MaqdisEgyptian security forces arrested six terrorists who had planned to attack newly elected President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's entourage after his swearing-in ceremony next Sunday.
 
The arrest was reported in the Egyptian paper Al-Watan, which added that diagrams of the new president's palaces and paths of how to enter them were found in the possession of the terrorists, according to Yedioth Aharonoth.
 
An initial investigation of the six suspects revealed that the plot consisted of a 15-man terror cell affiliated with the Salafist terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is based in the Sinai peninsula.
 
In investigations it became clear that the plan was to attack Sisi's entourage by means of a car bomb, explosives, or a suicide bomber.
 
Security sources said two weeks ago that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis's commander Shadi al-Menei had been shot dead in an ambush. The group responded by denying that its leader was killed, also denying that Menei was its leader. Earlier in the year the terror group fired rockets from the Sinai Peninsula towards the Israeli city of Eilat.
 
Official results of the presidential election were announced on Tuesday, officially declaring Sisi Egypt's new president with over 96% of the vote.
 
However, former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Tzvi Mazel told Arutz Sheva last week that Sisi will have a hard time putting the country in order, warning that he may face a revolution from the streets.
 
Sisi laid out his policy in interviews before the elections, stating that there was a chance for "true peace" if Israel adopts the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demanded Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria at which point the Arab states would supposedly recognize it.
 
In the same interview Sisi said he would be willing to change the peace agreement with Israel.

Sisi: Egypt is Moving Forward, Not Backwards

Category: News
Created on Friday, 30 May 2014 23:02
Al Sisi for presidentEgypt’s newly elected president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, vowed on Thursday that the country would not go backwards but move forward, Al Arabiya reports.
 
Speaking to the Kuwaiti newspaper Aljarida, Sisi said, “We know that some people fear a return to the past, but this will not happen, there is no going back and we will move forward.”
 
“The population has ambitions and there are humble people who need us to work and fight for them,” he added.
 
"We will please Egyptians through actions and not through words," declared Sisi.
 
The interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper came after results from this week’s presidential election in Egypt indicated that Sisi overwhelmingly won the contest with more than 90 percent of the votes.
 
Sisi gained favor among Egyptians after he ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi last July.
 
Since that time, hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial, and the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and designated as a terrorist organization.
 
It is hoped that Sisi’s election will bring about a calm in Egypt, though former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Tzvi Mazel told Arutz Sheva on Friday that Sisi will have a hard time putting the country in order.
 
"Egypt is a poor country, with 85 million residents. Every half year another half a million babies are born there, and every year 800,000 residents join the mass of job seekers; the financial situation is very difficult," Mazel said.
 
Without support from the West, Mazel says Sisi will have a rough time rehabilitating the Nile state which has been engulfed in violence since the 2011 "Arab Spring" which led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
 
"At this stage, Europe and also Obama have turned a cold shoulder on Sisi, claiming that he held a military coup and suspended the elected president; that's a serious problem," remarked Mazel.

Egypt's Sisi Wins Presidency with Overwhelming Majority

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 29 May 2014 10:25
Egypt Sisi ReutersPartial results indicate that Egypt’s former army chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, is headed for a big victory.
 
According to Reuters, Sisi's campaign said Wednesday night that the popular candidate had captured 93.4 percent of the votes with 2,000 polling stations counted. Judicial sources said he had 89 percent with 3,000 polling stations counted.
 
Sisi’s only rival, Hamdeen Sabahi, was on 2.9 percent according to the Sisi campaign, while the judicial sources put Sabahi on 5 percent. The rest of the ballots were deemed void.
 
The partial results came 90 minutes after polls closed after three days of voting.
 
Turnout was 44.4 percent of Egypt's 54 million voters, according to the judicial sources quoted by Reuters.
 
The results are hardly unexpected, as Sisi was expected to win the election with an overwhelming majority.
 
Sisi gained favor among Egyptians after he ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi last July.
 
The two-day vote was originally due to conclude on Tuesday but was extended until Wednesday evening to encourage greater turnout.
 
Fireworks erupted in Cairo when Sisi's results began to emerge. His supporters waved Egyptian flags and sounded car horns on the crowded streets of the capital, reported Reuters.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the poll, describing it as an extension of the army takeover. The group, loyal to Morsi, was outlawed by the military as a terrorist group and saw around 1,000 members killed in a security crackdown.
 
Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some have been sentenced en masse to death since Morsi’s ouster.
 
Sisi has declared that the Muslim Brotherhood was "finished" in Egypt and would not return if he is elected.

Leader of Sinai Al-Qaeda-Inspired Group Eliminated

Category: News
Created on Friday, 23 May 2014 10:12
Sinai TerroristThe leader of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group that fired rockets from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula towards the Israeli city of Eilat was killed in a drive-by shooting on Thursday, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
 
Three associates of the leader of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group were killed in the same incident as well, senior Egyptian security officials said.
 
The development deals a heavy blow to the group, which has claimed scores of deadly attacks across Egypt since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July.
 
According to three senior security officials, Shadi el-Manaei, who headed the group, and the three others were found dead after unidentified gunmen sprayed their vehicle with bullets on a road in central Sinai.
 
The officials said that according to the police investigation, 15 men in vehicles and armed with automatic machineguns, attacked el-Manaei's car to avenge the killings of tribesmen by his terror group.
 
Among the attacks claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in recent months was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt's military-backed interim government has blamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group for the violence, outlawing it and calling it a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the violence.
 
The United States has designated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis a foreign terrorist organization. Egypt just recently charged 200 suspected members of the group with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with Hamas.

Brotherhood Leader: We Fight the Jews, Not the Egyptians

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 22 May 2014 18:02
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie File -AFPMohammed Badie, the spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, claimed during his trial that his movement was not against Egypt but only against the Jews.
 
Footage from the trial was posted to the internet and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
Badie faces charges that include inciting violence during a Brotherhood sit-in at Cairo University in mid-July. He is one of 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were recently sentenced to death in a mass trial.
 
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“Never have we responded to violent attacks against us with violence. We are commanded to spread Allah's mercy through peaceful means,” Badie claimed during the trial.
 
“We have fought only against the Jews, and Kamel Al-Sharif may testify about the conduct of the Muslim Brotherhood in the [1948] war in Palestine. We fought against the Jews. The Israeli strategic research institute wrote in a report: ‘Our greatest enemies in the world are the Muslim Brotherhood.’ This is an honor for us, yet now we are being accused of conspiring with Hamas against the Egyptian people. This is an absolute lie,” he said.
 
“Beware of being used in this political conflict, the likes of which we have not seen in the entire history of Egypt. Such crimes, killings, and bloodshed have not occurred in the history of Egypt,” said Badie.
 
“Let me tell you, Allah knows that we are innocent of all these accusations. Our evidence will be decisive, because Allah defends those who believe,” he declared.

1 Killed, 6 Hurt in Sinai Bomb Attack

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:32
Sinai Bomb AttackOne Egyptian was killed and six others were injured in a bomb attack on Wednesday on a security vehicle in the Sinai Peninsula, security sources told Reuters.
 
Officials and witnesses said the casualties included both civilians and security officers.
 
Witnesses said Wednesday's attack was carried out by two men riding a motorcycle who threw a bomb at a security vehicle in the North Sinai city of El-Arish and fled.
 
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior confirmed the attack and said seven people had been injured. State television said the attack had resulted in deaths and injuries but did not provide details.
 
The attack is the latest in a string of terrorist attacks that have occurred in Egypt since the ouster last July of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
On Monday night, three Egyptian policemen were killed at Cairo's al-Azhar University.
 
The attack occurred when assailants stepped out of two cars and opened fire on a security checkpoint just outside the university.
 
In a previous attack on Saturday, a bomb wounded three people at a Cairo election rally for Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the former army chief who led the military in Morsi’s ousting and is the leading candidate to replace him in the election which takes place next week.
 
The Sinai Peninsula has been particularly hit by terror attacks, which started shortly after the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak and have only increased since Morsi’s ouster.
 
Many of the attacks in Egypt have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, 200 members of which were charged last week with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The Brotherhood denies having any connection to terrorism.

Hosni Mubarak Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 09:03
MubarakFormer Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, after being convicted for embezzling public funds.
 
Mubarak's two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were also convicted and were each sentenced to four-year prison terms. 
 
All three are accused of using 125 million Egyptian pounds ($17.6 million), which had been allocated for presidential palaces by the ministry of housing, for personal purchases. The Mubaraks have been ordered to repay the entire embezzled sum and fined an additional 21 million Egyptian pounds ($3 million). 
 
The Mubaraks were accused of diverting the funds to their own private residences in Cairo and along the Red Sea coast, according to BBC News, as well as a family farm. All three have consistently denied involvement, saying claims were "completely unsubstantiated because it never happened".
 
Judge Osama Shaheen slammed the Mubaraks for their corruption during the sentencing.
 
"He should have treated people close and far from him equally," Shaheen told the court Tuesday. "Instead of abiding by the constitution and laws, he gave himself and his sons the freedom to take from public funds whatever they wanted to without oversight and without regard."
 
Mubarak is already facing a retrial on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising that ended his more than three decades of rule. One of the defendant's lawyers has already vowed to appeal. 

Egypt: 3 Killed in Shooting at Cairo University

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 22:33
Al-Azhar students clash with riot policeReutersThree Egyptian policemen were killed at Cairo's al-Azhar University on Monday night, the Interior Ministry said, according to Al Jazeera.
 
The attack comes a week before the presidential election that former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected to win.
 
According to security sources, assailants stepped out of two cars and opened fire on a security checkpoint just outside the university.
 
Nine people were also wounded in the attack, the ministry said. It said the shooting happened as students were protesting in favor of former President Mohammed Morsi, who was toppled by the army after mass protests against his rule last summer.
 
Al-Azhar is Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning and has been the scene of frequent anti-government protests since Morsi’s ouster.
 
Armed groups have also stepped up attacks on security forces since Morsi's overthrow, killing hundreds of police and soldiers.
 
In a previous attack on Saturday, a bomb wounded three people at a Cairo election rally for Sisi.
 
Many of the attacks in Egypt have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, 200 members of which were charged last week with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The Brotherhood denies having any connection to terrorism.

Egypt Wants to Revoke Hamas Leader's Citizenship

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 22:08
Mahmoud al-Zahar -ReutersEgypt is working to revoke the citizenship of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior official told Al Arabiya on Monday.
 
According to Major General Hussein Ridi, Assistant Interior Minister for Passports and Citizenship, a proposal to revoke the citizenship of al-Zahar and 11 members of his family has been submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
 
The reason for the request, he told Al Arabiya, is proof that al-Zahar and his family are members of an organization that has been working “to undermine Egypt’s economic and social system.”
 
Al-Zahar is one of 8,000 Palestinian Arabs who were given Egyptian citizenship during the reign of ousted former president, Mohammed Morsi. Hamas is an offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Ridi added that security committees have been set up to examine the files of all Palestinian Arabs who have obtained citizenship and the extent of their commitment to the laws and the safety and security of Egypt, stressing that anyone found to have joined a terrorist organization or to be working for a government hostile to Egypt will have his citizenship revoked.
 
The announcement comes after an Egyptian court decided in March to declare Hamas a terrorist organization and to seize the group's assets and funds in Egypt.
 
Following that ruling, Egyptian security forces were reportedly planning to take away the citizen status of 13,757 Palestinian Arabs because of their support for Hamas.
 
Hamas has been the target of a crackdown by Egypt’s military-led government, after it enjoyed close relations with the Islamist Morsi’s government.
 
In addition to closing the Rafiah border crossing and essentially imposing a siege on Gaza, Egypt has also sealed most of the smuggling tunnels that are used to transport fuel and goods from Sinai, but also weapons and terrorists.
 
Egypt has accused Hamas of being responsible for several terror attacks that have hit the country since Morsi’s ouster, but Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations.

Egypt Jails More than 160 Brotherhood Members

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 08:39
behind barsEgypt is continuing its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and on Sunday a local court jailed more than 160 supporters of the Islamist movement to up to 15 years in prison.
 
According to a Reuters report, the defendants chanted "Down with military rule" as Judge Hassan Fareed handed down 10-year jail terms to 126 Brotherhood supporters accused of violence and membership of a terrorist group in one of the cases.
 
A further 37 people received 15-year sentences in a second case related to an alleged attempt to blow up a Cairo metro station.
 
The security forces have detained thousands of Brotherhood supporters since the military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last July following mass protests against his rule.
 
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters have been sentenced in mass trials since Morsi was ousted, including 79 who last week were given jail terms of between five and 10 years over their involvement in deadly clashes.
 
Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who was among 683 people sentenced to death last month, made a rare address in court, rejecting the accusations leveled against his group.
 
"We have never responded to any attack against us with violence," said Badie, according to Reuters, addressing the judge in footage uploaded to YouTube. The judiciary was being used in a political conflict the likes of which Egypt had never seen before, he claimed.
 
The government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group after an upsurge in attacks on the police and army following Morsi’s removal from power.
 
Most of the attacks have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, but Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
 
Last week, Egypt charged 200 suspected members of Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with Hamas.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group is the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.

Egypt: Bomb Hits Election Rally in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 18 May 2014 10:50
Muslim Brotherhood violence. File-ReutersA bomb wounded at least three people at a Cairo election rally for presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday, security sources said, according to Reuters
 
A man riding on a motorcycle threw the homemade device in the direction of Sisi supporters at the street gathering of about 150 people in a north-eastern district of the capital, the sources said.
 
Former army chief Sisi, who was not present, is expected to win the election on May 26-27, after gaining the support of many Egyptians who backed his ouster of former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
Sisi has avoided public appearances during his election campaign, apparently for security reasons, noted Reuters.
 
In an interview two weeks ago, Sisi revealed that there had been two attempts on his life.
 
While he did not say when the assassination attempts took place, he did say that he was “not afraid.”
 
Saturday’s bombing is the latest in countless attacks that have plagued Egypt since Morsi’s ouster last July.
 
Many of the attacks were claimed by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, 200 members of which were charged last week with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group is the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Egypt: 79 Morsi Supporters Given Jail Terms

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 17 May 2014 16:01
behind barsAn Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 79 supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi to jail terms of between five and 10 years over their involvement in deadly clashes, judicial sources said, according to AFP.
 
The defendants were convicted for participating in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents that killed 12 people in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria last July, after the military overthrew the Islamist president.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, supporters of him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement have been staging weekly protests calling for his reinstatement.
 
The rallies have often degenerated into violent street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.
 
Eleven defendants were given 10 years in jail, 13 were jailed for seven years, 55 were jailed for five years and seven acquitted, the sources added.
 
They were accused of murder, attempted murder, carrying weapons, and torturing 16 people in an Alexandria mosque, the sources told AFP.
 
At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes since Morsi's overthrow, and thousands have been jailed.
 
Hundreds have been sentenced in mass trials, including 683 supporters of the ousted president who were given death sentences in late April, and another group of more than 520 people who were given death sentences on charges of killing a policeman during an attack on a police station last summer.
 
Morsi himself faces three trials on various charges, including collusion with militant groups.
 
Almost 500 security men have also been killed in a wave of terrorist attacks carried out in retaliation for the crackdown on Morsi supporters.
 
On Saturday, Egypt charged 200 suspected members of the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for the bloodiest attacks since Morsi’s ouster.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Sisi: There's a Chance for 'True Peace' with Israel

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 17:36
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -ReutersAbdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the leading candidate in the race for Egypt’s presidency, said Monday that there is a chance for “true peace” with Israel, if it adopts the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
 
The comments by Sisi were made in an interview to Sky News, the same interview in which he stated that, if elected, he would be willing to consider making changes to the peace agreement with Israel.
 
“There is a real opportunity to establish peace with Israel and for it to be able to exist naturally in the region, if it accepts the Arab Peace Initiative,” he said, referring to the initiative presented in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, and which demands that Israel withdraw completely from Judea and Samaria, at which point the 22 Arab countries would supposedly normalize relations with Israel.
 
Similar comments were made last week by Egypt’s former foreign minister, Amr Moussa, though he made his comments in the context of Hamas, which he said must recognize the existence of Israel in order to make it possible to move forward with a Palestinian state.
 
“I believe that Hamas should declare its acceptance of the Arab initiative of 2002, which is the map of normalization and recognition of the state of Israel together with the establishing of the Palestinian state and the withdrawal of the occupied territory,” said Moussa, who is close to Sisi.
 
In the interview with Sky News, Sisi referred to Hamas and said that “Hamas's positions caused it to lose the sympathy and empathy on the part of the Egyptian people.”
 
Egypt, which was once close to Hamas, has grown increasingly hostile to the group after the Egyptian military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Hamas is an offshoot of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Last month, an Egyptian court outlawed Hamas, much like it banned the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year, and ordered all of its assets seized.

Egypt Charges 200 Members of Jihadist Group

Category: News
Created on Monday, 12 May 2014 11:06
Ansar Bayt Al-MaqdisEgypt’s chief prosecutor on Saturday charged 200 suspected terrorists with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with Hamas, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
 
It is the first mass trial of a Jihadi group since the country’s recent turmoil, noted the news agency.
 
The defendants, 98 of whom remain on the run, are all suspected members of the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for the bloodiest attacks since a wave of violence picked up following the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer.
 
The prosecutor’s statement refers to the group as “the most dangerous terrorist group,” and accuses the defendants of receiving military training in Gaza under the patronage of Hamas.
 
The statement also says the terrorists travelled to Syria where they took part in fighting against government forces before returning to Egypt.
 
Washington designated the group as a terrorist organization in April, accusing it of carrying out attacks in Israel, against security forces and tourists in Egypt.
 
Among the attacks claimed by the group is the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
In the Saturday referral, according to AP, prosecutors charged the defendants with founding and leading a terrorist group, attacking state institutions, conspiring with Hamas, premeditated murder and possession of weapons. A date for the trial will be set later.
 
The statement also said the prosecutor’s investigation revealed that Morsi had negotiated with the group while in office to ensure it abstained from violence during his rule in exchange for a presidential pardon to their colleagues in prison.
 
The prosecutor’s statement said the group had operated in eight clusters, which oversaw eight different cells handling recruitment, explosives making, arms smuggling from Libya, Sudan and Gaza, documenting attacks, monitoring targets and implementation and planning of attacks.

Egypt's Sisi Demands Israel Recognize 'Palestine'

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 11:05
al-SisiEgypt's ex-army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared that if Israel won't recognize the "state of Palestine," with its capital in Jerusalem, he will never visit Israel.
 
Speaking in a TV interview on Saturday, Sisi added "Egypt is a country whose policy, history and honor to contracts and treaties is firmly rooted. I'm part of the country, and will respect all international treaties and contracts, including the peace treaty with Israel."
 
Sisi's lip service to the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979 comes as the treaty has been increasingly put in question since the 2011 "Arab Spring."
 
Addressing the Israeli government, Sisi said "a true opportunity is before you to have a true peace treaty with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is necessary to open the 'gate of hope' in the (Middle East) region."
 
Peace talks with the PA were torpedoed after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, breached talk conditions by applying to 15 international conventions, and signed a unity deal with the terrorist group Hamas.
 
For his part, Sisi promised on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be allowed to exist in Egypt if he wins the upcoming May 26-27 elections, in which he is strongly favored over his lone contender. The Muslim Brotherhood is associated with Hamas, and Egypt has recently banned both groups.
 
An Egyptian court last month passed death sentences on 683 Muslim Brotherhood members. In another case in which 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were sentenced to death the month before, the judge upheld 37 death sentences but reversed the death sentences sentences of the other 492, commuting most to life in prison. Most of the people sentenced were tried in absentia.

Morsi Supporters Receive Sentences of 5 to 88 Years

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 08:50
Brotherhood Challenges  Seizing Group FundsA court in Egypt on Saturday sentenced 11 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to prison terms ranging from five to 88 years for rioting, the BBC reported.
 
The defendants were arrested during a wave of protests that followed the ousting of Morsi last year.
 
Five of the 11 people sentenced on Saturday were tried in absentia, according to the BBC.
 
The charges against all of the defendants were linked to demonstrations in the town of Samallout triggered by the violent crackdown on pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo.
 
Hundreds of people died and thousands were wounded in the operation by security forces.
 
All those convicted on Saturday are able to appeal against the verdicts.
 
In March more than 500 Morsi supporters were sentenced to death in the same court in Minya, south of Cairo.
 
That mass sentence was condemned by the West, with the United States warning Egypt that executing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood may affect the aid that Washington provides to Cairo.
 
The latest case comes amid a continuing crackdown against Islamists by Egypt's military-backed government. Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial, while Morsi’s the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

Egypt Bans 'World Nargila Championship'

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 08:23
Nargila water-pipe smoker illustrationEgyptian water-pipe smokers were left disappointed on Thursday, as the Nile state banned a competition known as the "World Shisha (water pipe) Championship."
 
Health Minister Adel Adawi on state TV criticized the event, which was scheduled to be held at an exhibition center in Cairo on Thursday and Friday, reports Al Arabiya.
 
According to Adawi, the event was banned given that "it is a blatant breach of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) anti-tobacco framework which Egypt is a signatory to.”
 
“Legal steps have been taken against the organizers of the World Shisha Championship,” added Adawi.
 
Shisha, also known as hooka or nargila, are a serious health danger according to WHO, despite the fact that many smokers of the pipe consider it to be less dangerous that cigarettes.
 
WHO research notes that a typical one hour shisha smoking session generally involves 200 puffs, while an average cigarette lasts 20 puffs.
 
It adds that 90,000 milliliters of smoke is usually inhaled during a shisha session, compared to 500 to 600 milliliters inhaled from a cigarette.
 
Stopping smoking, curing cancer
 
Egypt has made other, perhaps more dubious, steps to ensure the health of its citizens recently. 
 
Egypt's military in February released its new "Complete Cure Device," which it claimed could treat cancer and hepatitis C every time, in what doctors called a "scientific scandal."
 
Major General Ibrahim Abdel-Atti, head of the Cancer Treatment and Screening center, praised the "100%" success rate of the device, which draws blood, "breaks down" the disease, and returns supposedly cancer-free blood back to the patient.
 
"I will take the AIDS from the patient and I will nourish the patient on the AIDS treatment. I will give it to him like a skewer of Kofta to nourish him," Abdel-Atti said, making the unlikely reference to a local dish featuring ground meat.

2 Dead in Clashes in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:42
Attempted assassination of Egypts Internal MinisterTwo people were killed in clashes on Friday between protesters and police in the Egyptian city of Fayoum, AFP reported, citing local security officials.
 
Supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi have pressed a protest campaign since his overthrow last July, despite an extensive crackdown that has killed more than 1,400 people and imprisoned thousands.
 
One of the two killed on Friday, a 52-year-old man, was suffocated by tear gas during the clashes in Fayoum province southwest of Cairo, according to AFP.
 
The other fatality was a woman, but the officials did not say how she died.
 
Protests are expected to continue as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-army chief who toppled Morsi, stands in a late May presidential election he is expected to win.
 
Sisi is widely backed by Egyptians who want a restoration of stability, but Morsi supporters consider him the mastermind of a coup against the country's first freely elected president.
 
Morsi is currently on trial in several cases. In one trial he is being accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
 
In another trial, Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial since the Islamist president’s ouster and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.
 
In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

Egypt Claims to Have 'Eliminated' Terrorism From Sinai Peninsula

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 01 May 2014 08:08
Egyptian armored vehicle . ReutersIn a bold announcement Thursday, the Egyptian Army said that it had achieved “total security control” over the entire Sinai peninsula. The announcement came after many months of pitched battles between Egyptian soldiers, armed Bedouin gangs, Islamist groups, and Gaza-based Arab terrorists, all of whom had set up campsites and operations in the lawless desert region, which borders Israel.
 
According to Mohammed a-Shahat, the Egyptian Army's director of operations in Sinai, “there is now clear stability in Sinai, despite the fact that there are still pockets of terrorists and smuggling tunnels in the north of the peninsula.”
 
The announcement came after Egyptian soldiers eliminated a terror cell in Sinai earlier Thursday.
 
Sinai has been the scene of numerous terror attacks over the years, many of them aimed at Israelis and other tourists. In the latest attack last February, a bomb ripped through a tourist bus traveling near the Israeli border, killing three South Korean tourists and their Egyptian driver and wounding 33 others.
 
In 2011, a Sinai-based terror group carried out an attack on Israelis near Eilat that killed eight people. The leader of the group was Tuwafik Mohammed Frij or "Abu Abdallah," who headed of the Salafist Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terror organization that has claimed responsibility for firing Grad rockets at Eilat.
 
Frij was the commander responsible for the August 2011 coordinated Eilat attack, which left eight Israelis dead and many more wounded. A squad of terrorists which infiltrated from Sinai first opened fire on bus #392 from Be'er Sheva to Eilat as it neared its destination, injuring seven. Soldiers on board fired back, killing at least two of the terrorists and leaving a third critically injured.
 
Terrorists then targeted a second Egged bus less than an hour later near Eilat, killing the driver, and then opened fire on other Israeli-driven cars killing five more. An IDF military vehicle was blown up by an explosive planted on the narrow road as it raced to the scene, killing two soldiers.
 
Sinai terrorists have also blown up gas pipelines in the peninsula numerous times. Gas pipelines in Egypt has been attacked more than a dozen times since the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
Some of the attacks targeted a pipeline that supplied gas to Jordan and Israel, forcing Egypt to halt supplies to these two countries. Since that time Israel has begun to become more dependent on its own natural gas, so Egypt's abrupt cancellation of its contract to sell gas to Israel a year ago was, while very expensive for Israelis in the short run, not as damaging as Israelis initially feared in the longer run. Terrorists have also attacked Egyptian military units numerous times.
 
In March, Israeli officials seized a ship stuffed with arms that had been dispatched from Iran that US officials said may have been meant for terrorists in Sinai. A U.S. official and two non-Israeli regional sources said Israel appeared to be insisting that the ship's destination was Gaza in order to spare the military-backed interim Egyptian administration embarrassment as it struggles to impose order in the Sinai.
 
"Were the Israelis to say the rockets were going to Sinai, then they would also have had to say who in Sinai was going to receive the rockets," one source told Reuters, adding that such a statement would draw attention to the terrorists in the Sinai.
 
The IDF conducted the raid of the ship, the Klos C, in the Red Sea several weeks ago, between the waters of Sudan and Eritrea.

Egypt Tries to Curb Brotherhood's Influence Over Mosques

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 17:44
Morsi supporters clash with riot police in Cairo - ReutersThe Egyptian government has stepped up a campaign to curb Muslim Brotherhood influence over mosques, Reuters reported on Thursday.
 
The government said it has licensed more than 17,000 state-approved clerics to give Friday sermons to stop places of worship from falling “into the hands of extremists,” according to the report.
 
The military-backed authorities have been trying to bring mosques under tighter control since the army toppled Mohammed Morsi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood last July.
 
All of the newly-approved clerics have been trained at Al-Azhar University, which is a respected center of Sunni Islamic learning, and institutions run by the ministry of religious endowments, according to a statement issued by the prime minister’s office on Thursday.
 
“That is to strengthen the ministry’s supervision over all Egypt’s mosques so that they do not fall into the hands of extremists and the unqualified” and to prevent mosques being used for “party or sectarian” purposes, it said, according to Reuters.
 
Last September, the religious endowments minister said unlicensed clerics would be barred from delivering sermons at mosques - long a recruiting ground for Islamist parties.
 
The government statement said the ministry of religious endowments had taken “a big step” towards addressing a shortfall in “qualified preachers.”
 
Since Morsi’s ouster, more than 1,400 people have died in street clashes and thousands have been imprisoned. 
 
Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.
 
In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

Sinai Terrorists Vow 'Revenge' on US

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:16
Ansar Bayt al-MaqdisTerror group Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis announced Thursday that it will carry out revenge attacks on the United States and harm its interests in Egypt, following Washington's decision to add the Sinai-based terror group to its list of terror groups.
 
Voice of Israel's monitor of Arabic radio said that the organization vowed to strike US firms and delegations.
 
Egypt welcomed the US State Department’s decision Wednesday. Foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelati told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are in constant contact with the United States, Britain and other countries, and we constantly keep them in the picture to show the reality and danger of terrorism. It is an international phenomenon that threatens Egypt and the international community, and it needs action at the highest levels to fight this phenomenon and dry up its financial sources.”
 
According to the US State Department, the decision to add the group to the terrorist list followed discussions between the federal government’s Departments of Justice and Treasury. The listing of the group will be followed by a ban on providing it with financial aid and entering into contracts with the group, and the freezing of any assets or property it is proven to own in the United States.
 
The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has already claimed a series of terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai. The group had previously claimed a car bombing which killed five people outside Cairo police headquarters in January and the gunning down of six Egyptian soldiers in February. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The terror group has in the past also claimed responsibility for firing rockets from the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli resort city of Eilat, as well as attacking Israeli border patrol in a deadly assault in 2012. That attack left one border policeman dead, and another wounded. 

Al-Qaeda Head's Brother to Face Trial in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 22:32
Mohammed al-ZawahiriAl-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri's brother is to stand trial with 67 others for forming a "terrorist group" and plotting attacks after Islamist president Mohammed Morsi's ouster, AFP reported Sunday, citing Egyptian state media.
 
Mohammed al-Zawahiri was arrested last August, a month after Morsi's ouster by the army, and has been called to go on trial by the state prosecutor, the report said.
 
Zawahiri and the other suspects are accused of having set up an "Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group" that plotted attacks against government installations, security personnel and members of Egypt's Christian minority, state news agency MENA said.
 
The group was seeking to "spread chaos and undermine security" across Egypt, the agency said.
 
It said 50 of the accused were in custody, while others are on the run.
 
Judicial sources said investigations revealed the group had pressed members to go and fight the regime in Syria, but they were ordered to return to Egypt after June 30, 2013.
 
They were called back to confront Egypt's new authorities following Morsi's ouster, the sources added.
 
Judicial sources said Zawahiri was being charged with having formed the group, armed its members, and trained them in manufacturing explosives and planting bombs.
 
They said the authorities had evidence that the group's members were trained at secret locations in the Nile Delta city of Sharqiya and in Cairo's Matareya and October 6 districts.
 
Since Morsi's ouster, there have been frequent terrorist attacks in Egypt, which the military-backed regime has blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, insisting there is a connection between the Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
More than 1,400 people have died in street clashes since Morsi’s ouster and thousands have been imprisoned. 
 
Hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.

Human Rights Watch Urges Kerry to Delay Aid to Egypt

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 05 April 2014 21:20
HRW logoHuman Rights Watch has called on the United States not to resume military assistance to Egypt until its military-backed government ends human rights abuses and holds violators accountable, reported Reuters.
 
In October, the United States announced it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
 
The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Friday released a letter it had sent earlier in the week to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, following comments indicating that he would make a decision on aid resumption in the coming weeks.
 
Kerry must certify that Egypt is moving towards a democratic transition and protecting basic freedoms for the aid to resume.
 
"In the view of Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities continue to violate basic rights essential for the functioning of democracy," the letter said, according to Reuters.
 
The letter added that the military-backed government had killed more than 1,000 protesters and detained at least 16,000 people since Morsi was ousted in July following mass protests against his rule.
 
"The question is no longer whether Egypt is on the road to democratic transition, but how much of its brute repression the U.S. will paper over," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
 
"An accurate appraisal of Egypt's record since the military-backed overthrow of President Morsi would conclude that, far from developing basic freedoms, the Egyptian authorities are doing the opposite," she stated.
 
Egypt has come under criticism over the past week after a judge handed down death sentences to 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the sentencing "shocking" and warned Cairo that the move may affect the aid it receives from Washington.

Bombings Outside Cairo University Kill Two, Injure Seven

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:03
Bombings Outside Cairo UniversityBombings outside Cairo University killed an Egyptian Brigadier-General, the Egyptian interior ministry has said, and also wounded seven bystanders, some of whom were members of security forces outside the institution. Al-Jazeera and other outlets also report that at least one more person was killed in the blast.
 
Two of the bombs were planted outside the university; a third one exploded shortly afterward in the area and a fourth was diffused, according to Ahram Online. Egyptian officials said they were crudely made. 
 
No terrorist organization has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but local media is pointing fingers at Muslim Brotherhood-backed Isalmist groups as the likely culprit. 
 
Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has called for emergency meetings with senior ministers in the wake of the attacks. 
 
Meanwhile, students expressed fear at the growing unrest in Egypt, which has now landed a little too close to home.
 
"We expect trouble for the long term," Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a student, told Guardian reporters outside Cairo University after the explosions. "How can the police protect us when they can't even protect themselves? It is not possible."
 
More than 1,400 people have died in street clashes since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
In addition, hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.

Egypt: Detained Al Jazeera Journalists Denied Bail

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 16:40
al-jazeera-americaAn Egyptian court on Monday rejected a plea for bail by jailed Al Jazeera journalists, who denied links with the Muslim Brotherhood in a trial that has sparked international condemnation, AFP reports.
 
The journalists, who have spent nearly 100 days in jail since their arrest, are charged with spreading false news and supporting the Islamist movement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi.
 
"Please, get us out of jail, we are tired. We've been suffering in prison," Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the Cairo bureau chief of Al-Jazeera English, was quoted as having told the judges.
 
He and his seven co-defendants, dressed in white prison uniforms, were briefly allowed out of the caged dock to address the court, in a rather unusual move.
 
The trial, in which 20 defendants stand accused, has sparked an international outcry and fuelled fears of a media crackdown by the military-installed authorities.
 
Australian reporter Peter Greste also pleaded to be released on bail, telling the judges "we only desire at this point to continue to fight to clear our names outside prison".
 
"We would like to emphasize that we are more than willing to accept any conditions that you impose on us," he added, according to AFP.
 
Producer Baher Mohamed said he wanted to be with his wife during her pregnancy.
 
"My wife is pregnant and she visits me in jail with the children. It is exhausting," he said.
 
"I want to be released on bail so I can be by her side," added Mohamed.
 
Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar, has been called "the Muslim Brotherhood channel" and has been blamed for stirring up much of the violence that has rocked the Middle East in recent years and is often referred to as the “Arab Spring.” 
 
Several weeks ago, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, in protest over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt.
 
The gulf countries were critical of Qatar for providing a top radical Islamist, Yusuf Qaradawi, with a regular spot on Al Jazeera.
 
The arrests of the Al Jazeera journalists is part of the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster in July.
 
More than 1,400 people have died in street clashes since Morsi’s ouster, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
In addition, hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.

Egypt Calls for Reparations - from Biblical Times

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 11:03
Egypt -Biblical TimesMiddle-Eastern countries have a tendency to hold a grudge against Israel, whether over Israel winning the 1967 war or daring to establish independence in 1948. 
 
But, as of earlier this month, an Egyptian columnist has called for Israel to pay Cairo reparations - and this time, it's Biblical. 
 
"We want compensation for the [Ten] Plagues that were inflicted upon [us] as a result of the curses that the Jews' ancient forefathers [cast] upon our ancient forefathers, who did not deserve to pay for the mistake that Egypt's ruler at the time, Pharaoh as the Torah calls him, committed," Ahmad Al-Gamal, a writer for the Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' daily. Translations of the article were provided by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 
 
"For what is written in the Torah proves that it was Pharaoh who oppressed the Children of Israel, rather than the Egyptian people. [But] they inflicted upon us the plague of locusts that didn't leave anything behind them; the plague that transformed the Nile's waters into blood, so nobody could drink of them for a long time; the plague of darkness that kept the world dark day and night; the plague of frogs; and the plague of the killing of the firstborn, namely every first offspring born to woman or beast, and so on."
 
"We want compensation for the gold, silver, copper, precious stones, fabrics, hides and lumber, and for [all] animal meat, hair, hides and wool, and for other materials that I will mention [below], when quoting the language of the Torah," he continued.  "All these are materials that the Jews used in their rituals. These are resources that cannot be found among desert wanderers unless they took them before their departure..."
 
Later in the article Al-Gamal claimed that Israel stole the materials from ancient Egypt, purely out of spite. 
 
"The stories of the Holy Scriptures state that the Israelites set off from the [Nile] valley at night and went to the Sinai Peninsula. This is known to be a desert, where there is no use for large quantities of gold, silver, precious stones, meats, oils, fabrics and the like. Therefore, it is clear that the Israelites took all these things from Egypt before they left."
 
He quoted a translated version of the Torah, allegedly to prove his point. 
 
"Chapter 25 of Exodus, on the [Israelites'] departure [from Egypt], states: 'The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering... These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair;  ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense;  and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them."
 
He continued by calling on the international community to calculate the modern-day value of ancient shekels for compensation. 
 
": 'The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel...'," he noted. "I call upon everyone with an interest in Torah studies to instruct us on a scientific basis what is the [precise] meaning of the word 'talent.'  How many grams is it currently worth, what was the weight of the sheqel during those days, especially as it was made out of solid pure gold and pure silver?" 
 
The events Al-Gamal describes are from the Pesach, or Passover, story of the Jews being freed from ancient Egypt. The Torah does say that the Israelites were by G-d told to take spoils from Egypt, notably during the plague of darkness. 
 
However, Al-Gamal is not the first Egyptian to demand compensation. The Jews were asked to return those spoils at a much earlier period in history.
 
In fact, the Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin tells that the Egyptians came before Alexander the Great (approximately 330 B.C.E.) when he conquered Asia Minor and demanded that the Jews repay them for the gold and silver that the Torah says they took from Egypt during the Exodus. It recounts how Talmudic scholar Gviha ben Psisiah said to them that the same Torah that recounts how the Jews took spoils from Egypt also recounts how they worked as unpaid slaves for 210 years. Therefore, he claimed, they are owned an enormous sum of wages for that period. The Egyptian representatives asked for a three day hiatus to come up with an answer, but not finding one, they fled.
 
In the same article, Al-Gamal also calls for compensation from the Turks for invading Egypt during the Ottoman period, from the French for Napoleon's invasion in the 19th century, and the British for 72 years of occupation. 

Egypt Announces Date of Presidential Elections

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 11:07
Sisi next Egyptian presidentEgypt officially announced on Sunday the dates for the country’s next presidential election, reports the Associated Press (AP).
 
The Egyptian election commission set the first round of voting for May 26 and 27, with results expected by June 5, according to the report.
 
If a second round is necessary it will be held by mid-month with results announced no later than June 26, the commission said.
 
The announcement comes several days after Egypt’s powerful former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer, announced he would run for the presidency.
 
Morsi was removed from office on July 3, amid massive protests demanding his resignation and accusing him of monopolizing power and mismanagement in the face of myriad economic and social problems.
 
The military, led by Sisi, stepped in to remove Morsi and backed a political road map that promised presidential and parliamentary elections.
 
Sisi is highly popular among Egyptians and he took the approval of the constitution back in January as a vote of confidence for his presidential bid.
 
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already voiced its opposition to Sisi’s bid for the presidency, saying he was not a suitable candidate.
 
"He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup," the Brotherhood's political bureau member Ibrahim Munir said.
 
Since Morsi was ousted, more than 1,400 people have died in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
In addition, hundreds of Islamists have been placed on trial and some already given death sentences, a move which was criticized by the international community.
 
Street clashes have continued almost daily since Morsi’s ouster. On Friday, four people, including an Egyptian woman journalist, were killed in Cairo as police clashed with Islamists protesting against Sisi's presidency bid.
 
To officially make a bid for the presidency, noted AP, Sisi would have to collect at least 25,000 signatures from 15 out of Egypt's 27 provinces in a petition demanding he runs. So far, only one other candidate, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, who took third place in 2012 presidential elections, has said he would run.
 
The commission said that the window for nomination of candidates will open Monday until April 20. A three-week campaign period is slated to start on May 3, according to AP.

Egypt Sentences 2 Morsi Supporters to Death

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 09:42
Morsi supportersA court in Egypt on Saturday sentenced to death two supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi, who were convicted of throwing youths off an apartment block roof, AFP reported.
 
One of the young men thrown from the building in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria was killed.
 
The court submitted its verdict to the mufti, the government's official interpreter of Islamic law, for approval or rejection, judicial sources told AFP.
 
The latest death sentences come despite international outcry at Egypt handing down the death penalty to 529 Islamists this past Monday.
 
That verdict can be appealed, and the mufti has upheld death sentences in the past, noted AFP.
 
The men sentenced to death on Saturday were among 63 people on trial over deadly violence in Alexandria's Sidi Gaber neighborhood on July 5 of last year, two days after Morsi was ousted by the army.
 
The violence in Alexandria broke out as supporters and opponents of Morsi took to the streets of Egypt's second city, with one group demanding his reinstatement and the other celebrating the end of his sole year in power.
 
Amateur video posted on social networks at the time showed men throwing two youths from the building.
 
It showed four young men cowering on the rooftop who are followed by several older men, one of them bearded and holding a jihadist flag.
 
The men are seen throwing stones at the youths and later one is thrown from the roof.
 
The video goes on to show club-wielding men beating the youth's body.
 
Another man is later thrown from the roof and survives but is injured.
 
The latest death penalties come just days after an Egyptian judge issued death to 529 defendants on charges of killing a policeman during an attack on a police station last summer.
 
A day later, the trial of a further 682 Islamists began, among them the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, who was arrested last August after a brief spell in hiding.
 
And on Wednesday, Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered two trials for a total of 919 more people, who were charged with murder.
 
The mass death sentences have been condemned by the international community. A State Department official said on Monday that “it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony consistent with international standards could be accomplished with over 529 defendants after a two-day trial.”
 
"We continue to call on the Egyptian government to ensure that all those detained in Egypt are afforded fair proceedings that respect civil liberties and due process and are consistent with international standards. The law must be applied equitably and free of political bias," said the official.
 
On Tuesday, the United States warned Egypt that executing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood may affect the aid that Washington provides to Cairo.

Help the Copts of Egypt

Category: Events
Created on Monday, 31 March 2014 13:14
KanaMore and more eyes are opened to the pain and injustices around the globe because organizations like Voice of the Copts and others are working together to sharpen the focus on the truth of UNFORTUNATE REALITIES. 
 
Below, Ashraf Ramelah voices his thoughts on the origin of Voice of the Copts and why the organization is so valuable to the CAUSE OF FREEDOM. 
 
He begins his letter with “Voice of the Copts is worth all our efforts and sacrifice.” We hope that his words will serve as a reminder of what your support and investment means to a very CRUCIAL VOICE. So as you read his letter please remember that -- 
 
We continue to need your financial help as we continue to do the work on behalf of Copts and human rights.  

 
Dear Supporters and Contributors,
 
Voice of the Copts is worth all our efforts and sacrifice! Those we represent suffer immeasurably.  In 2007, when I started Voice of the Copts, my goal was the same as now -- to explain the dilemma of Egypt’s Copts to Westerners, especially co-religionists, so that heightened awareness of the horrors of oppression and persecution lead to the right actions. 
 
Then as now, many hours go into capturing the facts readers need (often not those widely available) to relate to the more than 20 million Copts living under stone-age supremacies in Egypt. 
 
The years have proven that a vast amount of information arriving from Egypt is very important to the assessment of conditions and the future of Copts and human rights. Additionally, analysis needed to interpret Egypt’s news for a wide audience requires much time and effort, which we are dedicated to investing.
 
In time I have come to know many noble freedom-fighters -- great people across the planet who unveil relevant, consistent truths and fight the same fight as Voice of the Copts. We have mutually edifying voices through numerous channels that reinforce the gravely debilitating and abusive behaviors toward Christians and Jews in Islamic-majority places. 
 
Not one of these voices should be snuffed out for lack of funds. Our consensus is crucial for today’s free world and freedom-seekers around the world. Please donate now to the work of Voice of the Copts.
 

 
Born and raised into Egypt’s adversities and dangers facing Christians and other non-Muslims every day, I know well the great need for those outside these places to hear, learn and reject barbaric behavior and its basis so that we can preserve freedom and liberty around the world. 
 
My ongoing account of the story of my birth place, its history and its political scene today is one of Voice of the Copts’ particular contributions to a dialogue our enemies wish to shut down. 
 
I am more committed than ever to this; the free society in which I now reside must have a critical understanding of the stifling bondage into which I was born still in existence today in order for the free world to win the declared war against freedom and democracy. 
 
Without exaggeration the information that we’ve transmitted via mass e mail and posted on the website has captured the interest of thousands of people around the globe. Such response has increased the weight of our responsibility. However, moreover, I am heartened to know that many have been awakened to the truth and credit Voice of the Copts and many other staunch defenders of freedom -- tireless, stalwart citizens from all lands who research, write, speak out, and protest -- with creating a problem for the enemies of freedom. 
 
Please know that your support for and investment in Voice of the Copts and others who stand for justice means the survival of the primary fight for freedom and human rights otherwise absent. Without your generosity, our useful information could not be brought as a warning and preparation against the spread of a democracy-loathing political ideology. 
 
Thank you. 
 
In gratitude,
 
Ashraf Ramelah
Voice of the Copts
President and founder
 
P.S. If you choose to direct finances to Copts in Egypt, please earmark your funds of $100 or more by noting in the donate comment box your desire to send your donation to a needy Coptic family in Egypt. 

Journalist Killed in Day of Violence in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 29 March 2014 18:23
Miada AshrafFour people, including an Egyptian woman journalist, were killed in Cairo Friday as police clashed with Islamists protesting against ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's presidency bid, a security official told AFP.
 
The violence erupted in a deeply polarized Egypt as supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi took to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities to vent their anger at Sisi who was instrumental in ousting the Islamist Morsi nine months ago.
 
Mayada Ashraf, who worked for the privately owned Al-Dustour newspaper, was shot in the head while covering clashes in the northern neighborhood of Ein Shams, the official told AFP, adding that three more people were killed in the same violence and 10 wounded.
 
Four people were also wounded in clashes in the northern province of Damietta.
 
In Cairo's eastern neighborhood of Madinat Nasr, students from Al-Azhar Islamic university hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at riot police who fired tear gas to disperse them, security officials said.
 
Clashes also erupted between Morsi supporters and his opponents in the northern Cairo districts of Ein Shams and Matareya, the officials told AFP.
 
Ten Morsi supporters were arrested in clashes with security forces in Damietta province, and 28 were arrested in the southern Minya province for carrying leaflets hostile to the military and the police, they added.
 
On Wednesday, after months of speculation, Sisi resigned as Defense Minster and announced his plan to run for president, saying it would be the last time he wears his military uniform. “I give up the uniform to defend the nation,” he declared.
 
In his speech, he reminded Egyptians of the security and economic challenges facing them, noting that he cannot “perform miracles” and calling on Egyptians to work hard to improve their country.
 
He also said Egypt was threatened by terrorists and he would work to make a country “free of fear.”
 
The Brotherhood voiced its opposition to Sisi’s bid for the presidency, saying he was not a suitable candidate.
 
"He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup," the Brotherhood's political bureau member Ibrahim Munir said.
 
Supporters of the widely popular presidential hopeful, who toppled Morsi after massive street protests against his turbulent one-year rule, also demonstrated on Friday to celebrate his candidacy, reported AFP.
 
Carrying Egyptian flags and portraits of Sisi, dozens marched in Alexandria and scores gathered in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, symbol of the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak.
 
Since Morsi was ousted, more than 1,400 people have died in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

Sisi's Replacement in Egypt Sworn In

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 29 March 2014 13:46
General Sedki Sobhi - Al SisiEgypt's new armed forces chief and defense minister was sworn in on Thursday, a day after Abdel Fattah el-Sisi resigned so he could stand for the presidency.
 
The BBC reported that Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour confirmed General Sedki Sobhi's appointment at the weekly cabinet meeting in Cairo.
 
General Mahmoud Hegazi was named the army's new chief-of-staff.
 
Sisi, who held the rank of field marshal, reportedly turned up at the cabinet meeting in civilian clothes.
 
On Wednesday, Sisi announced his plan to run for president, saying it would be the last time he wears his military uniform. “I give up the uniform to defend the nation,” he declared.
 
In his speech, he reminded Egyptians of the security and economic challenges facing them, noting that he cannot “perform miracles” and calling on Egyptians to work hard to improve their country.
 
The 59-year Sisi played a key role in the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi last year.
 
He also said Egypt was threatened by terrorists and he would work to make a country “free of fear.”
 
Since Morsi was ousted, more than 1,400 people have died in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
The Brotherhood voiced its opposition to Sisi’s bid for the presidency, saying he was not a suitable candidate.
 
"He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup," the Brotherhood's political bureau member Ibrahim Munir said.
 
Sisi is highly popular among Egyptians and he took the approval of the constitution back in January as a vote of confidence for his presidential bid.

U.S. Officials: Iranian Weapons Might Have Been Meant for Sinai

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 29 March 2014 10:07
Iranian Weapons for SinaiSome U.S. intelligence analysts and Middle East security officials believe that the rocket shipment that was seized by Israel in the Red Sea may have been destined for the Egyptian Sinai and not for Gaza, Reuters reported Tuesday.
 
A U.S. official and two non-Israeli regional sources said Israel appeared to be insisting on the Gaza destination in order to spare the military-backed interim Egyptian administration embarrassment as it struggles to impose order in the Sinai.
 
"Were the Israelis to say the rockets were going to Sinai, then they would also have had to say who in Sinai was going to receive the rockets," one source told Reuters, adding that such a statement would draw attention to the terrorists in the Sinai.
 
The IDF conducted the raid of the ship, the Klos C, in the Red Sea several weeks ago, between the waters of Sudan and Eritrea. 
 
The ship flew a Panamanian flag and carried weapons which were made in Syria under Iran’s directives. The destination of the weapons was Sudan, from where they can be then taken to the Sinai Peninsula and smuggled to Gaza through the underground tunnels.
 
Both Iran and Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers have denied any connection to the Klos C. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied that his country was behind the ship and also claimed that Israel had purposely revealed the capture of the ship the same week that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington for the AIPAC conference.
 
The officials who spoke to Reuters said that it would have been hard for the M302 rockets on board the Klos C to enter Gaza, given the Israeli naval blockade of the region as well as Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on the smuggling tunnels.
 
A U.S. official said Washington had confirmed the Syrian and Iranian provenance of the rockets and believed they were to have been used against Israel, but added that half of U.S. intelligence analysts thought that Sinai, not Gaza, was the destination.
 
"You look at those things and it's obvious they couldn't have been slipped into Gaza," the official said, adding that the M302s were not designed to be disassembled for easier smuggling.
 
Experts noted that with their 160 km (100 mile) range, the M302s could have been launched from areas of Sinai well away from Israeli spotters along the Egyptian border, and struck Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
 
Rocket attacks from the Sinai at Israel are certainly a possible. A Salafi group based in the Sinai, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, has claimed several rocket attacks from the Sinai at the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

U.S. Warns Egypt Against Executing Brotherhood Supporters

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 29 March 2014 09:41
Message to Hussein ObamaThe United States warned Egypt on Tuesday that executing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood may affect the aid that Washington provides to Cairo.
 
Speaking one day after an Egyptian court sentenced 529 supporters of the movement to death, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the sentencing "shocking."
 
"The imposition of the death penalty for 529 defendants after a two-day summary proceeding cannot be reconciled with Egypt's obligations under international human rights law, and its implementation of these sentences, as I said, would be unconscionable," she stressed, according to AFP.
 
"If Egypt's leaders want to ensure a political transition to democracy that ultimately improves the stability and economic prospects of their country and their people, and that's respected by the Egyptian people, they must unequivocally ensure an environment that is free of intimidation or retribution," Harf added.
 
"This includes ensuring due process and fair trials for all Egyptians accused of crimes."
 
Harf made clear that the way Egypt proceeds regarding the trials and death sentences will have consequences for future American aid.
 
The United States has already announced it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt over its displeasure with the military's pace of restoring democracy following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, though Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.
 
"We are determining if this assistance will stay suspended, if more will be suspended, if some will be brought back on line. And suffice to say, things like (these) outrageous, shocking, unconscionable actions that the Egyptian government is taking will, of course, have an impact on that decision," Harf said on Tuesday, according to the Reuters news agency.
 
"We are making clear to the Egyptian government that these verdicts cannot be allowed to stand," she added. "The government of Egypt should be taking action to increase the freedoms of the Egyptian people, not to suppress them, thereby feeding into the exact extremism that undermines peace and security."
 
Harf’s remarks come one day after the U.S. said it is "deeply concerned" about the death sentences handed down to the 529 Muslim Brotherhood Islamists.
 
"While appeals are possible, it simply does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony consistent with international standards could be accomplished with over 529 defendants after a two-day trial," a State Department official said.
 
"We continue to call on the Egyptian government to ensure that all those detained in Egypt are afforded fair proceedings that respect civil liberties and due process and are consistent with international standards. The law must be applied equitably and free of political bias."
 
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the trial of a further 682 Islamists began, among them the Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, who was arrested last August after a brief spell in hiding.

Brotherhood Says Sisi 'Not Suitable' to be President

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 27 March 2014 09:37
al-SisiThe Muslim Brotherhood has voiced its opposition to Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s bid for the presidency.
 
Speaking to AFP shortly after Sisi officially announced his plan to run, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood said that Sisi was not a suitable candidate.
 
"He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup," Brotherhood's political bureau member Ibrahim Munir told the news agency by telephone from London.
 
The Brotherhood further warned there could be no stability in Egypt under the "shadow" of his leadership.
 
Earlier, Sisi said he had quit the military to run for president and vowed to rid the country of "terrorism."
 
"Today, I stand before you for the last time in a military uniform, after deciding to end my service as defense minister and commander of the armed forces," he said, dressed in his field marshal's uniform and sitting behind a desk.
 
"With all modesty, I nominate myself for the presidency of Egypt,” said Sisi.
 
Just hours before Sisi's address, clashes between ouster President Mohammed Morsi's student supporters and police killed one protester at a Cairo campus, reported AFP.
 
In southern Egypt, prosecutors referred more than 900 suspected Islamists to trial, two days after a court sentenced 529 to death for deadly rioting.
 
Morsi himself, detained on his ouster on July 3, faces several trials along with much of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.
 
Since Morsi was ousted, more than 1,400 people have died in street clashes, and thousands have been imprisoned. The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.

Sexual Harassment Video Sparks Controversy in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:06
Screenshot shows victim being escorted away from baying mobA viral video of a Cairo University student being aggressively sexually harassed has sparked controversy across Egypt on Wednesday over women's rights and roles. 
 
The video shows a blond-haired female student being subjected to a shocking level of verbal harassment simply for walking through the university campus. According to Al Arabiya, the student hid in the restrooms until Cairo University security staff safely escorted her off campus, after a group of male students physically attacked her and attempted to remove her clothes.
 
The fact that she was wearing what some deem as "provocative" clothing - a platinum blonde wig, leggings, and a bright pink shirt, sent social media in Egypt spiraling into controversy - with some claiming the incident was "her fault".
 
{youtube}yPnpIbpqHXc{/youtube}
 
While students and spectators argued over the video among themselves, the controversy deepened when law school dean Gabriel Nassar allegedly implied that the victim was to blame over her choice of clothing. 
 
“This girl entered the university wearing an abaya (loose cloak) and then took it off in the faculty, and appeared with those clothes, that caused, in reality... but this doesn't justify at all [the incident],” Nassar said on Egyptian channel ONTV. 
 
Nassar's comments caused a backlash so intense that he took to Twitter to apologize, explaining that he was not blaming the victim.
 
"I apologize for the misunderstanding and I repeat that those who (harassed the girl) will be severely punished,” he wrote. 
 
Women’s rights activist Mariam Kirollos replied on her own Twitter account that the dean “should be interrogated and expelled” and that “investigations into the incident should start immediately.”
 
The issue of sexual harassment in Egypt has become front and center in the arena of women's rights over the past several years, after foreign journalists were assaulted in the 2011 Tahrir Square protests, causing local and worldwide outrage. 
 
Last year, Thomson-Reuters noted that Egypt has the worst track record in the Arab world for violence against women. 
 
An additional study by the United Nations, which interviewed hundreds of women across Egypt, revealed that more than 99% of women there had experienced some form of sexual harassment, ranging from minor incidents to rape. 
 
Ahram Online noted Wednesday in light of the viral video that the problem is exacerbated by the fact that, astonishingly, sexual assault is not a crime in Egypt; instead, police list such incidents as "honor crimes," attacking a woman or public obscenity.
 
At least two different draft bills have been submitted to the Egyptian parliament since 2012 to criminalize sexual assault, but both failed to garner enough support. 

Hamas Slams Egypt's Siege of Gaza

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 08:38
Rafiah border closedGaza's Hamas terrorist rulers on Tuesday sharply criticized Egypt's closure of the Rafiah border crossing, saying Cairo's tightening of restrictions on Gaza was a "crime against humanity," AFP reported.
 
"The Egyptian authorities' insistence on closing the Rafiah crossing and tightening the Gaza blockade... is a crime against humanity by all standards and a crime against the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
 
He condemned "the continuation of this blockade and closing the crossing, all whilst Israel escalates and (increases) aggression."
 
"We hold all parties to the blockade of Gaza completely responsible for the consequences of this crime," charged Barhoum.
 
The government of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, but the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on Hamas, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an “attempt to demonize Hamas”.
 
In addition to closing the Rafiah border crossing and essentially imposing a siege on Gaza, Egypt has also sealed most of the smuggling tunnels that are used to transport fuel and goods from Sinai, but also weapons and terrorists.
 
The Hamas interior ministry said that Rafiah, for many Gazans the only passage in and out of the Strip and a crucial crossing for supplies, has now been closed for 39 straight days.
 
The UN, reported AFP, slammed closures to Gaza's border crossings by both Egypt and Israel, expressing concern for Gazans in need of medical treatment.
 
"Extremely limited movement in and out of Gaza from (Israeli-controlled) Erez and Rafiah crossings continues to afflict the civilian population, including patients awaiting medical treatment," UN under-secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a Tuesday briefing to the Security Council.
 
"Recurrent drug and medical equipment shortages are affecting the Gaza medical system, further increasing the number of patients seeking referral outside for medical conditions that could have been treated inside Gaza, were supplies available," he added.
 
Earlier this week, dozens of sick and disabled residents of Gaza protested the Egyptian siege, demanding passage to Egypt for ongoing medical treatment in the Nile state and other countries.
 
Roughly 1,500 sick and injured people in Gaza are waiting for the reopening of the border crossing.

Gazan Sick Protest Egyptian Siege

Category: News
Created on Monday, 17 March 2014 17:19
Gazan Protest Egyptian SiegeDozens of sick and disabled residents of Gaza protested the Egyptian siege on Saturday, demonstrating across from Egypt's Rafah Crossing leading to Sinai. Their demand -- passage to Egypt for ongoing medical treatment in the Nile state and other countries.
 
Roughly 1,500 sick and injured people in Gaza are waiting for the reopening of the Rafah Crossing, which has been closed for 36 days, reports a spokesperson for the protest group.
 
The spokesperson revealed the information to journalists in front of the Egyptian embassy in Gaza, representing the protest that was organized by the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza.
 
The spokesperson blamed Egypt for, in his words, aiding the "enemy," namely Israel, by besieging the Hamas-enclave even as it is "struck" by Israel. The man further called on the international community to pressure Israel and Egypt to open the crossings.
 
Gaza's protest came the same Saturday that the terror-stronghold's lone power plant was turned off due to a fuel shortage.
 
Aside from the Egyptian siege, which has cut off smuggling tunnels from Sinai to Gaza, the blackout was caused by rivalry between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas refuses to pay exorbitant fuel taxes to the PA on fuel coming through Israel.
 
After Gazan terrorists rained nearly 100 rockets on Israel starting last Wednesday, the Kerem Shalom Crossing was closed last Thursday, leading Hamas to quickly blame Israel for the power outage.
 
However, Israel noted the crossing is normally closed on Friday and Saturday, meaning it was only closed for one day in response to the unprecedented upsurge in attacks. The crossing reopened on Sunday to alleviate the terror-enclave's energy crisis.
 
The protest highlights Egypt's role behind Gaza's situation, despite the consistent blaming of Israel. Just two weeks ago an Egyptian court banned Hamas for its alleged role in terror attacks in the chaotic Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt Promises 'Decisive Action' After Gunmen Kill 6 Soldiers

Category: News
Created on Monday, 17 March 2014 16:25
Egypt  Decisive Action against terroristsEgypt has declared "decisive action" against Islamists on Sunday, 24 hours after six soldiers were killed by unidentified gunmen at a checkpoint in a Cairo suburb, according to Al-Jazeera. Two bombs were also left at the checkpoint and defused by explosives experts, 
 
In response, the Egyptian cabinet decided to "decisively confront whoever attacks citizens and civilian and government installations," it said in a statement. It added that attacks on military personnel would be dealt with in the military court system, in accordance with the constitution approved via a January referendum. 
 
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No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, according to Xinhua, but analysts at several agencies have named likely candidates as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Al Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terror organization. 
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has already claimed a series of terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood.
 
The army has also already been cracking down on Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s offshoot which controls Gaza and is seen by Egypt as a threat to its security. Egypt has been shutting down Hamas tunnels which lead from the Sinai into Gaza. Hamas uses these tunnels to transfer goods, weapons and even terrorists.
 
Egypt has also blamed Hamas of being involved in teaching Islamists in Egypt how to carry out attacks. Hamas has denied the allegations.

Days After Rocket Barrage Gaza Left Powerless

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 16 March 2014 21:55
Gaza Left PowerlessGaza's lone power plant shut down on Saturday due to a lack of fuel. An Israeli official stated the fuel shortage was caused by infighting between Hamas, ruling Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria, likely over fuel taxes.
 
The Hamas-run enclave has been dealing with rolling power outages since last November. An Egyptian siege cutting smuggling tunnels transporting fuel from Sinai, coupled with high PA taxes that Hamas refuses to pay on fuel coming through Israel, has led Gaza to shut down the plant frequently.
 
Gaza's terrorist rulers were quick to blame Israel for the power outage, reports AFP. They pointed the finger at Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's order to close the Kerem Shalom crossing and Erez pedestrian crossing Thursday, "until further security assessments."
 
The closure followed a barrage of roughly 100 rockets since last Wednesday. The deluge of rockets was the largest-scale attack since the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.
 
However, an Israeli official cut through the accusation, noting "Kerem Shalom is always closed on Fridays and Saturdays, so it was only closed for an entire day on Thursday."
 
The official argued that the shortage in fact occurred as "the result of an internal conflict between the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah."
 
While Israel's one day of closure may not have cut power to Gaza, MK Shuli Muallem (Jewish Home) last Wednesday called on Israel to do just that, and leave Gaza in darkness in response to the unprecedented attacks.
 
"I call on the Israeli government to adopt a resolution - for every rocket fired towards southern Israel, Gaza will receive an hour of darkness," declared Muallem.
 
Aside from the animosity with the PA, Hamas has run afoul of the Egyptian government as well, being banned by the Nile state two weeks ago.
 
The tension was illustrated last week when Hamas was left fuming after Egypt contacted the terror group Islamic Jihad directly to try and broker a ceasefire with Israel, while intentionally ignoring Hamas.
 
The "ceasefire" was quickly broken at least six times by the Gaza terrorists between last Thursday and Friday.

Bomb Explodes Outside Israeli Embassy in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 15 March 2014 22:42
Investigators gather in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo - ReutersA home-made bomb exploded in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing security sources and the website of the local Al-Ahram newspaper.
 
Security sources said the explosion targeted a police car parked near the embassy, rather than the embassy itself. No one was hurt in the explosion, according to the report.
 
In 2011, in the chaos that ensued in Egypt after the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, the Israeli embassy came under attack by an angry mob who tore down the barrier around the embassy and broke in, proceeding to light parts of the embassy on fire and throw documents out the windows.
 
Egyptian commandos rescued several security guards who were trapped inside at the last minute, after intervention by President Barack Obama. The building has not been used by the Israeli embassy since that incident.
 
In August of 2012, 76 people were convicted on charges of attacking the Israeli embassy.
 
Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president who replaced Mubarak,  repeatedly said he would continue to maintain the peace with Israel and uphold international documents signed by prior Cairo administrations, but mostly gave Israel the cold shoulder while in office.
 
Morsi’s ouster and his replacement with a military-backed regime appeared to calm the tension between the countries. In October, the Israeli foreign ministry named Middle East specialist Haim Koren as the Jewish state's next ambassador to Egypt.

Egypt Deports Women Activists who Tried to Enter Gaza

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 13 March 2014 11:26
An Egyptian army check point is seen in El-Arish city in North Sinai ReutersEgypt on Friday deported dozens of women activists who had flown in to Cairo but been barred from entering the country in their bid to reach neighboring Gaza, an airport official told AFP.
 
About 100 women, most of them from Europe and the United States, had hoped to enter the Palestinian enclave through Egypt's Rafiah border crossing to celebrate International Women's Day on Saturday.
 
Eleven women were sent back to Istanbul, another 22 to Paris and six to Frankfurt, the official said, according to AFP.
 
They were among 65 activists deported over the past 24 hours, some from the United States, France, Belgium and Switzerland, the official added.
 
Two members of the delegation, Northern Irish Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire and American anti-war activist Medea Benjamin, were deported earlier this week.
 
Egypt controls the Rafiah border crossing into Gaza, the only one that bypasses Israel, and is accused of colluding with the Jewish state in blockading the territory, ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization.
 
Authorities have urged the delegation to abandon the trip over safety concerns, foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said in a statement Thursday.
 
"Given the current extraordinary security conditions in northern Sinai and the difficulty of ensuring the security" of the activists until they reach Rafah, the timing is "not appropriate," the statement, quoted by AFP, said.
 
Ann Wright, an American organizer of the delegation, told AFP that eight American women were in Cairo and that some of them will wait to see if they can go ahead with the trip.
 
"Some of the delegates will probably go home in the next couple of days," Wright told the news agency.
 
"But some others will stay to see if the government will allow us to go (to Rafiah) at the last minute", she added.
 
Another organizer, from France, told AFP that "requests to pass through the Rafiah crossing for a dozen French women will be sent to Egyptian authorities by the French embassy."
 
While the government of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an “attempt to demonize Hamas”.
 
On Tuesday, in the latest step in Egypt’s crackdown on Hamas, a court outlawed the terror group and ordered all of its assets seized.

Egypt Blocks 100 Female Activists On Way to Gaza

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 23:31
Egyptian militaryA group of 100 European and American activist women were stopped by Egypt on Thursday, as they attempted to cross Sinai to spend International Women's Day on Saturday in Gaza.
 
Egyptian authorities stopped the women at the Cairo airport. Among the group, Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and anti-Israel activist Mairead Maguire was already deported on Wednesday; the same happened to American activist Medea Benjamin on Tuesday.
 
Another wave of 45 women, most hailing from France, were prevented from entering the country on Thursday, reports AFP. Authorities proposed that 27 of the activists be deported, a proposal which was refused as the women apparently wished to stick together. Thirty of the women have been let into Egypt, where they are still negotiating passage to Gaza with authorities.
 
Apparently the women have begun a sit-in protest at the airport, and are demanding a refund on the cost of their tickets and visas from Egypt, reports Ahram Online.
 
Before they departed for Egypt, the Nile state attempted to dissuade the women from their plans to enter Gaza through the Egyptian Rafah crossing, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
 
The group was told "the timing was not appropriate... given the current extraordinary security conditions in northern Sinai and the difficulty of ensuring the security of the activist group until they reached the Rafah crossing," remarked Abdelatty.
 
The steps taken to isolate Gaza are seen as an extenuation of Egypt's ruling Tuesday to ban Hamas, the terror group governing Gaza. All Egyptian assets of the group were ordered seized.
 
Following the ruling, a decision was announced to strip 13,757 Palestinians of their Egyptian citizenship. The citizenship had been granted under President Mohammed Morsi's rule, given the close ties between Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. However, Morsi was ousted last July by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has hinted he will run for president.
 
Clashes between Muslim Brotherhood and the military have left Sinai in a state of instability, with numerous terror attacks rocking the region.
 
Egypt has been cracking down on Gaza; last November the area suffered intense power shortages after an Egyptian siege destroyed the illegal fuel smuggling through tunnels from Egypt.

Morsi Accused of Leaking Secrets to Iran

Category: News
Created on Friday, 07 March 2014 16:40
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Cairo AFPProsecutors in Egypt on Sunday accused deposed president Mohammed Morsi of leaking state secrets to Iran's Revolutionary Guards as part of a plot to destabilize Egypt, AFP reported.
 
The accusations came at the second hearing of the former Islamist president’s trial for espionage.
 
The trial, one of three that are under way against Morsi, is part of a relentless government crackdown targeting him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since his ouster by the army in July.
 
Prosecutors accuse Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
On Sunday, the second hearing since the trial opened on February 16, they detailed the charges against Morsi and his co-defendants.
 
They were specifically accused of "delivering to a foreign country ... national defense secrets and providing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilize the security and stability of the country," according to AFP.
 
The statement read in court did not identify the "foreign country", the report noted, but prosecutors said Morsi and the defendants carried out espionage activities on behalf of the "international Muslim Brotherhood organization and Hamas with an aim to perpetrate terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state" from 2005 to August 2013.
 
During Morsi's one year presidency, ties flourished between Cairo and Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which rules neighboring Gaza.
 
At Sunday's hearing Morsi was held separately in a soundproof glass cage, designed to keep him and the other defendants from interrupting the proceedings with outbursts.
 
This, however, did not stop defendants, including Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat al-Shater and other Islamist leaders from shouting and rejecting the accusations against them.
 
The defendants were represented by a new team of 10 defense lawyers appointed by the lawyers' union, to replace the original team that withdrew from the case, noted AFP.
 
The trial was adjourned to February 27.
 
This trial is only the tip of the iceberg for Morsi, who faces a total of four trials against him. Two of his other trials have already begun: the first, which started in November, holds him responsible for killing protestors outside the Presidential Palace in 2012; the second, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
This trial is seen as another step in Egypt’s crackdown not only on the Muslim Brotherhood but also on Hamas.
 
While Morsi’s government was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Last week, Egyptian border forces destroyed 10 tunnels and seven homes in the Sinai, as part of a new campaign to create a buffer zone along the border with Gaza that would extend 500 meters in some places.

Egypt’s FM Concerned About Knesset Debate on Temple Mount

Category: News
Created on Friday, 07 March 2014 02:40
jerusalem solomon templeEgypt’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday expressed concern about the debate in the Knesset about the Temple Mount, the Egyptian Youm7 website reported.
 
According to the report, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said that it is dangerous to allow “extremists” to lead the political scene and the results of this could lead to crises “in Palestine and the entire region.”
 
He also urged the Israeli government to do what it takes to stop extremists among Knesset members who, he claimed, broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and quarreled with the mosque visitors.
 
Fahmy called for committing to the fixed rules that have been used since 1967, adding that eastern Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and all sacred places are part of eastern Jerusalem.
 
Tuesday night’s historic Knesset debate on the issue of freedom of religion and Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, was initiated by MK Moshe Feiglin, a long-time campaigner for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, where non-Muslim prayers are currently forbidden.
 
Feiglin attacked the discriminatory management of the holy site, which is under the de facto rule of the Waqf. Jews are often forbidden from entering and arrested for having religious or national symbols.
 
He called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to immediately apply Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and to halt the destruction of antiquities at the site by the Waqf.
 
Leading up to the debate, riots broke out on the Temple Mount Tuesday morning, as Arabs threw rocks and firecrackers at police when they opened the Rambam Gate, the only entrance through which Jews are permitted to enter. As a result police reportedly closed the site to Jews.
 
Response to the Knesset debate was also heard from Jordan's parliament, where Islamists in the opposition called on the government to freeze the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. 

Egypt: Gunmen Murder Police Guard of Morsi Judge

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 08:54
Supporters and opponents of Morsi clash in Alexandria - AFPGunmen on Friday killed an Egyptian policeman who was on a security team guarding the home of a judge in the jailbreak trial of ousted president Mohammed Morsi, security officials told AFP.
 
Attacks on Egypt’s security forces have surged since the army ousted the Islamist Morsi last July, and as the military-installed authorities press a deadly crackdown on his supporters.
 
Sergeant Abdallah Metwally was shot dead as he rode his motorbike across a bridge over the Nile in the city of Mansoura north of Cairo, according to AFP.
 
The attack on Metwally, who was wearing plain clothes, was carried out by assailants who were also on a motorbike, at about 7:30 a.m. local time, Brigadier General El-Saeed Omara of Mansoura police told the news agency.
 
His killing comes with an appeal court on Saturday set to examine a defense request to appoint a new panel of judges in Morsi's jailbreak trial.
 
Morsi and 130 other defendants, including Palestinian Arab and Lebanese militants, are charged with organizing jailbreaks and attacking police stations during the 2011 revolt against former President Hosni Mubarak.
 
The case, one of three already opened against Morsi, is part of a relentless government crackdown targeting him and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since his ouster.
 
Earlier this week, prosecutors in one of Morsi’s trials accused the deposed president of leaking state secrets to Iran's Revolutionary Guards as part of a plot to destabilize Egypt.
 
The accusations came at the second hearing of the former Islamist president’s trial for espionage.
 
Prosecutors accuse Morsi and 35 others, including leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, of conspiring with foreign powers, the Hamas terror group and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
 
Mansoura, in the Nile Delta, where Friday’s killing took place, was the site of a deadly car bombing in December when the city's police headquarters was attacked, killing 15 people, mostly policemen.
 
That bombing resulted in the Brotherhood being  designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
The Mansoura bombing was the deadliest since Morsi's overthrow outside the Sinai Peninsula, where terrorists have killed scores of police and soldiers. While most of the attacks have been claimed by the Al-Qaeda inspire Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, interim Egyptian authorities have long claimed a link between the Brotherhood and the string of bloody attacks that followed Morsi’s ouster.
 
The Brotherhood, for its part, has denied any connection to terrorism in Egypt. 

Egyptian Court Bans Hamas

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 08:43
Hamas militantsAn Egyptian court outlawed the terror group Hamas on Tuesday, much like it banned the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year, and ordered all of its assets seized. 
 
The judge explained that the decision stems from the risks Hamas poses to Egyptian security. He accused the organization of terrorist activities in cooperation with the Islamist group called Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
The court ruling is a blow to the economic power of Hamas rulership in Gaza, which had previously cooperated with Egypt in facilitating trade and smuggling activities; in addition, Hamas offices will be shuttered all over Egypt. 
 
Hamas officials slammed the decision as a political tactic. "Any decision such as this is an attempt to besiege the Resistance, and serves the Israeli occupation," Bassem Naim, a senior official in Hamas, told AFP Tuesday. 
 
While the government of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was friendly with Hamas, the military-led government that ousted him has cracked down on the group, which it accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and of planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an “attempt to demonize Hamas”.
 
Egypt has been clamping down on the smuggling tunnels which are used to smuggle goods, but also arms and terrorists, between Gaza and the Sinai.
 
Sources in Egypt recently hinted that now that the Egyptian military has taken care of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, its offshoot Hamas was next to face the music. 
 
"We cannot be liberated from the terrorism of the Brotherhood in Egypt without ending it in Gaza, which lies on our borders," an Egyptian security official told Reuters in January.  

Child kidnappings on the rise in Egypt

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 11:30
Egyptian childrenChild kidnappings on the rise in Egypt: Rape and ransom phenomenon sweeping Egypt
 
On February 13, 12 year-old Yosef Hassan Shaker left his home in Abu Teshet, a small town in Upper Egypt, with his elementary school classmate and friend. Together they planned to head to school to see what grade they made on the midterm examinations. Yosef’s grade was a high score of 96, but he would never live to hear this good news. His trusted school friend and neighbor used the pretense of checking grades to lure him into his house so that two older boys could take Yosef captive, strangle him to death and throw his body into a small creek just a few yards from Yosef’s home. 
 
To avoid suspicion, his killers searched for Yosef for six days alongside Yosef’s other neighbors and family members while requesting a ransom of 200,000 Egyptian pounds for Yosef’s return. His killers, two older Muslim boys in their 20’s, plotted this kidnapping based on their knowledge of Yosef’s father who worked away in Kuwait and was believed to have earnings enough to pay a ransom for his son. 
 
Egypt’s depleted economy – further deteriorated from the revolutionary strife of the past three years, government failure and lack of law enforcement -- has been the catalyst for criminal schemes such as this one gone sour. It mostly pays off and has been on the increase – Muslim against Muslim, neighbor against neighbor, Muslim against Christian. In 2013 in Upper Egypt, four children in Qena and seven children in Nag Hammadi, all less than 10 years old, were abducted. 
 
After the January 2011 uprising child kidnappings rose 90 percent
 
Only 30 percent of abduction cases are reported in a timely manner, according to the most recent statistics used by Al-Ahram.  The majority, 70 percent of all cases, entail delayed reporting to authorities out of fear that the victim might be murdered because of police involvement. In the majority of uninterrupted occurrences families responded affirmatively to the demands of the ransom. 
 
According to the state-run newspaper, Al Ahram, 88 percent of all abductions committed are not planned targets but spurred randomly out of the chaos of the streets and, most of the time, entail attempts to extort money from families unable to pay. Ninety-five percent of kidnappings include foreign tourists and businessmen, Egyptian and foreign traders, and Coptic Christians – all demanding higher ransoms than the average Egyptian.   
 
One to two million orphans live in Egypt’s city streets throughout the country
 
Egypt has always lacked the social services necessary to support abandoned children produced by “prostitutes” allowed to practice by means of Islamic “Travel Nekah.” Beginning in Sadat’s era, Arab-Muslims visiting Egypt were permitted to enter into a “marriage” contract of a temporary duration with any interested woman. Many impoverished women utilized this official short-term travel marriage by receiving money for sex until the contract ended and the foreigner 

Jordan, Israel Strike Natural Gas Deal

Category: News
Created on Friday, 21 February 2014 17:12
Jordan king Abdullah and PA chairman Abbas - ReutersJordan is turning to Israel for its natural gas supplies, according to Al-Ahram, after Egyptian pipelines have become unreliable. 
 
Noble Energy, the United States based company that runs the Tamar natural gas field off the coast of Israel, signed a $771 million deal with Jordanian gas suppliers on Wednesday. The Arab Potash company and the Jordan Bromine company will receive the supply over a 15-year period.
 
Projected revenues from the deal are expected to be high - at least $500 million, according to the most recent reports. 
 
"The supply will start in the coming two years. The project will reduce the total production cost for Arab Potash by $357 million and for Jordan Bromine by $7.5 million in the first stage of the project," Arab Potash chairman Jamal Sarairah stated to Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ghad. 
 
Jordan relied heavily on Egypt's gas pipeline for its energy supply until now, despite ongoing political instability in Cairo.
 
The gas pipeline in Egypt has been attacked more than a dozen times since the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011; constant terror attacks in the Sinai have only escalated since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
The instability has become so great that the Jordanian government began holding talks with Israel this summer to become the first Arab country to purchase natural gas from Israel
 
Earlier this month, Jordanian officials said the disruptions in gas supplies cost Amman at least $1 million per day. According to the Egyptian Cabinet Information Centre (IDSC), Egypt’s natural gas production shrank in December 2013 to 3.3 million tons - down 11.8 percent from December 2012.
 
"We are aware of the situation in Egypt and they [Egyptians] are aware of our situation in Jordan,” Jordan Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour during a meeting with an Egyptian delegation in Amman, according to Al-Ahram.  “Egypt is to begin gas mega-projects and Jordan has already commenced implementing a natural gas terminal that is expected to be completed by the end of this year to import and store liquefied gas. Egypt then can export its surplus gas from Jordan." 
 
Israel's natural gas pipeline may also bring other international deals. AFP noted Tuesday that ongoing peace talks in Cyprus, if successful, could lead to an energy deal between Israel and Turkey. 

Sinai Jihadists Promise More Attacks

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 08:26
logoAnsar Bayt al-Maqdis, the Al-Qaeda linked terror group behind the terror attack on a bus carrying Korean tourists in Taba, threatened on Monday that it would carry out more attacks.
 
According to Reuters, the group confirmed that the bus bombing was a suicide attack carried out by one of its men.
 
"Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has successfully sacrificed one of its heroes to detonate the bus headed toward the Zionists, and this comes as part of our economic war against this regime of traitors," the group said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
 
"With God's will we will be watching this treacherous gang of infiltrators and we will target their economic interests in all places in order to paralyze their hands from (hurting) Muslims," the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis statement said.
 
On Sunday, several hours after the attack, the group promised on Twitter that it “will continue to hurt the leaders in Egypt, the economy, the tourism and the gas."
 
The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has already claimed a series of terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood.
 
The group had previously claimed a car bombing which killed five people outside Cairo police headquarters last month. The group has in the past also claimed rocket attacks on the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The Brotherhood has denied any link to terrorism. On Monday, it condemned the Taba attack and termed it “cowardly”.
 
“The Muslim Brotherhood strongly condemns in the strongest possible terms the cowardly attack on a tourist bus in the town of Taba. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and all those who have been affected by this terrorist attack,” the group said in a statement on its official English language website.
 
“Muslim Brotherhood deplores all forms of violence and demand that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice,” the statement added.

Al-Qaeda Linked Group Claims Taba Attack

Category: News
Created on Monday, 17 February 2014 18:35
attack at Taba Turists busThe Al-Qaeda inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis terror group on Sunday night claimed responsibility for the terror attack on a bus carrying Korean tourists in Taba.
 
Army Radio quoted a Twitter statement by the group which said, “We will continue to hurt the leaders in Egypt, the economy, the tourism and the gas."
 
The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has already claimed a series of terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood.
 
The group had previously claimed a car bombing which killed five people outside Cairo police headquarters last month. The group has in the past also claimed rocket attacks on the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Meanwhile, Egypt’s president condemned Sunday’s attack, in which three tourists and an Egyptian driver were killed.
 
A statement from the presidential office spokesman said the attack was a “cowardly act aimed at innocent tourists.”
 
The Egyptian presidency called the attack a “despicable act of cowardice” and vowed to bring the culprits to justice, according to The Associated Press (AP).
 
South Korea also voiced shock and outrage over the bombing and issued a travel ban for the Sinai region, reported AFP.
 
"We are shocked and enraged at the terrorist bombing on the bus... and strongly condemn the act," Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by the news agency.
 
The tourists were all members of the same church group from the central South Korean county of Jincheon who were on a 12-day trip through Turkey, Egypt and Israel.
 
"We believe that terrorism can never be justified under any circumstances and such inhumane and unethical acts should be weeded out by all means," the ministry said.
 
Seoul issued a total travel ban on the Sinai region and the Gulf of Aqaba, while urging its nationals living elsewhere in Egypt to take extra precautions or leave to a third country if possible, according to AFP.
 
The attack came as former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi stood trial in Cairo for the third time since he was toppled, this time on terror and spying charges.
 
Egypt’s interim government says there is a direct link between Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and on this basis blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terror organization.
 
The Brotherhood has denied any link to terrorism.

Mohammed Morsi Stands Trial in Egypt for Conspiracy

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 16 February 2014 18:49
U.S. urges Mursi to repudiate anti-Semitic remarksFormer Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi stood trial in Cairo for the third time since he was toppled Sunday - this time, on terror and spying charges, according to BBC News. 
 
Morsi is on trial with 35 others accused of working with Lebanese and Palestinian Arab groups to carry out terror attacks in Egypt. The trial is yet another step in the country's crackdown on activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's party, which Egypt declared a terror group in December. 
 
Security around the courtroom was tightened as the court session loomed, according to Al-Ahram, with dozens of police vehicles and security checkpoints surrounding the building. 
 
But the main hindrance to the trial proved to be not Muslim Brotherhood supporters, but the defense itself - which walked out of the courtroom in protest just after the trial began after Morsi and the other defendants were placed in a soundproof glass partition some compared to a cage.
 
The defendants claimed that they could not hear the proceedings during the trial, according to BBC News, due to the arrangement; the prosecution insisted that headphones placed inside the glass area allowed them to follow the trial.
 
However, that was not enough for the defense, who stormed out of the courtroom anyway, citing other civil rights violations, including the claim that Morsi was not allowed to see his family nor his lawyer before the trial, according to CNN.
 
It is unclear why the defense has decided to walk out now over the partition, which was also present at a different trial against Morsi in January.  
 
Egypt: Cracking Down on Terrorism - at Home and Abroad
 
According to Al-Ahram, the trial not only accused Morsi of working with the Muslim Brotherhood, but expanded into an international fight on terrorism. The defendants included Lebanese men, who were accused of working with Hezbollah, and Palestinian Arabs, who were accused of working with Hamas to attack targets in the Sinai desert.
 
Of the 35, 19 are reportedly already behind bars; the remaining 17 have arrest warrants issued against them. Some of the defendants implicated in terror include Morsi's presidential aides, including former national security advisor Essam El-Hadad. 
 
For all, the charges are severe; the prosecution accused each of them of acting "with the purpose of terrorizing the Egyptian people, stirring chaos, infringing upon the independence of the country and its territorial integrity as well as the unity of the people, and foaming sectarian sedition with the aim of igniting civil war in Egypt," according to CNN. 
 
This is only the tip of the iceberg for Morsi, who face a total of four legal trials against him, BBC News notes. Besides for Sunday's conspiracy trial, two other trials have begun: the first, which began in November, holds him responsible for killing protestors outside the Presidential Palace in 2012; the second, which began in January, cites his role in a 2011 jailbreak which saw the deaths of several police officers. A fourth trial will be held over charges of insulting the judiciary. 
 
Sunday's trial signifies yet another step by Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt's homegrown terrorism - and against external terror, particularly in the Sinai Desert. The targets there include Hamas, with which Morsi's government was friendly, and which the current government accuses of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Hamas has denied the Egyptian government’s allegations, claiming they were an “attempt to demonize Hamas”.
 
In addition, Egypt has been clamping down on the smuggling tunnels which are used to smuggle goods, arms and terrorists between Gaza and the Sinai. A report Saturday surfaced claiming that the government is creating a "buffer zone" between Egypt and Gaza to prevent more Hamas-led terror from infiltrating Egypt through Rafah. 

Egypt Gives Death Sentences to Terrorists

Category: News
Created on Monday, 10 February 2014 18:56
Muslim protestsThe Egyptian government continued its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood Monday, sentencing 14 Muslim Brotherhood terrorists to death and four more to life imprisonment for an attack committed during the 2011 uprising. 
 
The men were sentenced for attacks on police, soldiers, and a bank near El-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai. One of the defendants was also sentenced to death for stopping a train and shooting 5 Coptic Christians inside, killing one of them. 
 
Earlier Monday, the Egyptian government announced that it had uncovered a terror cell organized by a Brotherhood leader that killed five policemen in an attack on a checkpoint south of Cairo last month.
 
If the accusation is true, it would confirm suspicions some Brotherhood members are joining a growing militant campaign amid a massive crackdown on the Islamists.
 
Since the ouster of Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has been designated as a terrorist organization by the army-led government.
 
The Egyptian army has been busy with a military offensive against Sinai-based terrorists. On Saturday, the army said that it killed 16 Islamist terrorists in the Sinai, near the border with Gaza, the day before.

Egypt Kills 16 Terrorists Near Gaza

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 09 February 2014 13:44
Egyptian helicopter over the SinaiEgypt's army reported on Saturday that it killed 16 Islamist terrorists in Sinai near the border with Gaza the day before. The liquidation of the 16 terrorists was conducted by an Egyptian airstrike in an area south of Sheikh Zuweid on Friday evening, according to the army's statement.
 
The region has seen heightened violence; Hamas has been accused of a December attack on Egyptian police headquarters, and planning church bombings in Sinai last Christmas.
 
Egyptian reports have indicated Hamas will become an increasing danger in 2014, and analysts comment that the Nile state will have to take out Hamas if it hopes to secure itself.
 
The country has been in an incredibly violent and unstable period since the 'Arab spring' led to the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The anniversary of Mubarak's ousting on January 25 this year sparked clashes that left over 29 dead.
 
Former President Mohammed Morsi replaced Mubarak, and was similarly ousted by the military last July. His Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and has repeatedly clashed with the army since then.
 
Egypt's military leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has indicated that he will run for president, an election bid which is widely expected to be a sure success.
 
Last November, Egypt signed a $4 billion arms deal with Russia that is designed to specifically enable Egypt to at least achieve parity with the IDF.

Egypt's Sisi Confirms Presidential Bid

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 20:45
Al SisiEgyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said he will run for president, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a Kuwaiti newspaper.
 
The Al-Seyassah daily quoted Sisi as saying that he had no alternative but to meet the demands of the Egyptian people for him to run in the elections, which are due within six months.
 
There have been speculations for months that Sisi, who led the revolution that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July, will run for the presidency.
 
Sisi is wildly popular for overthrowing Morsi and last week he received the backing of Egypt's top military body to run for president.
 
A victory for the 59-year-old Sisi, who will have to give up his military uniform to stand for election, would continue a tradition of Egyptian presidents drawn from the armed forces.
 
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said last week that "the people's trust in Sisi is a call that must be heeded as the free choice of the people. "
 
The statement said Sisi thanked the military leadership for allowing him "the right to respond to the call of duty."
 
Sisi took the approval of the constitution last month as a vote of confidence for his presidential bid.
 
He has also been supported by Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi.

Ashraf Ramelah’s Report for Voice of the Copts 02/05/2014

Category: Reports
Created on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 12:00
violence against CoptsHow Copts in Egypt take the brunt of rampant violence: Everything changed; all remains the same
 
Egyptian Copts have been paying a high price for survival in the land of their ancestry. In the seventh century, Arab-Muslim conquerors of the Roman occupiers of Egypt demanded that Copts (Egyptians) convert to Islam or die. Fortunately, there was a third choice that kept the native Copts alive – as a denigrated class of citizens they were mandated to pay exorbitant taxes called Jizya on wages. This lasted through the mid-19th century. Faith in Christ, belief in miracles, reliance on the church body and clergy made and make it possible for Copts to co-exist with Islamic supremacy. Oppression and discrimination against Copts has been normalized over many centuries. 
 
In October of 2010, a few months before the outbreak of the freedom movement in the Egyptian streets made headlines across the world as a part of the “Arab Spring,” a quiet revolution began to stir among Christ worshippers deciding for the first time to defend their churches and neighborhoods against the barrage of unprovoked attacks by Muslim gangs and their police accomplices suffered for so long. The Mespero freedom fighters, a group originating with this revolt, soon joined with liberal, secularist, pro-democracy freedom fighters in January of 2011 to form a genuine Egyptian freedom coalition. 
 
When the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked the protest coalition in early 2011, Cairo’s Tahrir Square revolts solidified against the Mubarak regime. Ousting the president-dictator was optimal, but, as a result of this, today’s conflict between Egyptians arose. At first, the secular, liberal Egyptians lost out to the Muslim Brotherhood terror organization and the religiously conservative Morsi presidency. Copts bore the brunt of Morsi’s Islamist power surge and received worse after his removal.  In fact, the entire three-year span of Egypt’s revolution brought a flood of deadly aggression against Copts. Even now, as the tide is reversing to subdue Islamists and oust terrorist groups, nothing has altered the Copts’ tragic situation as targets of violence. 
 
A review of recent history where Copts have been under attack, suffer great losses and remain under threat 
 
The Upper Egypt province of Alminya (150 miles south of Cairo) was the first area to receive acts of revenge after the January 2011 uprising. These included episodes of deadly assaults and kidnappings of children. Stores and homes were looted, and the towns of Samalut, Abu kurkas and Magagha saw Christian medical doctors kidnapped and held for ransom. Of course trials were never held for those arrested for the crimes because Copts were intimidated into “peace” agreements with the perpetrators, agreeing not to press charges and to pay extortion money to the attackers. Copts were forced to participate in the Arab-Muslim arbitration sessions to bring such “justice” about.  
 
In Delga, after Morsi was arrested, Copts were forced to walk away from their land or sell property for minor compensation, yielding to the thug power of Islamist forces. The ancient seventh century Church of the Virgin Mary was burned and destroyed and now remains among the world’s prominent historic losses due to Islamic hatred of non-Muslims and their religious beliefs. 
 
In Assiut, the capitol of Upper Egypt, a child Copt is worth a ransom of one million Egyptian pounds. Mubarak’s installation in the early 1980’s marked the beginning of violence against Copts in Assiut’s highly-concentrated Christian population. After Morsi’s removal, Assiut suffered an Islamist wave of atonement called “takfier” with a Muslim Brotherhood campaign to systematically target churches there. Takfier is the Islamists’ justification for last October’s killing spree of Copts leaving a wedding at Saint Mary Church in Al Waraq in the province of Giza where a speeding motorcycle sprayed gunfire into the exiting crowd killing an eight year-old girl and four others.  
 
The Coptic churches in Cairo often are targeted after Islamic Friday prayers. This proves to Christians that mosque preaching and prayers stimulates hatred toward them. Muslims responsible for graffiti cursing the Coptic Pope soiled the wall of the historic Church of Saint Mary in Zyton, the section of Cairo where Copts have claimed a sighting of the Virgin Mary. 
 
In Dahshor, Muslim mobs firebombed homes and businesses in this predominantly Coptic town taking revenge on an entire population for the accidental damage done to a shirt of a Muslim client by a Coptic-owned laundry. Copts (130 families) fled their homes to save their lives. Only 30 families braved a return to their neighborhood where Muslim raiders now occupy their Christian neighbors’ homes.  

Egyptian Court Upholds Ban on Muslim Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Monday, 03 February 2014 11:56
deadly attack in Mansoura01An appeals court for urgent matters in Egypt turned down Saturday a legal challenge by members of the Muslim Brotherhood against a verdict ordering the seizure of the group's funds by the interim government.
 
According to the Al Ahram newspaper, the court upheld the verdict, declaring that the Brotherhood's funds, assets and NGO would remain seized.
 
The appeal was filed against both Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi and Minister of Social Solidarity Ahmed El-Borai, the report said.
 
The initial verdict, issued on September 23, banned the Muslim Brotherhood and its NGO, leaving the Islamist group with no legal status.
 
The Brotherhood existed outside Egyptian law for decades and was only officially registered as an NGO in March 2013. The registration came after a panel of judges recommended the movement’s dissolution.
 
The group has criticized the verdict, saying it was issued by “an incompetent court,” and should have been dealt with by the administrative court.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has been the subject of a wide-ranging crackdown since the army ousted its president, Mohammed Morsi, last July.
 
Last month, Egypt froze the assets of more than 500 leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has also been blacklisted as a "terrorist organization". That designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
The Mansoura attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, but Egypt’s government has said that there is a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ongoing terrorism in the country.
 
The Brotherhood has denied any connection to terrorism in Egypt.

Egypt rejects U.S. criticism on detained journalists

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 30 January 2014 15:52
detained journalistsEgypt’s foreign ministry has rejected U.S. criticism of the top prosecutor’s decision to refer 20 Al-Jazeera journalists to trial, insisting the country’s judiciary is independent.
 
Thursday’s comments by the ministry’s spokesman, Badr Abdelattie, came a day after Egypt’s top prosecutor sent the 20 journalists to trial. They are charged with aiding or joining a terrorist group and endangering national security. No date has been set for the trial.
 
The decision prompted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to say that Washington was “deeply concerned” about the lack of freedoms in Egypt and the country’s “egregious disregard for the protection of basic rights and freedoms.”
 
Abdelattie says Egypt’s judicial system ensures fair trials and that the government does not interfere in its work.

Egyptian Army Kills Senior Member of Al-Qaeda Inspired Group

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 30 January 2014 07:29
Bomb Blast Targets BusEgyptian military officials said Wednesday that troops backed by helicopters and armored vehicles have killed eight terrorists in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
 
The officials who were quoted by The Associated Press (AP) said that the dead included a senior member of the Al-Qaeda inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
 
The Wednesday air raids and assaults in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid come less than a week after terrorist from the group shot down a military helicopter with a shoulder-fired missile, killing all its crew and alarming authorities about the use of sophisticated weaponry.
 
The officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
 
On Tuesday, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood.
 
The group threatened similar attacks against the army chief and the interior minister, who was already the target of a failed assassination attempt claimed by the group last September in which a bystander was killed.
 
The group had previously claimed a car bombing which killed five people outside Cairo police headquarters last Friday. The group has in the past also claimed rocket attacks on the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Several months ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists and called for “jihad” against it.

Egypt Announces Early Presidential Elections

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 17:34
Adly MansourEgypt on Sunday announced early presidential elections likely to anoint the general who overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
 
AFP reported that the country’s interim president Adly Mansour announced the elections in a televised address, a day after 49 people died in clashes between Islamist protesters and police and thousands rallied in support of military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
 
Sisi was expected to declare his candidacy for the election, scheduled before mid-April, after a show of support including Saturday's large rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
 
The weekend clashes and bombings also highlighted the interim government's precarious grip seven months after Morsi's overthrow.
 
On Sunday, an Al-Qaeda inspired group released a video it said showed its fighters downing with a missile a military helicopter in the lawless Sinai peninsula.
 
The group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, also claimed credit for a car bombing outside police headquarters in Cairo on Friday morning that killed four people.
 
The military has acknowledged five soldiers were killed in an incident involving a helicopter on Saturday, but said it was "an accident," according to AFP.
 
Over Friday and Saturday, five bombs went off after the attack on the Cairo police headquarters, killing to more people.
 
The violence came as Egypt commemorated the 2011 uprising that overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak, leading to three years of tumult that many hope Sisi's election will end.
 
As Mansour addressed the nation to announce the early presidential election, relatives of those killed on Saturday assembled outside a Cairo morgue, chanting anti-military slogans.
 
In his address, Mansour, a judge the military appointed as interim president to replace Morsi, pledged to "uproot (terrorists) and show them no mercy".
 
The government says a series of polls that started with a constitutional referendum in January and will end in parliamentary elections will restore an elected government by 2015.
 
Sisi took the approval of the constitution earlier this month as a vote of confidence for his presidential bid.
 
A parliamentary election had been scheduled ahead of the presidential poll, but Mansour said Sunday he had revised the timetable following many demands.
 
Sisi, accused by Morsi supporters of carrying out a coup ending the Islamist's single year in power, still faces a determined opposition and a semi-insurgency.
 
Hours before Mansour spoke, terrorists ambushed a bus carrying soldiers in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing four, according to AFP.
 
The army vowed in a statement to "eliminate those belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood who call for darkness and dissension and excommunication".
 
The interim government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters.
 
The terror designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100. While Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack, the interim government says there is a connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ongoing terrorist attacks in Egypt.

Mursi yells in court during Egypt prison break trial

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 09:01
Bihand barsFormer Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi appeared in court on Tuesday on charges of breaking out of prison during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
 
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Mursi wore the white prison uniform, unlike his first court appearance in November, in which he wore a suit. The Islamist leader was the country’s first elected civilian president before he was removed in a military-backed uprising in July.
 
Mursi was in a soundproof glass-encased metal cage, pacing and shouting angrily at the judge in apparent disbelief: "Who are you? Tell me!"
 
In a half hour of recorded footage aired on state television, Mursi protested being in a cage, yelling: "Do you know where I am?"
 
The former president also declared to the judges that he remains Egypt's legitimate leader during an unaired portion of the hearing, a state television reporter inside the courtroom said, according to the Associated Press.
 
In aired footage, defendants chanted that their trial was "invalid." Earlier, the defendants turned their back to the court to protest their prosecution, the state television journalist said.
 
Mursi raised his hands in the air and angrily questioned why he was in the court. Judge Shabaan el-Shami responded: "I am the head of Egypt's criminal court!"
 
Mursi paced in a metal cell separated from other defendants. Earlier, a promised live feed was cut, something a senior state television official told local media that security forces demanded
 
The state news agency reported that Mursi flew by helicopter from Borg al-Arab prison in Alexandria, while some 130 others who are on trial with him were driven to Cairo.
 
Previously, Mursi had been under investigation for the January 28, 2011 prison break along with members of the Brotherhood, during the nationwide revolt against Mubarak’s rule.
 
Amid a breakdown in law and order, riots had broken out in several prisons, and thousands of inmates escaped over several days with outside help.
 
Prosecutors say the prisons came under attack by elements from the Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah to free Islamist inmates.
 
Several members of the Palestinian and Lebanese militant groups were imprisoned in Egyptian jails and escaped during the unrest.
 
A lawyer has said the trial appears to be aimed at “denigrating” Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, according to the Associated Press.
 
Tuesday’s trial will be Mursi’s second court appearance since the military led his popularly-backed ouster on July 3.
 
Mursi will also be standing trial for “espionage” involving Hamas and is already on trial for allegedly inciting the killings of opposition activists during his one year in power.

At least 29 killed in Egypt protest clashes

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 25 January 2014 14:15
protest clashes three years laterAt least 29 people were killed in Egypt in street violence Saturday, as Islamists and military supporters staged rival rallies on the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, the health ministry said.
 
Twenty-six of the dead were killed in clashes in Cairo and its suburbs, where Islamists and anti-government protesters fought with police and civilian opponents, ministry spokesman Ahmed Kamel told Agence France-Presse.
 
Police fired tear gas and birdshot at supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi and other anti-government activists as the country marked the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Husni Mubarak.
 
Security sources told Al Arabiya News Channel that at least 33 Muslim Brotherhood supporters had been arrested in Cairo for attacking police forces.
 
Police broke up protests shortly after they began around a Cairo mosque, according to an AFP correspondent.
 
The protesters included both Islamist supporters of ousted Islamist Mursi and activists who accuse Egypt’s army of hijacking the government.
 
Army supporters
 
Security forces lobbed teargas and fired in the air to try to prevent demonstrators opposed to the government from reaching Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled the former air force commander.
 
Instead of commemorating Mubarak’s overthrow, a large number of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir to pledge their support for the army chief who ousted the country's first freely-elected president last year.
 
The chanting for General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi underscored the prevailing desire for a decisive military man they count on to end the political turmoil that has gripped Egypt since the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and crippled the economy.
 
 
A general view of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, during a rally by supporters of Egypt’s army and police on the third anniversary of Egypt’s uprising, January 25, 2014. (Reuters)
 
 
 
Bombings on anniversary day
 
Earlier on Saturday, two bomb blasts were reported in Cairo on Saturday as Egyptians marked the third anniversary of their Jan. 25, 2011 uprising.
 
One bomb exploded near a police academy in Cairo, wounding one person, security sources said.
 
The blast was sparked by what was described as a small "incendiary bomb" lodged on the wall of the police training center and exploded without causing any casualties, a police official told Agence France-Presse. It was thrown by an assailant, who later escaped, the official added.
 
The second blast was reported in Hadaeq al-Quba, a Cairo district. Details of this attack remain unclear.
 
Later afternoon, a car bomb struck a police base in the Egyptian canal city of Suez on Saturday, wounding at least four people in an attack earlier blamed on a rocket.
 
The booby-trapped car exploded on a street next to the base, General Abdel Fattah Othman told the private ONTV television. An police spokesman had earlier said a rocket caused the explosion.
 
Following a string of deadly bomb attacks a day earlier, Egypt on Saturday woke up to the third anniversary of the uprising on a tense note.
 
Claiming responsibility
 
A series of bomb attacks in Cairo and clashes across the country on Friday left at least six people dead and wounded several others. In the most high-profile attack on Friday, a car bomb exploded at a security compound in central Cairo early in the morning and killed at least four people, including three policemen, security sources said.
 
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-inspired Egyptian insurgent group, claimed responsibility on Saturday for the four bombings the day before.
 
In its statement, the group called for Muslims to stay away fom police buildings.
 
Rival political groups in the country are set to mark the 2011 uprising which ended in the overthrow of President Husni Mubarak with planned protests across the country.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has held regular protests since the military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi last July.
 
The Anti-Coup Alliance, led by Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, called in a statement for 18 days of protests beginning on Saturday, mirroring the 18 days of protests that led to Mubarak stepping down in 2011.
 
Relentless turmoil
 
The 2011 revolt raised hopes of a stable democracy in the Arab world's biggest nation. Instead, relentless political turmoil has hit investment and tourism hard in Egypt.
 
The government has said extra security measures are in place for Saturday.
 
"We have a plan to secure all of this for the anniversary of the Jan. 25 revolution," Egyptian Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim said.
 
He urged Egyptians not to be afraid to go to events marking the anniversary. However, earlier this week he warned supporters of the Brotherhood that any attempt to "disrupt" festivities will be dealt with "firmly."
 
Clashes in the capital and several other cities between Mursi supporters and security forces which killed 11 people also raised tensions in the biggest Arab nation.

Egyptian Journalist: We Should Teach Hamas a Lesson

Category: News
Created on Friday, 24 January 2014 11:02
Teach Hamas a LessonEgypt should take a page from Israel’s book and “teach Hamas a lesson,” an Egyptian journalist recently said.
 
The comments by journalist Muhammad Hassan Al-Alfi were made in a January 9 interview on Faraeen TV. The comments were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
 
Al-Alfi said in the interview that Egypt “should discipline [Hamas] just as Israel did... We must strike them so they learn to respect the Egyptian shoe."
 
"Only then will they kiss that shoe and learn what Egypt is worth," he declared.
 
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“Our sons were killed and our economy was ruined in wars fought for their sake. We fought for their sake, and now, they are fighting against us, kidnapping our sons [in Sinai] and killing them,” said Al-Alfi.
 
“The terrorist camps in Gaza must be attacked,” he continued. “The Al-Qassam Brigades, which train them and send them over here, must be attacked. We should discipline them just as Israel did. We should not just retaliate. When you are weak, you get hit. We must strike them so they learn to respect the Egyptian shoe.”
 
Unlike the previous Egyptian government led by Hamas’s parent movement the Muslim Brotherhood, the current army-led government has been cracking down on Hamas, shutting down its tunnels which lead from the Sinai into Gaza. Hamas uses these tunnels to transfer goods, weapons and even terrorists.
 
The crackdown on Hamas is part of an Egyptian operation against the many terrorist cells in the Sinai Peninsula.  Egypt has blamed Hamas of being involved in teaching Islamists in Egypt how to carry out attacks. Hamas has denied the allegations.
 
The interim government in Cairo recently declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization and renewed its wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters. Sources in Egypt indicated last week that now that the Egyptian military has taken care of the Brotherhood, its offshoot Hamas was next.

Massive Explosions Rock Cairo's Police HQ

Category: News
Created on Friday, 24 January 2014 10:29
Cairo NDP headquarters burnsThe Egyptian capital of Cairo has been shaken by a massive explosion. The blast, originating from a car bomb detonated right next to the city's police headquarters, was powerful enough to destroy much of the structure of the building.
 
Egypt's health ministry reports at least 4 killed and 51 injured. The blast also damaged the nearby Islamic Museum and National Library.
 
The bombing, which took place at 6:30 a.m., left the center of Cairo enveloped in smoke, reports Al Arabiya. Gunshots were also reported to have been heard in nearby buildings following the explosion.
 
A second explosion was later reported in Cairo's Dokki district, targeting a subway station.
 
The bombings come a day before the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. On Thursday, 5 policemen were shot dead by masked gunmen on motorcycles.
 
The attacks also come on the heels of a constitutional referendum that passed overwhelmingly last Thursday, which promised a "democratic transition" by the interim military government, and which was boycotted by ousted President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
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The vote stirred up the conflict anew between the military and the Brotherhood, as terrorists in Sinai blew up a gas pipeline immediately afterwards.
 
Army Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took the referendum as a vote of confidence for his presidential bid, that was recently backed by Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi.

Sisi Preparing Electoral Agenda

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 20:38
Abdel Fattah al-SisiEgypt’s army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is preparing the electoral agenda he will present to the country when he announces his candidacy for the presidency, Al-Arabiya reported on Monday, citing the Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan.
 
According to the report, Sisi is consulting with three prominent officials regarding his decision to run for the presidency.
 
Sisi, 59, has been tipped to become the country’s next president and while he is yet to announce his nomination, speculation is rife.
 
According to the daily, when announcing the news of his candidacy, Sisi will also announce a developmental and economic plan that begins from Upper Egypt and the Sinai.
 
The report added that Sisi himself is developing the plan which includes urgent measures to resolve problems in these areas.
 
In the speech he will deliver to announce his candidacy which, according to Al-Watan, he will write himself, Sisi is also set to discuss environmental issues.
 
Sisi has gained wide popularity across the country since he led the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood last July.
 
He recently said he would run for president if the people demand it and the military supports him. Many speculated that his decision to run would be influenced by the results of last week’s referendum on the new constitution.
 
On Sunday it was reported that Egyptian voters had approved the new constitution by an overwhelming majority of 98.1 percent, though voter turnout had only been 38.6 percent out of 53 million registered voters.
 
Nevertheless, the approval of the constitution is likely to give Sisi the boost he needs to announce his candidacy.
 
Al-Arabiya noted that many political parties, including the Tamarod youth movement which led the June 30 protests that led to Morsi’s ouster, also support Sisi becoming a candidate for presidency.

Egypt Tells Hamas to Stop Attacks

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 12:01
Buses preparing to carry terrorist prisonersEgypt has reportedly been talking to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza in recent days, in an attempt to get them to stop attacking Israeli civilians with rockets.
 
A senior Islamic Jihad source, quoted by Voice of Israel public radio, said Tuesday that his group, like Hamas, does not seek an escalation of the conflict with Israel. He told Al Hayyat that senior-level Egyptians had been communicating with senior members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in an attempt to “stabilize the calm.”
 
The source added that Israel ad transmitted a warning to the terrorists in Gaza, that if rocket fire from Gaza does not stop, there will be an immediate and harsh escalation.
 
He explained that Egypt has a particular interest in Gaza because events there directly influence the situation in Egypt. Voice of Israel said that Hamas has deployed its forces along the border with Israel and in possible launching zones throughout Gaza, to try and prevent rocket fire at the Jewish state.

Sinai Terrorists Blow Up Natural Gas Pipeline

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 19 January 2014 06:02
Flames rise from an Egyptian pipeline ReutersA security official in Egypt said on Friday that terrorists have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula.
 
According to The Associated Press (AP), the official said a strong explosion rocked a village in central Sinai called el-Riysan, after explosives were planted beneath the gas pipeline connected to cement factories in the area.
 
The official said there were no casualties. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists.
 
Gas pipelines in Egypt has been attacked more than a dozen times since the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The last attack took place a little over two weeks ago.
 
Some of the attacks targeted a pipeline that supplied gas to Jordan and Israel, forcing Egypt to halt supplies to these two countries. Since that time Israel has begun to become more dependent on its own natural gas, so Egypt's abrupt cancellation of its contract to sell gas to Israel a year ago was, while very expensive for Israelis in the short run, not as damaging as Israelis initially feared in the longer run.
 
The constant terror attacks in the Sinai have only increased since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
The group spearheading the attacks, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, is inspired by Al-Qaeda. It has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
Most recently the group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others. Egypt also fingered Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood for this attack and branded the group a terrorist organization.

Egypt: over 98% voted for new constitution

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 18 January 2014 15:01
2014 refrendomMore than 98 percent of Egyptians voted “yes” for a new constitution in a referendum, authorities said on Saturday.
 
 The turnout was lower than some officials had predicted, with just over a third of the electorate taking part.
 
Voters supported the constitution by 98.1 percent, said the head of the supreme election committee, Nabil Salib.
 
A total of 38.6 percent of eligible voters took part, he told reporters.
 
On Thursday, an Interior Ministry official said the turnout appeared to be more than 55 percent in what was the first vote since the toppling of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi in July.
 
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called for anti-government protests and a boycott of last week’s vote, seeing it as part of a coup against the country‘s freely-elected leader.
 
The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan the interim government has billed as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood.
 
An Egyptian newspaper on Saturday reported that Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour will announce that presidential elections will be held in March.
 
Al Tahrir newspaper quoted Essam Eddine Abdel Aziz, first deputy to the head of the State Council, as saying that President Mansour will call on Egyptians to take part in presidential elections.
 
Clashes on Friday
 
On Friday, at least four people were killed in clashes between Brotherhood supporters and police across the country.
 
One man was killed by a gunshot wound to the neck in the city of Fayoum, south of Cairo, a local health ministry official told Reuters.
 
Three people were killed in clashes in the Cairo area, the security sources said. Two were shot and the circumstances of the other death were unclear.
 
Supporters of the Brotherhood also clashed with security forces in the city of Suez, MENA reported, as well as in Ismailia and a number of locations in the capital, security sources said.

Hamas Terrorists Showcase 'Bravery' - by Playing Chicken

Category: News
Created on Friday, 17 January 2014 16:41
Hamas test of courageThe Hamas terrorist organization is holding a string of events in Gaza to commemorate Operation Cast Lead, the counter-terror operation held December 2008 to January 2009. The terror group, which recently restated its genocidal threats against Israel, is celebrating its "victory" during the fighting, which ended in an uneasy cease fire.
 
The operation, which Hamas calls the "War of Clay Stone," ended in a brokered cease fire monitored by Egypt, which recently has called to list Hamas as a terrorist group given several attacks and attempted attacks by Hamas-backed insurgents on Egyptian police headquarters and churches on Christmas.
 
A military exercise of Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military branch, was among the ongoing ceremonies and events. Video from the exercise shows a "test of courage" as terrorists "played chicken" with an oncoming military truck, ducking underneath it at the last moment:
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At the conclusion of the test, an announcer can be heard declaring "these are the heroes, these are the heroes."
 
Reports from Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) indicate that Hamas will attempt to extend its influence into Judea and Samaria in 2014, becoming more of a security threat to Israel. Hamas also announced its intentions for reconciliation with rival Fatah, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's faction, this year. it remains to be seen what will come of that declaration, however, given that past statements announcing reconciliation have fallen flat.
 
In an ominous sign, Hamas has apparently been gathering long-range rockets as of late, and Gaza terrorists two weeks ago test fired a new long-range M-175 missile capable of striking north of Tel Aviv.

Egypt Overtaking Saudis As Most Conservative

Category: Islam
Created on Friday, 17 January 2014 09:33
women covering their facesA recent survey of 7 Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries has revealed conflicting viewpoints in Saudi Arabia, a country that doesn't let women drive and is often considered one of the most repressive nations in terms of women's rights.
 
While nearly 2 out of 3 in Saudi Arabia think women should cover all but their eyes in public, nearly 50% say women should choose how they dress. The latter figure is close to the response in more liberal Lebanon with its large Christian population, and is far more permissive than Iraq, Pakistan or Egypt.
 
Mansoor Moaddel, lead author of the survey published by the Middle Eastern Values Study at the University of Michigan, claims to CNN that the results show Saudia Arabia has "a considerable liberal leaning."
 
"Saudi has had a religious government for a long time," stated Moaddel. "People tend to develop an oppositional attitude."
 
While Saudi Arabia recently allowed its first female lawyer, the nation's religious police enforcing Sharia law have a far from stellar record on women's rights. In March 2002, religious police stopped schoolgirls from escaping a burning school in Mecca because they were not wearing headscarves and black robes, nor were they accompanied by a man. As a result, 15 girls died and 50 were injured.
 
Moaddel argues that Egypt is the most conservative of the Muslim nations, as only 14% there said women should choose their dress, the lowest results among the 7 nations.
 
Furthermore, 19 in 20 Egyptians said a women should be required to obey her husband, the highest result in that question.
 
The findings back research last November which placed Egypt the lowest in the Arab world in terms of women's rights, with Saudi Arabia coming in third worst. A UN report last April found that 99.3% of Egyptian women and girls had been sexually harassed.
 
However, Moaddel assesses the Egyptian position as being sexist without relation to Islam. "The problem with Egypt is not just religion, it is an intellectual trend," said the researcher, adding "Egyptians have become more sexist in the past decade. They have become less religious, less supportive of Sharia (Islamic law), but on the issue of gender, more conservative."
 
The survey found that the generally agreed mode of dress for women in public among the 7 Muslim nations consisted of a tight white headscarf covering everything but the face.
 
Interviews with 2,005 people in Saudi Arabia and at least 3,000 in each of the 6 other countries made up the data for the survey.

Egyptian Official Hints Constitution was Overwhelmingly Approved

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 16 January 2014 08:17
Egyptians poll for Constitution referendomEgyptian voters have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution in a referendum held over the past two days, an Interior Ministry official said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
 
"Turnout so far may exceed 55 percent and the approval of the constitution is perhaps more than 95 percent," Major General Abdel Fattah Othman, director of public relations for the ministry, was quoted as having told private satellite channel Al-Hayat.
 
He was citing preliminary results of the two-day vote that ended at 9:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday. An overwhelming approval of the new constitution could pave the way for popular army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to announce his candidacy for president.
 
After polls closed, Al Jazeera quoted state radio as having said that 28 percent of voters participated in the first day of voting. Voters said the lines were shorter than during the 2012 referendum, but there were also more than twice as many polling stations, which should result in shorter queues.
 
Visits to polling stations, noted Al Jazeera, suggest that second-day turnout was lower. A queue in the upscale Zamalek district that stretched for two blocks on Tuesday had just four voters on Wednesday afternoon.
 
There were no reports of violence on Wednesday, in contrast to Tuesday when at least 11 people were killed in clashes across the country, and a bomb damaged a courthouse in Cairo two hours before polls opened.
 
Police arrested one man in Cairo for writing "no to military trials" on his ballot, according to Al Jazeera.
 
Final results will be announced within 72 hours, according to the high electoral commission.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by Sisi and the military in July and which has been since branded a terrorist group, called for a boycott of the vote.
 
The revised charter preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases. This has angered secular groups that backed the military in ousting Morsi.
 
Other articles include one stipulating that Islamic Sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.
 
Another main article of the new charter forbids the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds.

Egypt: Prison Sentences for 63 Brotherhood Supporters

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:37
Muslim protests63 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt were sentenced Thursday to three years in jail on charges including rioting, thuggery and weapons possession, Al Arabiya reports.
 
It was the largest number of Brotherhood supporters sentenced in one case since the army-backed authorities began cracking down on the movement after former President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in July.
 
The judge set a bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($720) which allows those sentenced to avoid prison while they appeal the verdict. The ruling also includes a fine of 50,000 pounds per person, according to the report.
 
In a different part of Cairo, another 24 Brotherhood supporters were also sentenced to three years in prison, with labor, over clashes.
 
The charges against them included rioting, illegal gathering, attacking the police and belonging to an armed terrorist gang.
 
The government accuses the Brotherhood of turning to violence since the army deposed Morsi after mass protests against his rule. The group says it is committed to peaceful protest.
 
Tensions in Egypt have increased in recent weeks, especially after the interim government blacklisted Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and re-launched its wide-ranging crackdown on the group. 
 
In response to the blacklist, the Muslim Brotherhood has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the military-ruled government.
 
Meanwhile, Morsi’s trial on charges of inciting murder of protesters was postponed on Wednesday until February 1 after officials said that bad weather had prevented him being flown to court, according to Al Arabiya.
 
Morsi is to face three different trials: Prosecutors have announced he will also stand trial for espionage involving Hamas as well as for organizing prison breaks with the help of foreign groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Egyptian Officials Kidnapped in the Sinai

Category: News
Created on Monday, 13 January 2014 12:25
An armoured personnel carrier positioned outside Ramses Square near al-Fath mosque in Cairo ReutersAn Egyptian labor ministry official and three trade union activists were kidnapped in the Sinai on Tuesday, the ministry said, according to AFP.
 
Local police were investigating whether Sinai terrorists were behind the abduction, the report said.
 
Meanwhile in Cairo, assailants threw a bomb and opened fire on a small traffic police station without causing casualties, security officials told the news agency.
 
It was the latest in a string of militant attacks on security forces following the overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
Much of the violence has taken place in Sinai, where the officials were abducted while en route to a conference in the southern resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
 
Police found their abandoned car near the resort, labor ministry spokesman Alaa el-Din Mohamed told AFP.
 
An interior ministry official said police were investigating the kidnappings.
 
The Sinai has become increasingly lawless since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and the terror attacks have only increased since the removal of his successor, Mohammed Morsi.
 
The Egyptian armed forces have launched large scale military operations against terrorists in Sinai in an attempt to suppress the insurgency. The terror groups have hit back - a torrent of attacks by gangs of Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic terrorists have killed many Egyptian soldiers and policemen since Morsi's overthrow.
 
In September, Egypt’s Interior Minister survived an assassination attempt. The attempted assassination occurred as a car bomb ripped through the his convoy as he was leaving home for work.
 
Tensions in Egypt have increased in recent weeks, especially after the interim government blacklisted Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and launched a wide-ranging crackdown on the group. 
 
In response to the blacklist, the Muslim Brotherhood has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the military-ruled government.

Dr. Ashraf Ramelah with special guests calling in from Cairo

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 12 January 2014 13:31
www.lisabensonradioshow.comLIVE FROM ANYWHERE! CLICK TO www.lisabensonradioshow.com to click via computer or use radio and/or SMARTPHONE app. KKNT 960 the Patriot.
 
Special Guest: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah with special guests calling in from Cairo toDr. Ashraf Ramelah discuss the daily rioting by Muslim Brotherhood and potential for civil war in Egypt. 
 
Also Sarah Stern, President and Founder, Endowment for Middle East Truth. The Summary of demands by Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama Administration setting the stage for April "Peace Talks." These preliminary discussions have key demands: 
1) Palestinian refugees have the right to return. But how many? 
 
2) Jews to give up all that was acquired in 1967 - all of Judea Samaria - including the Western Wall - Kerry suggests that Jews/Israelis will be "allowed" to the Wall at certain times; 
 
stern sarah3) Foreign Troops to be placed in the Jordan Valley. Sarah knows this stuff backwards and forwards and will explain TOMORROW LIVE

Egypt: 3 killed in clashes ahead of referendum

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 11 January 2014 09:19
police vehicle on fire during clashes with terrorists at Nasr City district in Cairo ReutersThree people were killed in in Egypt on Friday in clashes between Islamist protesters and security forces four days before a planned referendum a controversial draft constitution.
 
A police officer said a street vendor was shot dead in clashes between Mursi’s Islamist supporters and civilian opponents in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
 
Police arrested the shooter and identified him as a member of Mursi’s banned Muslim Brotherhood, the officer said, adding that 25 demonstrators were also rounded up.
 
Two people were also killed in the canal city of Suez where clashes broke out between Brotherhood supporters, police and residents opposed to the Islamists, medics and security officials said.
 
The Islamists held rallies in several cities demanding the reinstatement of Mursi, who the military ousted in July following mass protests demanding his resignation.
 
The interior ministry said police arrested 169 suspected protesters countrywide.
 
The Islamists have organised near daily protests since Morsi’s overthrow, often clashing with police and civilian opponents.
 
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood has called for a boycott of the Jan. 14 and 15 referendum, which is also seen by some as a vote on army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s popularity.
 
Sisi overthrew Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule and could yet run for president of the Arab world’s biggest country.
 
The Brotherhood says Sisi’s overthrow of Mursi constituted a coup which undermined democratic gains made since a 2011 popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
 
The referendum is the first milestone in a political transformation that Sisi has said would lead to presidential and parliamentary elections and bring stability to Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the Suez Canal.
 
But Islamist militants have stepped up attacks on security forces since Mursi’s ouster, and street violence has continued, conditions which have decimated investment and tourism.

Muslim Brotherhood Complains to International Criminal Court

Category: News
Created on Friday, 10 January 2014 06:13
Attempted assassination of Egypts Internal MinisterAfter months of protests and bloodshed, the Muslim Brotherhood has taken yet another step against the Egyptian military, which ousted its president, Mohammed Morsi, last July: it has filed a complaint against it with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
 
AFP reported Monday that lawyers for the terrorist group submitted a request by Morsi to make the ICC the ruling power in Egypt - even though Egypt is not a signatory and Morsi is no longer in power. 
 
They also submitted complaints detailing the military's "crimes" against the Brotherhood, in its wide-ranging crackdown on the group. 
 
"The message must be sent out clearly to the Egyptian military regime that it runs the risk of prosecution. This is what the declaration accepting the jurisdiction aims to achieve," attorney John Dugard stated to AFP.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood is already the subject of a court ban by an Egyptian court, following the ouster of the Islamist Morsi. The ban on the group accompanied a campaign by security forces to crush the Islamist movement in which hundreds of its members have been killed and thousands arrested.
 
Egypt has also frozen the assets of senior leaders of the movement and has arrested dozens of its members since Morsi’s removal, including most of its leadership.
 
The Brotherhood, despite being blacklisted as a terrorist group by the Egyptian government, has denied again and again that it has anything to do with terror in Egypt and the Sinai desert.  The news comes just hours after reports surfaced that the Brotherhood had planned to recruit a "Revolutionary Guard" capable of enforcing the Brotherhood's rule by force - modeled after the powerful Guard in Iran. 

Today Copts celebrate Christmas

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 12:27
Adley and PopeJust one week after the Orthodox Church celebrates Eastern Christmas on January 7, Coptic Egyptians will turn out at the polls to ratify or strike down Egypt’s new constitution draft. If voters approve it Egypt will have a constitution slightly more liberal than Morsi’s but stricter (more religious) than Mubarak’s. As bomb-sniffing dogs prepare the safety of voting polls housed inside thousands of schools across Egypt, Copts must get ready to endorse or reject Islamic Shariah law as the source of Egypt’s laws. 
 
Twenty-plus million Copts of which about 20 percent are eligible to vote next week on January 14 and 15, make up a part of the larger constituency of more than 30 million pro-democracy freedom fighters that, along with the military’s backing, brought Morsi’s Brotherhood-backed government to its knees last summer. It is only natural now that Egyptian freedom fighters face supremacist doctrine embodied in the new constitution drafted by an assembly not representative of the people.   
 
As bad as the draft looks for the possibility of equality and freedom to materialize in Egypt, there is hope in the resolve and tenacity of Egyptians who may now feel protected enough by the actions of a military leader seen as sincere to vote according to the values represented by their fight. Furthermore, there are promising signs of a hardcore purge of the Muslim Brotherhood organization recently designated as a terror group by Egypt’s interim government, along with other interesting and positive signs for the country. For instance, Interim President, Adly Monsour, paid a visit to the Coptic Pope’s official residence two days ago to extend his personal Christmas greeting to the head of the Orthodox Church – a first in Egypt’s history. How do Egyptians view this unprecedented event? 
 
The visit is seen in optimistic terms as a genuine act of respect conducted by the President of Egypt on behalf of the country toward Coptic citizens – a true turning point for Copts (who to this point have been completely ignored by Egypt’s presidents on Christian holidays) to connect with Muslim leaders across the board who finally recognize the significance of Coptic fidelity, passion and participation. The Imam of Al Azhar’s representative visited the Pope a few days ago, Army General Al Sisi sent his greeting to the Pope, various ministers sent greetings, and the last Egyptian king, King Fuaad, (who was dethroned at age two in 1952) sent the Pope a message of goodwill. 
 
All this appears to be a move toward openness, respect and a new diplomacy. Meanwhile, the stern voices of Islam (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi) forbid such acknowledgments. But as their fanatical resistance is ignored, it is not to say that empowering Islam and maintaining its dominance have been forsaken. A new draft constitution disregarding equality and religious rights in favor of Islamic religious law now awaits approval.     
 
From the Coptic point of view these overtures feel right and are a far cry from past Christmases marred by bloodshed committed by Muslim thugs motivated by jihad with the blind eye of law enforcement and the courts. This is a major step toward basic decency, if not equality. However, in spite of this pleasantry, Copts have a legitimate fear of attending churches regarded as potential targets on the most sacred of days. Law enforcement is utilizing bomb-sniffing dogs at churches across Egypt to prevent terror attacks.  

Brotherhood Leader Planned an Egyptian 'Revolutionary Guard'

Category: News
Created on Monday, 06 January 2014 23:24
Khairat al-Shater Muslim Brotherhoods leader ReutersOne of the leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood planned to establish a “Revolutionary Guard” modeled after Iran’s elite military unit, Al Arabiya reported on Monday.
 
The report cited a former member of Al-Qaeda who spoke to an Egyptian TV channel.
 
The man, Mohammad Tawfic, said that Khairat al-Shater, the one-time deputy Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, planned to recruit Islamist youths who would be trained as a separate military unit rivaling Egypt’s existing army, to resemble a force similar to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards.
 
“Shater was planning to establish a national defense college and recruit 50 thousand youths, including 30 thousand from the Islamic movements, and 20 thousand from Al-Qaeda through [al-Qaeda chief] al-Zawahiri,” said Tawfic in an interview with Al-Mehwar, a private satellite channel.
 
“This college would have fresh graduates every six months and become like the [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard, pledging full loyalty to the president,” he added.
 
Shater was the Brotherhood’s original candidate for the presidential elections in Egypt, but was disqualified by the election commission, and the Brotherhood named Mohammed Morsi as its candidate instead.
 
Shortly after Morsi was toppled by the Egyptian army in July, Shater, along with most other senior Brotherhood figures were detained by the interim government’s security forces.
 
The already tense situation in Egypt has deteriorated in the past week, since the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters.
 
The government has renewed its wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters since the group was designated as a terrorist organization.

Egyptian Lawsuit: Declare Hamas a Terror Group

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 January 2014 18:51
Hamass Chief of StaffAn Egyptian lawyer, Samir Sabri, has filed a lawsuit against Egypt's president, prime minister and minister of interior, demanding that they declare Hamas a terror organization.
 
The newspaper Al-Wafd reported that Sabri's suit says Hamas has become a terror group and that it has maintained tight ties with the organization that spawned it, “the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.”
 
Sabri listed the terrorist actions that Hamas has carried out against Egypt, including breaking down the barrier between Egypt and Gaza in 2008, breaking into Egyptian jails in 2011 and releasing Hamas aterrorist prisoners, involvement in blowing up the gas pipeline in Sinai, the capture of Hamas man Hamed Mahmoud Salameh with a firebomb at Tahrir Square, and Hamas's involvement in attacking military targets in Sinai.
 
Sabri added that Hamas members are concentrated in the northern provinces of Sinai because of the group's close ties with local tribes and clans, and that the largest funders of Sinai terror actions are connected with Hamas's leadership.
 
The lawyer charged that Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat coordinates terror attacks against the Egyptian army from Hamas bases, and that Egyptian intelligence has found that Ezzat transferred a million dollars that he received from the Muslim Brotherhood's international organization to jihadist groups in Sinai and to senior members of the Brotherhood, to be used for striking at police and military forces.

Egypt's Sisi to Run for President

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 January 2014 14:30
1General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defence minister AFPEgypt's deputy prime minister and defense minister, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is expected to step down in the coming days to pave the way for his nomination in the upcoming presidential elections, Gulf News reported on Saturday.
 
The report cited the Egyptian Al Wafd newspaper, which said that Sisi’s exit will be part of a government reshuffle in the second half of January that will also see vice president Ziyad Baha’ Al Deen leave his post.
 
The paper cited "political sources with connections to ruling circles", adding that the country’s Supreme Council for the Armed Forces decided in a meeting on Tuesday to select Lt. Gen. Sidqi Subhi to replace Sisi as defense minister.
 
The local pro-military channel CBC aired a breaking news report on Saturday night revealing that Sisi had decided to run for presidency, according to Gulf News.
 
Sisi led the military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 3. The military-installed interim government subsequently launched a fierce campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs, leading to violent clashes that have resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand civilians.
 
Prominent presidential hopefuls have lent their support to Sisi’s candidacy, offering to drop plans to run if he decides to, according to Gulf News.
 
According to Egyptian media reports, Sisi is expected to announce his bid for the presidency following a referendum on the country’s new constitution.
 
The already tense situation in Egypt has deteriorated in the past week, since the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters.
 
The terror designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
The Mansoura attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, but Egypt’s government has said that there is a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ongoing terrorism in the country.
 
In addition to cracking down on Brotherhood protesters, the interim government has also confiscated the assets of more than 500 of its leaders.

Egypt Summons Qatari Ambassador Amid Row Over Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 05 January 2014 08:36
Morsi supporters clash with riot police in Cairo - ReutersEgypt summoned the Qatari ambassador in Cairo on Saturday, following concerns expressed by the Gulf state over the crackdown on Islamist demonstrators, reported Al Arabiya.
 
“The Qatari ambassador was summoned over a statement by the Qatari foreign ministry,” Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty was quoted as having said.
 
In a statement earlier on Saturday, Qatar had said the recent decision to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group was “a prelude to a shoot-to-kill policy” against demonstrators.
 
“The decision to designate popular political movements as terrorist organizations, and labeling peaceful demonstrations as terrorism, did not succeed in stopping the peaceful protests,” the statement said, according to Al Arabiya.
 
“It was only a prelude to a shoot-to-kill policy on demonstrators,” the statement published by state news agency QNA said, adding that “inclusive dialogue” between all sides was the only solution to Egypt’s crisis.
 
The already tense situation in Egypt has deteriorated in the past week, since the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters. The government has been engaging in a wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters.
 
Tensions have mounted between Qatar and Egypt since the July 2013 ouster of Egypt’s former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, whom Qatar firmly supported.
 
Egypt accuses Qatar and its Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel of backing the Muslim Brotherhood. Last week, Egypt’s general prosecutor detained several journalists for 15 days for broadcasting graphics on Al Jazeera, alleging that they damaged Egypt’s reputation.
 
In the latest violence, 17 people were shot dead as supporters of the Brotherhood clashed with police across Egypt on Friday. The protesters had been defying a widening state crackdown on the movement that ruled the country until six months ago.

Bloody Friday Kills 11 Across Egypt

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 January 2014 18:18
Morsi supporters clash with riot police in Cairo - ReutersA bloody Friday in Egypt has claimed the lives of at least 11 protesters in Cairo and several other cities, Al Arabiya reported.
 
Clashes broke out between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Egyptian security forces throughout Egypt, said the report.
 
One demonstrator was shot dead by police in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia after a march set off from a mosque after midday prayers.
 
In the rural province of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, a protester died from a bullet wound to the head.
 
Fighting spread through heavily populated residential areas in several cities and provinces including Cairo, Giza, Ismailia, and Alexandria, as dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters threw rocks at security forces who responded with water cannons and tear gas.
 
Brotherhood supporters have been holding daily protests since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, was ousted by the military in July.
 
More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed since July 3 when he was ousted and authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The tensions deepened last week when the interim Egyptian government blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a "terrorist organization".
 
The terror designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
The government has been engaging in a wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters, which began even before the terror group designation.
 
On Tuesday, Egyptian officials seized the assets of at least 500 Brotherhood leaders. On Monday, three Al-Jazeera journalists were arrested on charges of meeting with Brotherhood officials. 

Morsi's Third Trial to Begin January 28

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 January 2014 16:03
Mohammed Morsi in jialAn Egyptian judge said on Thursday that January 28 has been set as opening day for the third trial of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
The ousted president faces several trials, and this one is related to charges of organizing prison breaks with the help of foreign groups.
 
Judge Medhat Idriss said the Cairo Appeals Court set the date Thursday. The charges for the third trial were announced in late December.
 
The jailbreaks took place during the January 2011 uprising against Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
 
Morsi was jailed in Cairo at the time and escaped with more than 30 others, while more than 20,000 inmates escaped from prisons across Egypt, including members of Hezbollah and Hamas.
 
Prosecutors claim that Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and other jihadists attacked prisons and police stations during the first few days of the revolt against Mubarak, killing policemen and helping thousands of inmates escape.
 
The ousted president is already on trial for allegedly inciting the killings of opposition activists during his one year in power and prosecutors have announced he will also stand trial for espionage involving Hamas.
 
AP noted that most of the charges which Morsi faces carry the death penalty.
 
More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed since July 3 when he was ousted and authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Last week, the temporary government in Cairo blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a "terrorist organization".
 
The terror designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.

Egypt Probes Telecoms Company Over Alleged 'Terror Ad'

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 January 2014 15:44
VodafoneEgyptian prosecutors are probing Telecoms giant Vodafone over claims a company advertisement featuring a popular Muppet-like character contains coded messages calling for terrorist attacks, company executives said Thursday, according to AFP.
 
Vodafone Egypt says the advert, featuring the puppet Abla (Aunt) Fahita, is merely a marketing tool and has no hidden message or meaning.
 
The case stems from claims by a political activist who calls himself Ahmed Spider, who said, according to AFP, that next week's Coptic "Christmas day will be a bitter day because of explosions (planned) by anarchists with the help of (ousted president Mohammed) Morsi's supporters."
 
Copts, who make up the majority of Christians in Egypt, celebrate Christmas on January 7.
 
In his remarks to private television channel Tahrir, Spider said the four branches of a cactus used as a Christmas tree in the advert symbolize the four-finger Islamist salute used by Morsi's supporters.
 
Spider, an avid supporter of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, also said an ornamental ball dangling from the tree represents a bomb, while stuffed turkey breasts spoken of in the commercial symbolize "car bombs."
 
On Wednesday, prosecutors summoned Vodafone executives for questioning following the complaint, reported AFP.
 
"Our marketing director went with our lawyer to the prosecution," Noha Saad, head of Vodafone's public relations told the news agency on Thursday.
 
"The prosecution heard their statements in response to the complaint filed by Ahmed Spider. There were no accusations by the prosecution. They are in the phase of gathering information."
 
Speaking on another show broadcast by private television channel CBC, Spider also accused "British intelligence services" of being behind it all.
 
The advert is for an offer under which Vodafone customers can re-activate their old SIM cards.
 
A company statement said "any other explanations are pure fiction and personal opinions of some viewers and Vodafone is not liable for the personal attitudes and interpretations that are far from reality."
 
The latest controversy highlights the tense atmosphere prevailing in Egypt since the military ousted Morsi in July, following mass protests calling him to step down.
 
It also comes amid a volatile security situation, with Egypt shaken by nearly daily terrorist attacks on security forces in the restive Sinai Peninsula and an ongoing crackdown on Morsi's supporters.
 
The already tense situation in Egypt has deteriorated in the past week, since the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters.
 
On Tuesday, Egyptian officials seized the assets of at least 500 Brotherhood leaders. On Monday, three Al-Jazeera journalists were arrested on charges of meeting with Brotherhood officials. 
 
Egypt has also brought Hamas, the terror group which controls Gaza and is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, into the mix, and has accused it of being involved in the bombing of police headquarters in Mansoura last Monday that killed 16.

Egypt Accuses Hamas of Attack that Killed 16

Category: News
Created on Friday, 03 January 2014 15:28
Hamas terroristsMohamed Ibrahim, Egypt's Interior Minister, on Thursday accused Hamas of being involved in the bombing of police headquarters in Mansoura last Monday that killed 16.
 
Ibrahim announced that seven suspects have been apprehended, including Muslim Brotherhood members. The minister further said the bombers received logistical support from Hamas, detailing Muslim Brotherhood connections with the Gazan terror group, reports Al-Ahram.
 
Several of the arrested Muslim Brotherhood members entered Gaza through tunnels, according to Ibrahim, and there received training.
 
On Wednesday, analyst Mark Langfan noted Hamas's involvement in the Mansoura attack, arguing that Egypt needs to fight against Hamas in order to secure itself.
 
Egypt's interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi previously declared the Mansoura attack an act of terrorism, pledging that "the state will do its utmost to pursue the criminals who executed, planned and supported that attack."
 
Ousted President Mohammed Morsi has been charged with involvement in Hamas terror attacks. Ibrahim asserted that the "Brotherhood allied with the extremist groups during Morsi's one-year-rule."
 
For its part, Hamas has denied involvement in any attacks in Egypt, with spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri saying "the accusations of involvement in the Mansoura bombing are an attempt to export the internal Egyptian crisis."
 
However, reports recently revealed that Hamas planned attacks on Egyptian Christians in Sinai, timed to occur on Christmas.
 
A referendum on Egypt's constitution is set to be held in mid January, as tension is mounting along the divide between the military and Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt: 96 artifacts missing from museum

Category: Archeology and History
Created on Friday, 03 January 2014 07:10
Malawi Museum File- ReutersNearly a hundred small artifacts, some dating back to the time of the pharaohs, have gone missing from a museum in southern Egypt, officials said Wednesday.
 
The Ministry of Antiquities said 96 artifacts, mostly small figurines and beads, disappeared from the Aswan Museum's storehouse.
 
Employees noticed a number of artifacts missing, the statement said. A committee looking into the objects' disappearance checked the storehouse's inventory and found that the lock on the inner door had been broken.
 
Officials in Aswan said the disappearance was a first for the museum, which hasn't experienced the thefts that have plagued some other museums around the country throughout the unrest of the past three years. They said evidence pointed to an insider theft.
 
They spoke anonymously as they weren't authorized to brief the press. 
 
Egypt's ancient treasures have suffered during the aftermath of the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. During the 18 days of protest that led to Mubarak stepping down, 51 pieces were stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, located on the edge of Tahrir Square, the center of the uprising. Some have been recovered.
 
Not long after Mubarak left office on Feb, 11, 2011, a Jordanian man was caught trying to smuggle as many as 3,753 artifacts including pharaonic statues, Roman coins, and medieval jewelry out of the country, according to earlier statements by Interior Ministry officials.
 
There have also been a number of break-ins at antiquity storehouses around the country. In one of the largest thefts, in the city of Qantara on the Sinai peninsula, roughly 800 artifacts were damaged or stolen, with some subsequently recovered.
 
Located next to ruins on the tip of Elephantine Island in the Nile in Egypt's southernmost city, the Aswan Museum holds artifacts from the southern region of Nubia.

Hamas Planned Church Bombings on Christmas

Category: Reports
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 22:32
Savages in action in EgyptHamas and the Muslim Brotherhood planned a series of bombings at Egyptian churches, according to a report in the Kuwaiti paper Al-Watan, according to Channel 10 news.
 
According to the report, the attacks were to take place on Christmas. Terrorists in Sinai had succeeded in gathering explosives for the planned attack.
 
Egyptian intelligence reportedly foiled the plot after discovering communications between the two groups. Intelligence agents also listened in on calls between the Muslim Brotherhood and other Gaza-based terrorist groups.
 
The calls revealed plans to transfer weapons to armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula via smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
 
Egyptian authorities have accused the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas of working hand-in-hand on several past occasions as well. Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is awaiting trial for charges relating to alleged cooperation with Hamas in an attack on Egyptian soldiers.
 
Terrorists in Gaza have been known to be working with armed rebels in the Sinai region since the beginning of a major terrorist insurgency in the region several months ago. Local Islamist leaders have declared the Egyptian army “an enemy of Allah.”
 
While rebels in Sinai have primarily targeted the Egyptian army, attacks on Christians in the country are nothing new. Coptic Christians in Egypt have repeatedly been victimized in violence between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and state troops.
 
Although Christians in Egypt have apparently been spared a deadly attack by Islamists, some 35 people were killed in a bombing attack against a church in Iraq on Christmas day. The Middle East's Christian population - which has existed since before the founding of Islam - has been steadily declining in the past few years, in great part due to a rise in radical Islam. Israel is the only country in the region with a growing Christian population.

Egypt: Tear Gas, Water Cannons Fired at Pro-Brotherhood Protest

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 16:59
Egypt-clashesEgyptian officials continued their crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood Wednesday, firing tear gas and water cannons at a student demonstration in Cairo. 
 
Egyptian state media reported that about 300 pro-Brotherhood students blocked a road near the Defense Ministry, chanting anti-police and anti-government slogans. When the protesters refused to move, anti-rioting tactics were used, officials say - including tear gas and water cannons. 
 
Police also fired tear gas on student protesters from the state's main university in the Nile Delta city of Zakazik, the hometown of ousted President and Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi, according to Reuters. Hundreds of protesters have been killed since Morsi's ouster in July - many of them students. 
 
Last week, the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters. The government has been engaging in a wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters.
 
This week has been particularly tumultuous. Earlier Wednesday, Egyptian officials seized the assets of at least 500 Brotherhood leaders. On Monday, 3 Al-Jazeera journalists were arrested on charges of meeting with Brotherhood officials. 

Again: Sinai Terrorists Hit Gas Pipeline

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 08:28
Gas pipeline explosionTerrorists in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday blew up a gas pipeline that feeds an industrial area in the region, security officials said, according to AFP.
 
The officials said there were no injuries in blast that targeted the domestic pipeline.
 
The gas pipeline in Egypt has been attacked more than a dozen times since the revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
The initial attacks forced Egypt to halt gas supplies to Israel and Jordan. Since that time Israel has begun to become more dependent on its own natural gas, so Egypt's abrupt cancellation of its contract to sell gas to Israel a year ago was, while very expensive for Israelis in the short run, not as damaging as Israelis initially feared in the longer run.
 
Jordan currently continues to receive its natural gas supplies from Egypt, despite the unreliability of the pipeline. This past summer it was reported that the Jordanian government began holding talks to become the first to purchase natural gas from Israel.
 
The constant terror attacks in the Sinai have only increased since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
The group spearheading the attacks, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, is inspired by Al-Qaeda. It has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
Last week the group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others.

Egypt Calls on Arab Countries to Blacklist the Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:58
Muslim protestsEgypt, which has blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, on Monday urged other members of the Arab League to follow suit.
 
AFP reported that Egypt called on Arab League members to enforce a counterterrorism treaty that would block funding and support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Cairo also wants the League’s members to hand over wanted Islamists linked to the Brotherhood, to which deposed president Mohammed Morsi belongs, the report said.
 
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said that Arab League members that signed the 1998 counterterrorism treaty should enforce it against the Brotherhood.
 
The treaty coordinates anti-terrorism measures between signatories.
 
“The signatories are responsible for implementing the treaty,” Abdelatty told AFP, adding that members would have to stop financing the group and hand over Brotherhood fugitives to Egypt.
 
An Arab League official told the news agency that 18 of the Arab League’s 22 members had ratified the treaty.
 
Egypt’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
The Mansoura attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, but Egypt’s government has said that there is a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ongoing terrorism in the country.
 
A senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has blasted the decision to declare the organization a “terrorist group” and said the Islamists in Egypt would continue with their near-daily demonstrations despite the blacklist.
 
Morsi and dozens of Brotherhood leaders face trials on various charges, including plotting terror attacks in Egypt.
 
Some of the group’s leaders have fled the country, and its media operation is now based in the United Kingdom.
 
Egypt has launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since the terror designation and has arrested dozens of its members.
 
Also arrested were three Al-Jazeera journalists who are accused of having met with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt: Journalists Arrested for Meeting with Muslim Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 02 January 2014 07:06
Egypt detains 18 MB membersEgyptian authorities arrested three Al-Jazeera journalists Sunday, alleging that they had met with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to BBC News. 
 
The three journalists form part of the new network's English-language staff, and have been identified as Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, the director of the network's TV station in Cairo; Peter Greste, an Australian and former BBC correspondent; and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy, according to CNN. 
 
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page that cameras, recordings and other material had been seized from rooms at a hotel in Cairo. It accused the journalists of broadcasting "false news" that could be "damaging to national security."
 
Freedom of the press is often elusive in Egypt. Journalists not only face suppression the government, but also from the news outlets themselves. 
 
At least 22 reporters from the Egyptian branch of Al-Jazeera resigned in July, citing biased reporting of the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi; another correspondent was fired earlier this month for doubting the network's coverage of the Arafat poisoning study.
 
According to the New York Times, the latest arrests have been aimed at sending a message to the media, deterring them from reporting on the group or their protests against the current government. 
 
On Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted Egypt as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in 2013, along with Syria and Iraq. Six journalists were killed in Egypt this year - simply for doing their work, according to the organization. 
 
Last week, the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, sparking new tensions between the military and the Brotherhood's supporters. The government has been engaging in a wide-ranging crackdown on Brotherhood members and supporters.
 
Earlier Sunday, Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, announced that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held by summer 2014.
 
The elections would be contingent on the approval of the new constitution, which would keep the military's hold on certain areas of civilian life. The Brotherhood rejected the constitution and announced a boycott of the referendum earlier this year. 

Ashraf Ramelah’s Report for Voice of the Copts 12/31/13

Category: Reports
Created on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 12:17
MB MembersEgypt and the Muslim Brotherhood 
The story of modern-day Egypt is the chronicle of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood from its inception as a religious charity through its development as a political organization and its use of terror to progress to power. Egypt’s narrative entails the use of both the limelight and the dungeons by a Muslim Brotherhood that manipulated and was manipulated by three successive dictators and a prior King to shape political and personal gains. 
 
Decisions by Egyptian rulers and their regimes worked to suppress the Brotherhood while favoring their dogma for separate power, projecting false realities -- the intricacies of which delivered assassinations. A nation angered and exhausted by entanglements and lies rose up into the streets on January 2011 yielding within months to the artifice and power of the Brotherhood which capitulated in the hijacking of the Arab Spring movement and the Morsi presidency.   
 
December 25, 2013 announcement by Egypt’s interim government follows on the heels of Egypt’s new protest regulation to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood organization altogether 
Last week, on December 25, Egypt’s interim government outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt by designating it a terror organization. Article 86 of Egypt’s criminal law will now be applied to the Muslim Brotherhood organization prohibiting its members from gathering or protesting. The law stops members and sympathizers from organizing, promoting group activities, issuing statements and accepting donations. Anyone trying to join the Muslim Brotherhood will be criminally prosecuted. Egypt is now requesting identical action by all Arab countries acceding to the Terrorism Suppression Act agreed upon at the 1998 convention held on April 22 in Cairo. 
The new protest regulation issued earlier last month by Egypt’s interim government mandating government permits to protest was thought to target the Brotherhood and serve to eliminate rallies and town invasions by Brotherhood gangs. Now this government act of designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization confirms these earlier speculations and goes beyond basic controls to transact what could be a final blow to the organization’s existence in Egypt. Another measure of accountability by Egypt’s leaders to the Egyptian freedom-fighters and an important contribution to the international community, Egypt’s bold decision not only preserves its current path to freedom, equality and human rights but offers the world a possible curtailment of exported terrorism and a model to emulate. 
 
Is this just business as usual in Egypt or has the time finally arrived for a Muslim Brotherhood-free Egypt? 
The Muslim Brotherhood’s long history in Egypt proves that the Brotherhood can withstand damage and setbacks to the organization as long as counter actions prosper it. In 1942, the Egyptian court for the first time found guilty two members of the Muslim Brotherhood for attempting to overthrow the government. In 1948, after the assassination of the Egyptian Prime Minister Al Nekrashi by the Muslim Brotherhood, King Farouk issued a decree to dissolve the organization. This was then overturned by the courts in 1951 when the Egyptian State Council (the courts) issued a verdict annulling the King’s decree declaring it an illegal action to disband the group and confiscate its properties. 
 
After the Brotherhood’s attempted assassination of President Nasser in Alexandria in early 1954, Nasser dissolved the organization. President Sadat then turned a blind eye to the law allowing Muslim Brotherhood activity to flourish for the sake of his personal political gains. Sadat was then assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood in October of 1981. 
 
President Mubarak prolonged his presidency by keeping the Brotherhood happy with seats in parliament, university positions, and government posts. Alas, Mubarak survived an assassination attempt by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood while he was visiting Ethiopia in 1996. In turn, Mubarak arrested and jailed Brotherhood leaders for the next four years or more but increased the number of Brotherhood seats in parliament to a total of 88. 
 
After the removal of Mubarak in 2011 the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces became Egypt’s interim government which immediately handed over their power to the Muslim Brotherhood. After two years of the worst hardship modern-day Egyptians had ever known, the Egyptian army led by General Al-Sisi removed by force the Muslim Brotherhood from Rabaah and Al Nahada Squares on August 14, 2013 marking a turn once again against the Muslim Brotherhood organization. 
 
With its penetration of the grassroots for the first time in Egypt (with its bombings, chaos, and havoc) has the Muslim Brotherhood’s power reached a climax triggering its mortality?   
 
The Muslim Brotherhood has now lost its image as “warriors for a better life,” and Egyptians know better that the organization abides in its self-aggrandizement and sheer destruction of the state. This has led to a completely different scenario from the past. Inside Egypt now, power resides in hands of genuine interests to rid Egypt entirely of the Muslim Brotherhood with the ability to do so. Now, more than ever, forces from outside of Egypt could play a prominent opposition role inside Egypt to alter this delicate momentum in favor of terrorism. 

Egypt's Interim President Promises Elections Within 7 Months

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 10:39
Adly Mansour  Al ArabiyaEgypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, said on Sunday that the government is committed to holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of approval of the new constitution, to be voted on next month, reports Reuters.
 
The timetable means that Egypt would have an elected government by next summer to replace the interim government installed by the army after it ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
Mansour said that it would not be unconstitutional for presidential elections to be held before parliamentary elections.
 
The initial plan unveiled in July required parliamentary elections to be held first, but the constitution to be voted on in a referendum on January 14 and 15 would allow presidential elections first.
 
The new draft constitution approved several weeks ago, preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases. This has angered secular groups that backed the military in ousting Morsi.
 
Other articles include one stipulating that Islamic sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.
 
Another main article of the new charter forbids the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds.
 
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was quick to reject the new constitution due to the fact that it preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases.
 
Later, the Anti-Coup Alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood announced it will boycott the referendum and organize a campaign against the vote.
 
There has been endless violence as well as terror attacks in Egypt since July when Morsi was ousted.
 
The tension between Morsi supporters and opponents reached a new turning point last week, when the military-installed government designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
 
This was followed by a crackdown on the Islamist movement, as Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of its members.
 
The terror designation came a day after a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
The Mansoura attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, but Egypt’s government has said that there is a link between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ongoing terrorism in the country.
 
A senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has blasted the decision to declare the organization a “terrorist group” and said the Islamists in Egypt would continue with their near-daily demonstrations despite the blacklist.

Washington: Egypt Going 'Way Too Far' with Brotherhood

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 29 December 2013 06:59
Obama and Chairman AbbasWashington believes that Egypt’s latest crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood is a bit too much but won’t take action against the interim government in Cairo, a United States official said Thursday.
 
The official, who was quoted by the Reuters news agency, said the administration believed the Egyptian government was going "way too far" in its current crackdown on the Brotherhood and its supporters.
 
The comments came as Egyptian authorities arrested dozens of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The latest crackdown on the movement started a day after the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist group by Egypt’s interim government.
 
The official who spoke to Reuters said that the administration of President Barack Obama was not considering, or even discussing, the possibility of the U.S. government designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization as Egypt had done.
 
The official also said that despite its reservations about the Egyptian government's actions, the Obama administration also was not planning to take any action against Egypt or its authorities in response to the crackdown.
 
In October, the United States announced it would cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Egypt to register displeasure over the military's pace of restoring democracy following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
U.S. law forbids sending aid to countries where a democratic government was deposed by a military coup, but until now, Washington has never qualified Morsi’s ouster as a "coup" and has been cautious about doing so, choosing only to condemn the violence in the country.

Egypt’s Defense Minister Vows to Fight Terrorism

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 28 December 2013 06:05
1General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defence minister AFPEgypt’s Defense Minister, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, vowed on Thursday to fight terrorism and stabilize the deeply divided country, Al Arabiya reported.
 
The remarks came hours after an explosion hit a public bus in Cairo, killing one person and wounding at least five others.
 
“Do not worry or fear, the army will sacrifice for Egypt. We will eliminate” terrorism, Sisi was quoted as having said at a military ceremony, in his first comments after Egypt was rocked by two bomb attacks this week.
 
“Do not allow these terrorist actions to affect you. If you want freedom and stability, which is not achieved easily, then you have to trust God and your army and your police,” said Sisi in a statement released by the army.
 
Sisi, whose popularity has soared since he ousted former President Mohammed Morsi, said the defense forces had the capability to make Egypt “stable, secure and progressive,” AFP reported.
 
Terrorist attacks have been on the increase in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster on July 3. On Tuesday, a massive suicide car bombing in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura killed 16 people and wounded more than 100.
 
Tuesday's attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
Following the Mansoura attack, Egypt’s interim government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist group”, banning all its activities, including protests.
 
The Brotherhood has denied any connection to terrorism in Egypt, saying the Mansoura attack was “a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people” and saying it “demands an inquiry forthwith so that the perpetrators of this crime may be  brought to justice".
 
A senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood blasted the decision to declare the organization a “terrorist group” and said the Islamists in Egypt would continue with their near-daily demonstrations despite the blacklist.

Egypt detains 18 MB members on terror charges

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 December 2013 15:11
Egypt detains 18 MB membersEgyptian security forces arrested on Thursday 18 Muslim Brotherhood members, including a former lawmaker, a day after their organization was declared by the government a terrorist group.
 
Seven were detained for a renewable two-week period in the city of Alexandria and 11 in the Nile Delta town of Zagazig.
 
They include the son of a deputy leader of deposed president Mohammad Mursi’s movement, the official MENA news agency reported.
 
Police also arrested 16 suspected Muslim Brotherhood members for passing out leaflets in support of the group and "inciting to violence," the agency reported.
 
The government on Wednesday blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood and criminalized all its activities, its financing and even membership to the group from which the country’s ousted president hails.
 
The announcement is aimed at crippling the Brotherhood and poses a dramatic escalation of the fight between the government and group, which has waged near-daily protests since the July 3 popularly backed military coup that toppled President Mohammad Mursi.
 
Hossam Eissa, the Minister of Higher Education, said that the decision was in response a deadly bombing targeting a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100 on Tuesday.
 
The Brotherhood denied responsibility for the Mansoura attack and blamed the notorious security regime of former President Hosni Mubarak of masterminding it.
 
It said the decision to blacklist it would not affect its activities and vowed to keep up protests.
 
“The protests will continue, certainly,” Ibrahim Munir, a member of the group’s executive council who is in exile in London, told AFP, adding the move was “illegitimate.”
 
“This is an attempt to frame the Brotherhood,” Munir said, according to AFP.
 
The Brotherhood, established in 1928, denounced violence in the late 1970s. Ibrahim Elsayed, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political group, the Freedom and Justice Party, also said the government announcement will have no impact on the work or the beliefs of the group, because it has seen repeated government repression and continued to exist with a moderate view of Islam, Associated Press reported.
 
“This decision is as if it never happened. It has no value for us and is only worth the paper it is written on,” he told The Associated Press. “It won’t impact us from near and far. Ideas won’t be impacted by false accusations. We uphold this call only for the sake of God.”
 
The declaration, Eissa said, means that those who “participate in the group’s activities, in the organization or promotion verbally or by writing or by any other means or financing its activities” will be facing punishment according to the law. He said that the government had notified other Arab countries about its decision. The Brotherhood has organizations and political parties in other nations in the region.
 
Ahmed el-Borai, the Minister of Social Solidarity, told reporters in a news conference that the decision means “all activities of the Muslim Brotherhood group are - banned including the demonstrations.” He said that members who abandon their membership and withdraw from the group “will be pardoned.”
 
The declaration also gives the armed forces and the police the right to enter universities and prevent protests, as “protection to the students,” el-Borai said.
 
The decision comes after a sweeping decision Tuesday aimed at draining the Brotherhood’s finances by freezing the funds of more than 1,000 non-government organizations with links to the group and putting more than 100 schools run by the group under government supervision. That directly attacks the grassroots strength of the Brotherhood, where it has much of its power in Egyptian life.
 
Rifaat Laqoushah, a political analyst, said that the government decision is “procedural” and that it could be overturned by the courts.
 
“The government should present strong evidence of the Muslim Brotherhood collaboration in terrorism and present it to courts in order to win a court ruling branding the group as a terrorist one,” Laqoushah said.
 
Earlier Wednesday, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, said in an online statement that it carried out the attack in Mansoura police headquarters attack Tuesday to avenge the “shedding of innocent Muslim blood” at the hands of Egypt’s “apostate regime” - a reference to the security forces’ crackdown on Islamists following the coup, Associated Press reported.
 
While the claim posted on a militant website could not be absolutely verified, it corresponded with previous messages issued by the group on the same forum. It identified the suicide bomber in Tuesday’s attack by the nickname Abu Mariam.
 
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis has emerged as the main Sinai-based militant group staging attacks against Egyptian security forces. The group has claimed most major attacks in the Sinai and Suez Canal-area cities in recent months, as well as a failed attempt to assassinate the country’s interior minister in September.
 
On Monday, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis issued a message threatening more attacks against Egyptian troops, saying it considers them to be infidels because they answer to the secular-leaning government.

Bomb Blast Targets Bus in Egyptian Capital

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 December 2013 09:15
Bomb Blast Targets BusOne person has been killed and at least four people have been injured after a bomb was thrown at a bus in outside the Azhar University in Cairo Thursday morning.
 
The site of the explosion has been cordoned off and is being investigated by police, according to Egyptian media reports.  
 
The apparent terrorist attack comes just one day after the interim Egyptian government blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, following a deadly attack on a security installation on Tuesday.
 
That attack was claimed by a Salafi group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, but Egyptian interim authorities have longed accused the Muslim Brotherhood of playing an active role in fomenting deadly violence in response to the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi - charges the Brotherhood denies.
 
Thursday's attack is likely to inflame tensions further, as Muslim Brotherhood members vow to continue their demonstrations in protest of Morsi's ouster.

Muslim Brotherhood Blasts Terror Group Designation

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 December 2013 08:21
Islamists rally in support of Morsi 5th July - ReutersA senior leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood blasted on Wednesday night the decision by Egypt’s interim government to declare the organization a “terrorist group”.
 
Speaking to AFP, Brotherhood member Ibrahim Munir made clear that the Islamists in Egypt would continue with their near-daily demonstrations despite the blacklist.
 
"The protests will continue, certainly," said Munir, a member of the group's executive council who is in exile in London, denouncing the government's latest move as "illegitimate."
 
"This is an attempt to frame the Brotherhood," he claimed.
 
Wednesday’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization came one day after a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others.
 
"The government has decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood movement a terrorist organization," read a statement by Egypt’s government quoted by AFP.
 
"Members who continue to belong to this group or organization following the release of this statement will be punished according to the law," warned the statement.
 
Social solidarity minister Ahmed al-Borei was quoted as having said the government would ban all the Brotherhood's activities, including "protests."
 
Tuesday's attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group which has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
The Brotherhood has denied any connection to terrorism in Egypt. In an email to Al Jazeera, the group stated that "The Muslim Brotherhood considers this act as a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people and demands an inquiry forthwith so that the perpetrators of this crime may be  brought to justice".
 
Nevertheless, interim Egyptian authorities have long claimed a link between the Brotherhood and the string of bloody attacks which followed the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood is already the subject of a court ban by an Egyptian court. Egypt has also frozen the assets of senior leaders of the movement and has arrested dozens of its members since Morsi’s ouster, including most of its leadership.

Egypt: We Thwarted a Hamas Attack

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 26 December 2013 08:04
Mohammed BrayhaThe Egyptian Army announced Wednesday that it had apprehended a Hamas terrorist in the northern Sinai Desert, Al-Arabiya reports. 
 
The terrorist was named as Jumaa Khamis Mohammed Brayha, who claimed to stem from a powerful family in Hamas's ranks. 
 
During interrogation, according to the Egyptian army, the young man admitted that he was intending to blow up a Mercedes parked near a crucial security target.
 
Hamas has denied that the detainee was among its ranks and says his name is not even included in the register of residents of the Gaza Strip.
 
Relations between Egypt and Hamas have deteriorated, after the ouster of terrorist faction Muslim Brotherhood from power via a military coup in July 2013. 
 
The Egyptian government officially designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization earlier Wednesday, after Tuesday's deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others.
 
The decision is bound to enrage Hamas officials, as reports indicate close ties between the two groups.
 
Recently, Egypt accused the terror organization of being involved in inciting terror on their soil via the Brotherhood; Hamas has denied the allegations. 
 
Hamas has also been reeling from a months-long siege on Gaza - not from Israel, as it has insisted to the media, but from Egypt. Egypt has been cracking down on terror tunnels and supply lines to the territory, according to reports. The siege has led to shortages in electricity, food, and other resources. 

Egyptian Gov't Blacklists Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Group

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 18:19
Muslim Brotherhood 00The Egyptian government has designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, one day after a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others.
 
"The Cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood group and its organisation as a terrorist organisation," Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa announced on behalf of the Egyptian cabinet Wednesday.
 
Tuesday's attack was claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based Al Qaeda-inspired group. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
The Salafi group has also claimed responsibility for firing rockets from the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Nevertheless, interim Egyptian authorities have long claimed a link between the Brotherhood and the string of bloody attacks which followed the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi. The former president is currently facing trial along with several other prominent Islamists over an alleged "terrorist plot" which involved Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood is already the subject of a court ban by an Egyptian court, following the military-led ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July. 
 
The ban on the group accompanied a campaign by security forces to crush the Islamist movement in which hundreds of its members have been killed and thousands arrested.
 
Egypt has also frozen the assets of senior leaders of the movement and has arrested dozens of its members since Morsi’s ouster, including most of its leadership.
 
The terrorist designation will enable Egyptian authorities to crack down even harder on the Brotherhood and its supporters.
 
The Brotherhood, for its part, has denied any connection to terrorism in Egypt. In an email to Al Jazeera, the group stated that "The Muslim Brotherhood considers this act as a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people and demands an enquiry forthwith so that the perpetrators of this crime may be  brought to justice".

Salafist Organization Claims Deadly Egypt Attack

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 14:50
deadly attack in Mansoura01A Salafist organization in Egypt on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a security building in the city of Mansoura that killed 14 people and wounded more than 100 others, Al-Arabiya reported.
 
“Dakahlia Security Directorate was attacked and the operation was carried out successfully thanks be to God and to our Jihadist brothers,” the report quoted the Twitter account of the group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, as having said.
 
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed various attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
The terror group has in the past also claimed responsibility for firing rockets from the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
 
Monday night’s attack in Mansoura was one of the deadliest attacks in Egypt since the army deposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour has declared three days of mourning.
 
The army-backed government vowed to fight “black terrorism,” saying the blast would not derail a political transition plan whose next step is a January referendum on a new constitution, according to Reuters.
 
“We face an enemy that has no religion or nation,” Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, the survivor of an assassination attempt in Cairo in September also claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, said at the scene of the blast.
 
The army said a car bomb had been used in what it called a “vile terrorist attack”, while the presidency said such attacks “only increase the state’s determination to uproot terrorism.”
 
There were conflicting reports following the attack over whether the government had designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
 
A spokesman for Egypt’s Prime Minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, said that the interim leader had fingered the Muslim Brotherhood movement as being behind the attack and has declared it a "terrorist" organization.
 
Beblawi himself, however, branded the Mansoura attack an “act of terrorism”, but refused to confirm that Egypt has decided to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.
 
“Whoever is behind this act is a terrorist and will be brought to justice and punished according to the law. But I don’t want to anticipate the incidents,” he said.
 
But the Brotherhood denied any involvement in the blast and condemned it in an emailed statement to Al Jazeera.
 
"The Muslim Brotherhood considers this act as a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people and demands an enquiry forthwith so that the perpetrators of this crime may be  brought to justice," the statement said.

Morsi's PM Arrested While Trying to Flee

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 14:07
Hisham Qandil warned that no one was above the law.  Egypt state TVEgyptian police have arrested the former prime minister who served under ousted President Mohammed Morsi, the BBC reports.
 
The local interior ministry said Hisham Qandil was caught in a mountainous area with smugglers trying to flee to Sudan.
 
Qandil was sentenced to a year in prison while in office for not carrying out a court ruling to renationalize a company that was privatized in 1996, noted the BBC.
 
A Cairo appeals court upheld the sentence in September, two months after the military overthrew Morsi.
 
Qandil represented an alliance of pro-Morsi Islamist groups in meetings with European Union mediators, who tried to persuade the military-installed interim government to launch a fully inclusive transition process that included the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
However, he kept a low profile after the authorities launched a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood in August, in which hundreds of people have been killed and thousands detained.
 
Qandil resigned from office several days after Morsi’s ouster, addressing his letter of resignation to the ousted president and saying it had become “impossible to work in view of the bloodshed.”
 
Qandil, who became Egypt's youngest prime minister since 1954 in August of 2012, is not a member of the Brotherhood or any other Islamist political organization, but is said to be religious.
 
Since July 3, when Morsi was ousted, Egypt’s interim authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas Kassam Rocket Lands in Egyptian Territory

Category: News
Created on Monday, 23 December 2013 07:46
PA TerroristsA Kassam rocket fired from Gaza landed in Egyptian regional waters Sunday, an Egyptian military official told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency.
 
The official said the rocket landed 300 meters off the coast of Egypt's Rafiah and exploded in the water.
 
There were no injuries reported, Ma’an said.
 
Hamas told Egyptian intelligence that the rocket was fired during a military training exercise performed in the Tal al-Sultan area of Gaza, the official said.
 
The rocket reached Egypt by mistake, he noted.
 
Gaza terrorists have fired an endless number of rockets at southern Israel, with most attacks originating from Gaza itself.
 
On a few occasions, however, the attacks were perpetrated from the restive Sinai Peninsula. These attacks, which have usually been directed at the southern Israeli city of Eilat, have not been claimed by Hamas but rather by a Sinai-based jihadist group.
 
The relations between the Hamas government in Gaza and the interim Egyptian government have been tense.
 
Since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement is Hamas’s parent movement, the Egyptian army has been shutting down the tunnels leading from the Sinai into Gaza. Hamas uses these tunnels to transfer goods, weapons and even terrorists.
 
Egypt has blamed Hamas of being involved in teaching Islamists in Egypt how to carry out attacks. Hamas has denied the allegations.
 
Recent reports indicated that Gaza has been under an Egyptian siege and not an Israeli one as Hamas constantly claims.
 
Israel, in fact, allowed a diesel delivery into Gaza last week, in order to help the region recover from massive flooding caused by winter storm.

Egypt Arrests Terrorist Involved in August 2012 Border Attack

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 19 December 2013 12:20
Egypt Arrests TerroristEgypt's military has arrested a jihadist suspected of involvement in an ambush that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the border with Israel last year, an army spokesman said Tuesday, according to AFP.
 
Silmi Mohammed Masbah was arrested Monday in Sinai and is allegedly a member of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group operating in the restive peninsula, said military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali.
 
Ali said 20 other jihadists were arrested with Masbah but they were involved in other attacks on security forces.
 
Masbah, known as Abu Khalid, was involved in the August 5, 2012 ambush on an Egyptian guard post in the town of Rafiah near the border with Israel that killed 16 soldiers, Ali said, according to the AFP report.
 
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed attacks in and outside the Sinai peninsula, including the unsuccessful September 5 car bomb against interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo.
 
It also claimed last month's assassination in Cairo of police Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabruk, who was involved in an ongoing crackdown on Islamists in Egypt.
 
The group has openly denounced the Egyptian army as “an enemy of Allah” because of its crackdown on Sinai terrorists.
 
The Sinai has become increasingly lawless since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and the terror attacks have only increased since the removal of his successor, Mohammed Morsi.
 
The Egyptian armed forces have launched large scale military operations against terrorists in Sinai in an attempt to suppress the insurgency. The terror groups have hit back - a torrent of attacks by gangs of Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic terrorists have killed many Egyptian soldiers and policemen since Morsi's overthrow.

Morsi Supporters to Boycott Referendum on Constitution

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 13:53
Bihand barsThe Islamist supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi will boycott a referendum on a new constitution next month and organize a campaign against the vote, a spokesman said Monday, according to AFP.
 
The Anti-Coup Alliance led by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement had initially considered calling on its supporters to vote against the constitution, according to the news agency.
 
However, an extensive police crackdown on the Islamists has decimated their grassroots network, weakening their chances of defeating the new constitution at polls.
 
“We reject any vote under military rule,” declared Hamza al-Farawy, a spokesman for the Anti-Coup Alliance, which demands Morsi’s reinstatement.
 
The referendum on January 14 and 15 is expected to ratify the new constitution, which replaces the one suspended by the military when it ousted Morsi in July.
 
Farawy told AFP the coalition of Islamist groups, which conducts almost daily protests, would launch a boycott campaign.
 
He did not elaborate on how the campaign would unfold, as thousands of Islamists, including the Brotherhood's top leadership, have been arrested. Morsi himself is behind bars, accused of inciting violence against protesters last year.
 
More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed in street clashes since the president was overthrown by the military amid massive protests against his turbulent year-long rule.
 
The new constitution will be the first step in the army's political transition plan that should conclude with parliamentary and presidential elections next year.
 
The revised charter, approved several weeks ago, preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases. This has angered secular groups that backed the military in ousting Morsi.
 
Other articles include one stipulating that Islamic sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.
 
Another main article of the new charter forbids the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds.
 
One article says that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.” Secular artists have demonstrated against this provision, saying it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood was quick to reject the new constitution due to the fact that it preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases.

Coptic Christians fear continued turmoil, new Constitution in Egypt

Category: Interviews
Created on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 12:32
Coptic Christians fear continued turmoil, new Constitution in Egypt
 
An interview with Coptic activist Ashraf Ramelah
 
Dr. Ashraf Ramelah100Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is the founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights nonprofit organization 501 (c) (3). The organization has offices in Italy and the United  States.  Dr. Ramelah is a Coptic Christian activist dedicated to the Coptic cause and believes that his life’s mission is to speak up for the oppressed Copts who cannot speak up for themselves. His web site is www.voiceofthecopts.org. This is a Q&A with Dr. Ramelah.
 
1 — What is your view of the newly proposed constitution
 
Any constitution containing religious references is antiquated. The writers of Egypt’s new constitution tried to please both Islamists and secularists, an impossibility, and in doing so left an open door to another uprising and another constitution.
 
2 — How does it address the rights of Coptic Christians?
 
Copts are citizens of Egypt. They do not need to have special rights. In a democratic country all citizens are equal under the law. However, this constitution is not democratic and falls short of establishing principles of individual freedom and human rights; therefore, it undermines the rights of all Egyptians especially Christians who remain second-class citizens.
 
3 — Are Coptic Christians better off today than they were under Mubarak and Sadat, or has their situation worsened?
 
The situation for Copts is worse than ever. The Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi experiment made life more difficult and oppressive than under Mubarak but reverting to the Mubarak era is not what Copts have risked their lives to obtain. Thus, I believe that if things are to get better in Egypt (real freedom in Egypt), things will first get worse.
 
Egypts president Nasser with a delegation of Egyptian Coptic bishops from Daqahlia Qena Qous and Suhag Photo credit- WikipediaDuring Nasser’s era, Copts paid a high economic price when their businesses were nationalized. Nasser confiscated the agricultural lands owned by Copts and sold divided parcels to Muslims. Both Copts and Jews were stripped of their economic power through Nasser’s government seizure of private businesses. Sadat furthered Nasser’s Islamization of Egypt which worsened the plight of Copts. By the time of Mubarak’s presidency, Islamic supremacy had saturated the country. The  Mubarak era protected Muslim thugs and mob attack of Christians, their churches and homes, by allowing police and thugs to take the law into their own hands with the court backing. In short, the corrupted justice system, stacked against Christians, led to further degradation.
 
Worse now: Decades of adverse conditions for Copts weakened the body of Christians into passivity even before Morsi’s Sharia-leaning, anti-Christian and anti-democracy government came to power. During Morsi’s term, Copts were daily victims of mob violence with no guilty party ever paying the price. Then Morsi’s downfall resulted in a Muslim Brotherhood backlash against Christians faulted for Morsi’s overthrow. Egypt’s new constitutional draft just written proves to be a replica of the Sadat-Mubarak constitution without any promise of equal rights for all citizens.
 
4 — Has the Arab Spring treated Christians fairly or has the Arab Spring focused more on Islamic concerns and needs, ignoring Christians
 
Arab Spring is a deceptive label created by western leftists as a misnomer for the Islamic revival in Arab countries. Arab Spring was a massive project instigated by the Muslim Brotherhood in a series of countries with the Islamic Caliphate as its ultimate goal. Christians, like the Jews before them, are meant to be purged from each country. In the Middle East — Egypt, Iraq and Syria – Christians suffered the most losses (property damage, injury, and death). Central Africa – Nigeria and Kenya – on the whole had less impact on the Christian populations, although much suffering.
 
5 — What is the current state of Coptic Christians? How bad is the discrimination they face?
 
Church in fireIt is very bad. Christians live in fear. Kidnapping of girls and women and firebombing of churches and towns and more take place without reliable police protection. Law enforcement – police and army – are infiltrated by Islamists many of whom are criminals recently released from jails by Morsi. Hamas is prevalent and Christians are soft targets.
 
6 — What needs to be done?
 
By some miracle this past July, the sea parted for the Egyptian people. Now freedom fighters must be led through this time period by true representatives acting boldly to achieve their ends. First, the police and the army must be cleansed of terrorist and Islamist infiltration, both in ranks and in leadership, in order that the people have real protection. Also, all terrorists and criminals roaming the streets must be rounded up and jailed or deported from Egypt. Already, all Islamic teachings on satellite TV can no longer be seen because TV stations spewing Islamic propaganda have been shut down – a hopeful sign.
 
As well, this interim time between governments should be used by true liberal leaders to begin to de-Islamize the country. Egypt’s entire school system teaches every subject using Islamic religious doctrine in textbooks responsible for brainwashing students into believing Islam’s supremacy ideology. Authorities must begin to replace all school textbooks in order that Egypt’s future generation of leaders learn well that religion must be separate from the state and that all religions must have equality under the law.
 
Leaders pursuing a modern state must put in place a plan to reverse the course of adult illiteracy and teach the principles of freedom and democracy. The voting process must be taught as election polls must be lawful and regulated and overseers prepared.
 
Actually, there are no leaders in Egypt at this moment with any real commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, much less a democratic constitution. But pro-democracy freedom fighters still have power as long as they continue to have General Al Sisi’s support.
 

Original article

Egypt referendum to be held mid-January

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 14 December 2013 18:21
constitution draft will be held on Jan. 14-15 2014A referendum on Egypt's draft constitution will be held on Jan. 14-15, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour announced on Saturday.
 
"I call upon you to vote in a referendum on the draft revised constitution on January 14 and 15," interim president Adly Mansour said in a speech to the nation, accompanied by high-ranking officials and those who drafted the new charter.
 
The new constitution will be the first step in the army's political transition plan that should conclude with parliamentary and presidential elections next year.
 
Mansour praised the revised draft for its provisions on the "securing of human rights, freedoms and the balancing of powers".
 
"It is a good start on which to build the institutions of a democratic and modern state," he said.
 
The widely-awaited announcement was made in the presence of the 50-member committee which drafted the charter, as well as top state officials including Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawy, his cabinet, members of the Supreme Judicial Council, and representatives of al-Azhar and the Coptic Church, the state news agency reported.
 
The new constitution was drafted after the interim military-installed authorities suspended the previous charter written under the Islamist Morsi.
 
Egypt's first democratically elected president was ousted by the army on July 3.
 
Government officials said last week that the referendum could be held in the middle of January. But controversy arose last week when the president reportedly met with his consultants to discuss what he saw as “errors” in the draft charter awaiting to be put to a national vote, sources told an Egyptian daily newspaper.
 
Following the news, Amr Moussa, the chairman of the 50-member panel, defended the document.
 
Speaking to the Associated Press, Moussa said the draft constitution guarantees democracy and freedoms.
 
“This is a constitution that answers to the requirements of the 21st century,” he said. “The constitution is very clear on democracy and freedoms.”
 
Critics of the draft constitution contend that is has given the military special status by allowing it to bring civilians before military tribunals.
 
But Moussa defended the powers given to the military, saying Egyptians must stand behind the military.
 
“The armed forces are widely respected and are being attacked. They lose soldiers and officers every day,” Moussa said. “There is a consensus that we are going through very dangerous circumstances. The army is under attack and we all have to stand firm behind it.”
 
The draft also removes Islamist-inspired provisions written into the Egyptian constitution approved in a referendum last year while President Mohammad Mursi was still in office.
 
The Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance organizes regular protests demanding Mursi’s reinstatement that often set off clashes with security forces and opponents of the deposed president.

Massive Explosion Rocks Egyptian Police Camp

Category: News
Created on Friday, 13 December 2013 16:15
Explosion Rocks Egyptian Police CampOn Thursday an Egyptian security forces camp in Ismailiya, near the Sinai Peninsula, was targeted by a massive explosion, leaving at least 35 policemen injured. Officials told Al Jazeera the bombing was followed by gunshots.
 
Ismailiya and the surrounding Sinai areas have witnessed regular attacks on police and military. In October, another security headquarters was attacked in Ismailiya, leaving 5 soldiers dead.
 
Egypt has seen massive protests and general unrest since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was deposed on July 3. The military has cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood since, arresting top leaders of the movement. 
 
In particular, the military has been active in the Sinai, conducting operations to stem the wave of attacks in the region.
 
Earlier on Thursday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters protested near the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Cairo. Police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators.
 
Since Morsi's deposal, over 1,000 people have been killed, most of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters. The military has arrested roughly 2,000 Islamists over that time period.

Judges walk out of Egypt Brotherhood trial

Category: News
Created on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 17:36
Saad al-Katatni Essam el-Erian and Khairat el-Shater.AFPThe trial of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood members came to a halt on Wednesday after the three judges walked out due to disorder among the defendants.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood members standing trial, including Supreme Guide Mohammad Badie, reportedly disrupted the proceedings by chanting slogans against the judiciary.
 
It is the second time the trial has been halted. On October 29 police failed to bring the defendants, including six senior Muslim Brother members, into the court claiming they were unable to secure the courtroom.
 
“We step down in both cases and we are sending the cases back to the head of the appeal court. The head of the appeal court will assign these cases to another court. Meanwhile, the defendants remain imprisoned,” Judge Mohammad el-Qarmouti said at the time.
 
The judges said they could not preside over the trial citing “reasons of conscience,” in a move seen as disapproval of the fairness of the trial.
 
A second round of judges stepped down on Wednesday after the defendants began yelling anti-government slogans from the dock.
 
Chief judge Mostafa Salama announced the panel was stepping down.
 
The trial is part of a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies since the military overthrew Mohammad Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, on July 3.
 
Two of the defendants, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie and financier Khairat el-Shater, are on trial for charges stemming from the June 30 clashes outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters, which resulted in nine fatalities.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Appears in Court

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 13:00
Egypt Muslim Brotherhood headThe Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide turned on his accusers on Monday, when he appeared in court for the first time since he was arrested following the army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, reports Reuters.
 
"Why aren't you investigating the killing of my son, and the burning of my house and the group's offices?" Mohammed Badie asked of the judge, referring to his 38-year-old son who was killed in August in the midst of a crackdown on the group.
 
Badie claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood had perpetrated no violence, as his trial began at a police academy where Morsi went on trial last month. They were his first public remarks since his arrest on August 20.
 
The supreme guide faces charges that include inciting violence during a Brotherhood sit-in at Cairo University in mid-July.
 
The court ordered the trial to reconvene on February 11, Al Arabiya reported. Badie, 70, appeared with other prominent Islamists including Mohammed el-Beltagi and Essam el-Erian, who was arrested in late October.
 
On July 25, days after Morsi’s overthrow, Badie described the military’s actions as an act worse than destroying Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba.
 
“I swear by God that what [Gen. Abdel-Fattah] al-Sissi did in Egypt is more criminal than if he had carried an ax and demolished the holy Kaaba, stone by stone,” Badie said, according to Al Arabiya.
 
Badie has in the past called for a jihad (holy war) to liberate Jerusalem from Israeli rule.
 
Following Badie’s arrest, his lawyer claimed that he had beaten by police. Subsequent reports indicated that Badie had suffered a heart attack in prison, but Egypt’s Interior Ministry denied those repors.
 
More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed since July 3 when he was ousted and authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas Announces Renewed Ties with Iran

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 12:09
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei illustration - ReutersHamas has "resumed" relations with Iran after a temporary falling out over the Syrian conflict, according to AFP.
 
"Relations between Hamas and Iran have resumed," senior official Mahmud al-Zahar told reporters at a Monday news conference in Gaza. 
 
Ties had been "affected by the Syria situation, and Hamas has withdrawn from Syria so that it can't be identified with this or that side," he said. "We've confirmed we are not interfering in the Syrian case, or in any other Arab country."
 
Shia Iran had long supported the Sunni Hamas against Israel, which is viewed as a common enemy. But exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal left his base in Damascus after the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, criticizing President Bashar al-Assad, a key ally of Iran, and moving to the Sunni Gulf state of Qatar.
 
But the Hamas leader made remarks in October of this year supporting the Assad regime and calling for an end in sectarian fighting at a Jerusalem conference. The move was subsequently slammed by powerful rebel group Army of Islam, who denounced Hamas's ties with the Assad ally and claimed that they were trying to restore funding to Gaza by exploiting their position on the conflict. 
 
Media reports indicate that the constant switching of sides has led to a huge decrease in Hamas's funding - especially from Iran. 
 
But Zahar denied there had been a complete severing of ties. "Our relations with Iran were not cut, and we don't wish to cut ties with any Arab countries either, even those that are fighting against us," he said. The latter reference was to Egypt, which has taken a hard line against the Islamist group since the military overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
Hamas is an affiliate of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the target of a massive crackdown in Egypt in recent months that has seen hundreds of Morsi supporters killed and more than 2,000 arrested.
 
Zahar said there was still cooperation with Egypt on getting supplies, including fuel, into the Gaza Strip, but "there is no political contact, because the current (Egyptian) regime is against it."
 
Since July, Egypt's military has destroyed hundreds of tunnels used to bring crucial supplies, including fuel, into the blockaded Strip. It has also launched efforts to stop terror tunnels into Egypt and Israel and battled terror factions in the Sinai desert, angering Gaza officials. 
 
Having initially spoken out against Egypt's new military regime, Hamas has sought to avoid a further deterioration in relations with Cairo.

Egypt sets constitution vote ‘for January’

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:30
constitutional draftA referendum on Egypt’s much-debated constitution will be held in the middle of January, a government minister said on Monday.
 
The nationwide vote will be held two days, Hany Mahmoud, minister of administrative development, said in an interview with Egyptian TV channel CBC.
 
When asked about a date for the referendum, Mahmoud said: “We are talking about mid-January.”
 
Interim President Adly Mansour is expected to set the official date this week, Mahmoud added in the interview.
 
A 50-member committee completed drawing up Egypt’s constitutional draft last week and handed it to interim President Adly Mansour.
 
But controversy arose last week when the president reportedly met with his consultants to discuss what he saw as “errors” in the draft charter awaiting to be put to a national vote, sources told an Egyptian daily newspaper.
 
According to the privately-owned Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, Adly discussed with his presidential office consultants what he saw as errors in the wording of the draft.
 
The draft leaves uncertain which elections would be called first after its adoption — the parliamentary or the presidential. It says only the first must be held within 90 days of its adoption, with the next within six months after.
 
The draft removes Islamist-inspired provisions written into the Egyptian constitution approved in a referendum last year while President Mohammad Mursi was still in office.
 
But the charter also leaves the military with unfettered freedom to choose the country’s defense minister from within its ranks and grants him immunity for two, four-year presidential terms.
 
 
Salafist support for charter
 
Egypt’s Islamist Salafist Nour Party said on Saturday that it had formed a committee to mobilize voters in favor of the newly drafted constitution.
 
Shaaban Abdul Aleem, a member of the ultra-conservative party, told Al Arabiya News Channel that the party endorsed the draft constitution because it “preserves the Islamic identity of Egypt.”
 
Abdul-Aleem stressed said “religious propaganda” will not be part of its strategy to amass support for the new charter.
 
“We will not use religious propaganda or attempt to influence voters religiously through our campaign, as we are not a religious based party, although we refer to Islam and Shariah as a higher reference, which is constitutional,” he said.

Arab investments in Egypt reach $50 billion

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 07 December 2013 21:40
Cairo Stock Exchange.  illustrativeArab investments in Egypt to date have reached $50 billion, an Egyptian minister said on Thursday, adding that the government is working to improve its investment climate to attract businesspeople.
 
Egyptian Investment Minister Osama Saleh added that foreign, non-Arab investments equal $47 billion, as quoted by Ahram Online.
 
Saleh made the remarks at the end of a two-day forum held north of Cairo, which hosted businesspeople and representatives from several Gulf states in a bid to boost investment in Egypt’s ailing economy.
 
The forum resulted in Gulf investors committing to launch a total of 66 new projects in Egypt, according to state news agency MENA.
 
Gulf Arab governments expressed the will to pour billions of dollars into ally Egypt to prop up its economy, but remain hesitant due to the country’s unstable political condition.
 
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates came to Egypt's aid after the ouster of former Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in July, following mass protests against his rule.
 
Battered economy
 
The oil-producing states, deeply distrustful of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, pledged over $12 billion to help an economy that has been battered by political upheaval since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
At the two-day form this week, officials promised to pay back some of the $6 billion Egypt owes foreign oil firms, reform legislation that hurts investors, and reduce the country's cumbersome bureaucracy.
 
Saleh said that Egyptian economic and business legislation will go through a phase of adjustments to attract more investments, in statements quoted by Ahram Online.
 
"The Gulf members at the conference stated that they face investment troubles in more than 17 countries worldwide, which means that Egypt is not the only state with foreign investment difficulties," Saleh said.
 
For private Gulf Arab investors, whose businesses in Egypt faced legal challenges after Mubarak's overthrow, a return will only come with guarantees that their money will be safe.
 
"We really need to overcome these uncertainties to make meaningful investment in Egypt. I am more optimistic but cautious ... They have to act quickly," said Omar al-Futtaim, CEO and Vice Chairman of al-Futtaim Real Estate of the United Arab Emirates.
 
"To attract big investment, it's a need [to have] an attractive environment,... a lot of transparency, especially when it comes to law and regulation, and enforcement of agreements."

The Most Despised People in the World

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 07 December 2013 21:01
Two Saints church Alexandria, Egypt 1/1/2011The most persecuted group in the world today is Christians. Christians in Nigeria, Egypt, Syria and other nations are murdered, raped, kidnapped, enslaved and persecuted on a daily basis. The reason for the vast majority of all of this violence is that they are Christian among Muslims.
 
But their abuse does not stop with the violence. The perpetrators of violence are measured in the thousands, but the greatest abuse is at the hands of those who should demand that the violence stop. The silence in the face this persecution is denial and justification. The persecutors are few, but the deniers are in the billions.
 
Christians are enjoined to care for all persecuted people, but in particular, they are to care for their own brothers and sisters. They manage to ignore the persecution by doing good works, such as care for the poor. Christians have compassion but no courage to face the enemy who kills them.
In Nashville, TN (the buckle on the Bible belt) the favorite indoor sport for those who should be dealing with the enemy, Islam, is going to Family of Abraham events and bridge building dialogues where they dance to the tune of Muslims. There is no problem of meeting with Islam, but the rules of engagement are that nothing will be said that offends Islam.
 
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, an injured man is on the side of the road. Two religious leaders pass him by on the other side of the road. They don’t harm the injured man, they just ignore him. This is the same thing that Christian leaders do at dialogues such as Family of Abraham. They meet with Muslims who adhere to a doctrine that includes killing Christians. But, the leaders will not bring up the Islamic persecution to them. The Christian leadership response to murder of their brothers and sisters is silence. They pass by on the other side of the road. Their silence is consent.
 
But Christians are not the only deniers. Normally, Jews are quick to step forward in the area of charity and support of victims, but not so with persecuted Christians. Some of this denial may be due to a dislike of Christianity, but Jews are no quicker to help their own. If you go to thereligionofpeace.com you will find an amazing data base of jihad attacks since 9/11. The current number of attacks is in excess of 22,000 attacks. It is very instructive to parse the data and see what are the top four nations of jihad attacks. When you put the data on a per capita basis, you get the following chart:
 
Read this chart by religion: Jews, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus. So Jews are the victims of violence by Islam, but the Jews of America love to go to Family of Abraham events and be as silent as the Christians.
But what about the most sensitive victim group – the black American? Victim-ology is the dogma of a myriad black “civil rights” groups with their high priests of race hustles such as Al Sharpton. The most persecuted Christians are in Africa. But the civil rights hustlers of America just love to hang with Muslims as their brothers. All of those dead Africans? Not a problem for African Americans.
It is surprising how many Buddhists are being killed in jihad, but is it a surprise that Buddhists never talk about it? And aside from a few Hindu activists, never a word is heard from the Hindu community about their deaths by jihad.
 
The deaths in the Philippines are Catholics and what does Pope Francis say about Islam? He says,
Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.
 
Oh, I see. Over 1400 years of Christian deaths at the hands of jihadists means that they were not true Muslims and that the 22,000 jihadic attacks since 9/11 are not authentic. The annihilation of Christianity in Turkey, Middle East and Africa is not the result of “proper reading of the Koran”. The Pope is the perfect candidate for magical thinking and idiot compassion. And notice the little hate speech riff: “avoid hateful generalizations”. Pope Francis, do you mean generalizations such as conclusions that result from reading the Koran, the Sunna, the Sharia and a 1400 year history of the murder of all kinds of Kafirs (non-Muslims)?
But, in his own way, Pope Francis is the leader of all Christians. He just happens to have on more elaborate clothing as he practices denial.
 
So, it turns out that Christians are not the most despised group of people in the world. They just happen to be the largest subgroup. The most despised group in the world is the victim of Islam. And whether it is a dead Christian congregation, a murdered apostate, a sad Muslim woman with FGM, or any other victim of jihad, no one will speak out for the victim and against the perpetrator. All leaders share in the shame of being ignorant cowards practicing idiot compassion.
 
How is this to stop? Well, being polite won’t help, because if polite worked, the problem would be solved. The key to our response is that we have the high moral ground. We must oppose the oppressor, Islam, and stand with the oppressed – Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and all others who are oppressed by jihad. Our opponents, the deniers, support the oppressor, Islam, and ignore and suppress the fate of the victims. The deniers are evil, period.
If you are a Christian, get some allies, and come up with a program about the persecuted church.

The program could be bringing in some persecuted Christians, such as Copts, to speak to Sunday school classes or doing a long term study of the Armenian holocaust in 20th century Turkey. When you go to leadership, do not ask permission or make a request. Make demands and if those demands are not met, then some form of protest inside your church must be launched.
 
Stand up at services and protest, hand out brochures, do whatever it takes until “leadership” agrees to not pass by on the other side of the road and neglect the dead Christians. Point out their moral position is wrong and evil. Do not be shy. Ask them to use scripture to morally justify their denial and ignorance. Be respectful, but firm and do not stop until good prevails.
 
This is a moral battle and if you are not a Christian, you should do the same in other venues. A possible venue is the local media. Make demands to recognize the victims of jihad and if they are not met, make a protest. Public protest is a powerful tool for change. We must acknowledge the world’s largest human rights tragedy. Being nice is the road to civilizational annihilation.
 
Bill WarnerBill Warner is the director of Center for the Study of Political Islam.
He holds a PhD in physics and math, NC State University, 1968. He has been a university professor, businessman, and applied physicist. 

Egypt begins revoking citizenship of Hamas leaders

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 15:56
Mahmoud ZaharOne of the Hamas leaders who received an Egyptian passport was Mahmoud Zahar, who was born to an Egyptian mother.
 
The Egyptian authorities have begun revoking the citizenship of Hamas leaders, according to reports in Palestinian and Egyptian media outlets.
 
The move is seen in the context of intensifying tensions between Egypt and Hamas in the aftermath of the downfall of deposed President Mohammed Morsi’s regime.
 
Under Morsi’s rule, the Egyptian authorities granted Egyptian citizenship to thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, including top Hamas officials.
 
One of the Hamas leaders who received an Egyptian passport was Mahmoud Zahar, who was born to an Egyptian mother.
 
The Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported that the Egyptian authorities have taken effective measures to revoke the citizenship of Zahar and many other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
 
The paper quoted an Egyptian source as saying that the latest measure targeted Palestinians who are “affiliated with certain Palestinian political parties or those who are connected to outlawed groups in Egypt.”
 
The source pointed out that Egyptian law prohibits those who obtain Egyptian citizenship from engaging in political activities or membership in political parties in the first five years.
 
Palestinian sources claimed last year that the Egyptian authorizes had agreed to grant citizenship to more than 50,000 Palestinians who were born to Egyptian mothers.
 
Last month, the Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabe revealed that Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim turned down a request by members of Zahar’s family to receive Egyptian citizenship.
 
The paper said that the decision was taken for “security reasons.” The decision applied to Zahar’s daughter, Huda, and his nephews, Abdullah and Ahmed.
 
Zahar confirmed last year that he had been granted Egyptian citizenship. He said that he was also planning to vote in the Egyptian presidential election. 

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Opposes New Constitution

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 03 December 2013 08:44
Brotherhood Challenges  Seizing Group FundsEgypt's Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the country's new constitution, nearly half a year since the ouster of Brotherhood-backed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
 
138 of the 247 articles of the draft new constitution, which has been deemed controversial even by secular opponents of the Brotherhood, was approved by a panel of 50 yesterday. The panel included groups who were left out of deliberations over the previous charter tabled by Morsi, including the Coptic Church and other secular representatives of civil society and political groups.
 
It includes just two Islamists, neither of whom is from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Part of the resistance it has met is due to the fact that it preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases.
 
Article 204 stipulates that "no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel." However, opponents say that even under such terms the constitution provides a very wide scope for the military to try civilians - including activists - in military courts.
 
Another main article approved was one forbidding the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds - although yet another aticle stipulates that Islamic sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.
 
It will be put to a national referendum early next year as the first step in a "democratic transition" promised by the interim government headed by military strongman General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
 
The referendum is set be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2014.
 
But pro-Brotherhood demonstrators protested angrily in Cairo's Tahrir Square, shouting "the people want the fall of the regime" - the slogan of popular protest movements which sprung up during 2011 at the start of the so-called "Arab Spring".
 
Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, following which the army sealed off the square, according to local sources.
 
Tahrir has been at the center of the various mass-protests which brought down two successive Egyptian presidents - Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and Mohammed Morsi two years later.

Will General Sisi Be the Next President of Egypt?

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 02 December 2013 18:13
1General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defence minister AFPSisi's reaction to the crisis with the Obama Administration has helped build up his credentials as a daring Egyptian nationalist who does not retreat before a superpower - among other things.
 
Since the ousting of President Morsi on July 3, 2013, the issue of who will be the next elected President of Egypt has been at the center of attention in Egypt and abroad. Morsi’s presidency has proven the extent to which an Egyptian president can influence the course of the country and shape its domestic and foreign policy. Because of this, one can easily understand the amount of energy devoted by analysts of the Egyptian scene in order to try and decipher the intentions of General Abd el Fattah el-Sisi, the actual strongman of Egypt.
 
Sisi holds the combined titles of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, first Deputy of the Prime Minister, and Minister of Defense and Military Production. He is the man who led the overthrow of President Morsi. Since August 14, he has conducted a ferocious crackdown (only parallel to the crackdown performed by Gamal Abd el Nasser in 1954 against the Brotherhood) aimed at eliminating the political power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. And unlike his predecessors, Sisi is waging a merciless campaign against jihadi fighters in the Sinai Peninsula in order to restore Egypt’s sovereignty in the desert while drastically reducing Hamas’ power in the Gaza Strip.
 
Sisi has been very murky about his future plans, denying through the army spokesman any intention of running for the presidency in early 2014. However, events on the ground seem to show that the general is preparing himself for the presidency because this is the only viable choice for him and the military establishment. In theory, Sisi could decide to stay in his position under a newly elected president and enjoy his powers as he is doing today, but he could also suffer the fate of his predecessor, Field Marshal Tantawi, who had his career terminated with the stroke of a pen. Sisi does not want to alienate his opponents by eying the presidency too early and creating a situation in which he would have to justify himself.
 
Savior of Egypt
The course of events in Egypt seems to lead to a situation in which Sisi will be “called to the flag” as a savior in order to salvage Egypt from its enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, and lead the country not only as an Egyptian nationalist but as an Arab hero. In fact, if Egypt’s mainstream media and political power circles could have voted by now, then Sisi would be president with almost no challengers.
 
No observer of the Egyptian scene can ignore the publicity campaign, partially orchestrated by the authorities, singing Sisi’s praises, which has been happening for several weeks. Between TV commercials used to advertise food products, groups on social networking sites and posters in the street, Egypt seems to have “Sisi fever.” Talk shows and newspaper columns have been advocating the idea of the general running for president in order to fight the terrorist threat that they say the country is facing. Local media are also buzzing about the widespread support for a Sisi presidency. In fact, Sisi has no real competitor. Most of the other potential candidates – Amr Moussa, Ahmad Shafik, Hamdeen Sabahi, Abd el Muneim Aboul Foutouh – have declared that if Sisi would run for president, they would retract their candidacies.
 
Recently a number of campaigns have been launched calling on the general to run for president. The campaigns are called “Complete Your Favor,” “A Nation’s Demand,” and “Al-Sisi for President.” Their aim is to circulate petitions with the hope that 30 million signatures will convince Sisi to run, just as the millions of signatures convinced him to act against Morsi.
 
Nasser’s Heir
No doubt the “Sisi fever” is being fueled partly by Sisi himself or by people around him who support him. These supporters stress his charisma, his popularity, and his authoritative demeanor. They also emphasize that Sisi is someone who makes tough, harsh, and unpopular decisions and yet at the same time presents himself as “guardian of the people’s will” and delivers colloquial and sentimental speeches to the nation.
 
More interesting is the concentrated effort to picture Sisi as the political heir of the iconic President Gamal Abd el Nasser. Sisi himself has revived the Nasserist cult by participating in the 43rd memorial ceremony of Nasser’s death. Sisi has also allowed posters to spread with his picture adjacent to the venerated president, invited Nasser’s son and daughter to official ceremonies (such as the one held to commemorate the “October War”), and used Nasser’s “magic words” in his speeches. When these phrases were pronounced by Sisi, Egyptians were able to see him as the successor to Nasser, the Egyptian leader who fought the Muslim Brotherhood domestically and led Egypt to the leadership of the Arab World and the non-aligned community.
 
In a way, Sisi’s revival of Nasser’s memory was a way for him to satisfy deeply buried longings for an era of Egyptian prominence in Arab and world politics. Nasser’s family has mobilized in order to give Sisi the legitimacy to present himself as the political successor of Nasser. Nasser’s daughter Huda wrote an open letter to Sisi urging him to “step forward and take responsibility for the destiny that is yours.” The list of personalities invited to the podium for the ceremony marking Egypt’s “victory” in the “October War” included Abd el Hakim Abd el Nasser (son of President Nasser), Jihan Sadat (the wife of assassinated President Anwar Sadat),  Field Marshal Tantawi, and other dignitaries from the Arab world. The only person missing was former Chief of Staff Samy Anan, but this was likely due to the fact that Anan had presented himself as a candidate for the presidency in 2014. For the Egyptians, Sisi appeared as a unifier, a leader that conceded to his predecessors their rightful place in Egypt’s history. In fact, Sisi was presenting his legitimacy as the rightful leader of Egypt not only to his Egyptian compatriots but also toward the U.S. administration, which is questioning his legitimacy and presenting him as the leader of a coup and a usurper of power.
 
The Nasserist revival presents a challenge. Nasser’s relations with the United States were notoriously bad, as was his attitude toward Israel. Sisi has not challenged the peace treaty with Israel and most probably will not do so as long as his main concern remains the consolidation of his regime and the quelling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s resistance. Sisi, as head of Military Intelligence, knows the intricacies of Egyptian-Israeli security relations and is well aware that the issue of insecurity in Sinai raised by Israel is primarily directed against the stability of the Egyptian regime. As long as Israel agrees to the Egyptian requests to beef up its forces in Sinai in order to fight the jihadists – and is therefore willing to overlook the limitations on Egyptian troop levels imposed by the peace treaty – Sisi has no reason to change the rules of the game with Israel.
 
Anger at U.S. Policy
A new, unexpected element has come into the equation between Egypt and Israel. For years, Egyptians were used to hearing from the U.S. that continuation of American financial assistance to Egypt requires honoring the peace treaty with Israel. However, following Morsi’s ousting, the United States decided to cut its financial aid to Egypt and postpone the delivery of weapon systems already ordered by Egypt. By doing so, the United States has overturned the longstanding correlation between financial assistance and Egypt’s honoring of the peace treaty, leaving the Egyptians to wonder now what the U.S. reaction would be if Egypt were to question its peace treaty with Israel, given that American financial leverage could disappear.
 
The $14 billion that Saudi Arabia and the UAE transferred to Egypt immediately after Sisi’s takeover, and the $40 billion promised in economic aid, are a reminder to the United States and others that Egypt may not be in need of such conditional financial assistance. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the first to understand the change in Egypt. They see Sisi as a potential ally and protector against the growing threat of Iran in the Gulf area at a time when the U.S. interest in the area fades away and is being replaced by a drive to restore relations with Iran. In the face of Egypt’s serious socio-economic problems compounded by unrest, financial aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE could become a decisive factor for Egypt in consolidating the situation in the country under army leadership.
 
Moscow has also been paying attention to the unexpected Saudi-Egyptian alliance, as shown, for example, by the recent visit of the director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, Prince Bandar, to Moscow and his exhaustive four-hour conversation with Russian President Putin. It is interesting that Prince Bandar did not respond to a similar invitation from Washington, which speaks indirectly of Riyadh’s dissatisfaction with U.S. policy in the Middle East.
 
President Obama prefers not to publicly support the Egyptian military regime. After the events of August 14, he attempted to call General Sisi. However, according to some sources, Sisi did not take Obama’s call. Instead, the Egyptians suggested that the White House call the interim president, Adly Mansour, which the Americans, in turn, declined to do.
 
Observers who follow the Egyptian scene are repeatedly stressing the change in the mood of the Egyptians towards the United States, from friendship and admiration to open hostility. Israel also has been suffering from this change in the mood towards the United States. The U.S. attitude (described by Sisi himself as turning its back on the Egyptians) is fueling his leadership exactly as occurred decades ago, when Nasser used CIA money to build a radio tower in Cairo that became the beacon of anti-Americanism in the region. In fact, the crisis with the Obama Administration and Sisi’s reaction to it has helped build up his leadership credentials as a daring Egyptian nationalist who does not retreat before a superpower – particularly one that so openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.
 
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
 
The writer, a special Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and deputy head for assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence

Egypt’s New Draft Constitution Approved

Category: News
Created on Monday, 02 December 2013 12:25
MusaEgypt’s new draft constitution was approved Sunday for a referendum billed as the first stage in a “democratic transition” promised by military-installed authorities after Islamist president Mohammed Morsi’s July ouster.
 
“Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television, according to the AFP news agency.
 
The revised charter preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases. This has angered secular groups that backed the military in ousting  Morsi.
 
The constitution will be put to a popular referendum early next year in the first step in a “democratic transition” promised by authorities.
 
This is set to be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2014.
 
On Saturday’s first day of voting the 50-member panel approved 138 of the 247 articles of the draft charter.
 
Those articles included one stipulating that Islamic sharia law will be the main source of legislation, as was also the case during the regime of toppled ruler Hosni Mubarak.
 
The other main article approved was one forbidding the formation of religious parties or parties based on religious grounds.
 
Article 204, according to AFP, says that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.”
 
Secular artists have demonstrated against the provision, saying it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents. Activists and rights groups say that the draft charter also fails to curb the powers and privileges of the military.
 
The interim authorities suspended the previous constitution written under Morsi’s presidency after his removal on July 3. That charter was drafted by a 100-member panel that was dominated by his Islamist allies.
 
The current panel includes representatives from civil society, political parties, institutions such as the army and police, and the Coptic Church.
 
It includes just two Islamists, neither of whom is from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
 
There have been conflicting reports over when the referendum over the amended constitution will be held. Last week the panel said the referendum will be held in December, while interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has the referendum would be held in the second half of January.
 
The unrest that has gripped Egypt since before Mubarak’s ouster has only worsened in the months that have passed since Morsi was ousted.
 
Egypt has witnessed protests and clashes that have left scores dead since Morsi’s ouster. The worst violence was in August, when police forcibly dispersed two protest camps set up by Morsi supporters.
 
Authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt police break up Islamist protest in Tahrir

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 December 2013 17:39
Supporters of ousted Mohammad Murs File-ReutersEgyptian security forces stormed Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday after firing tear gas to disperse Islamist protesters, who entered the epicenter of the country’s previous uprisings for the first time in over a month.
 
The protesters, who have long called for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist President Mohammmd Mursi, burned a police car and clashed with security forces, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
 
While the army’s armored vehicles were deployed in the square, police fired tear gas at the some-2,000 protesters gathered.
 
The government recently issued a controversial law banning protests held without prior police authorization. The Muslim Brotherhood and its other Islamist allies do not recognize the government and its laws.
 
But the law has led to fractures within government supporters, after a number of liberal youth activists were detained for protesting without permits.
 
On Sunday, authorities freed a prominent secular activist but extended the detention of another after the two were arrested for holding unauthorized demonstrations, Agence France-Presse reported judicial sources as saying.
 
Spearheading the revolt
 
Ahmed Maher, founder of the April 6 movement which was one of the main groups that spearheaded the revolt against Mubarak in 2011, had been released, the sources said.
 
But Alaa Abdel Fattah, another prominent secular activist who had been arrested at his home late Thursday, was being detained for another 15 days, they said.
 
Maher had turned himself in at a Cairo court on Saturday.
 
Abdel Fattah’s detention was extended because he was accused of breaking the protest law, inciting protesters to riot, and cutting of roads and beating a police officer.
 
Abdel Fattah held a demonstration against a provision in the draft constitution allowing military trials of civilians.
 
On Sunday, the 50-member panel that drafted the new charter will resume voting on the provisions concerning the military’s powers and privileges in the country.

Human Rights Watch urges Egypt to free Mursi aides

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 01 December 2013 17:10
Morsi aidesHuman Rights Watch urged Sunday Egypt’s military-installed government to free five aides of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, who have been detained since July without any legal basis.
 
“Almost five months later, the government has yet to formally acknowledge their detention or disclose their fate or whereabouts, conditions that constitute enforced disappearance,” the rights watchdog said in a statement,
 
The five men - Essam el-Haddad, Ayman Ali, Abdelmeguid el-Meshaly, Khaled el-Qazzaz, and Ayman el-Serafy - were arrested following Mursi’s ouster by the military on July 3 after mass protests against his one-year rule.
 
HRW says they are being held at an undisclosed location without judicial process and with very little outside contact since then, amid a crackdown by Egyptian authorities on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
 
“What kind of roadmap is this where a military-backed government can brazenly disappear former presidential aides for 150 days without any explanation?” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of HRW in a statement.
 
“Forcibly disappearing people for months on end doesn’t inspire confidence that this government intends to follow the rule of law,” she said.
 
HRW quoted Qazzaz’s wife saying that the military was holding the five men together “in a single room, allowing them outside for only one hour a day and denying them access to phones or the Internet.”
 
Leverage
 
It said that relatives of the detainees told HRW that they feared the government was “detaining their relatives to use as leverage for future negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
 
Qazzaz’s sister, Mona el-Qazzaz, told HRW she believed her brother was being “kept in the fridge” for use as a negotiating lever with the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
“The prolonged enforced disappearance of anyone is a crime, pure and simple,” Whitson said. “The Egyptian authorities should immediately free them unconditionally.”
 
More than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands more arrested, mostly Islamists, since Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown against Mursi supporters in mid-August.

Egypt panel begins vote on new charter

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 30 November 2013 20:06
Members of Constituent AssemblyA 50-member panel drafting Egypt’s new constitution began on Saturday voting on the new charter seen by some as strengthening the army’s position in the country’s future political life.
 
The panel approved the charter’s preamble and the a number of introductory Articles, including Article 2 which states that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation.
 
The representative of the Salafist Nour Party walked out of the voting session, in what the media’s official Nader Bakkar said did not amount to a complete withdrawal from the panel.
 
“Being absent from voting on an Article does not mean withdrawing form the panel,” Bakkar told Al Arabiya News Channel.
 
The draft version of the constitution published by the state-run al-Ahram newspaper on Thursday says the choice of defense minister must be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for a period of eight years from the time the constitution is passed.
 
It also allows military trials for civilians accused of “direct attacks” on the armed forces.
 
Dissenters fear this provision could be interpreted expansively to target protesters, journalists and dissidents.
 
Article 203 says that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.”
 
It also ensures that the military’s budget remains beyond civilian scrutiny.
 
One human rights lawyer said the document reinforces the army’s status of being “a state inside a state.”
 
“This means that the army will be a state inside the state,” human rights lawyer Gamal Eid told Reuters.
 
But the chairman of the panel, Amr Moussa, told reporters that the articles concerning the army are “transitional due to the current condition.”
 
He said there was a “full agreement” between the 50 committee members on the document.
 
“The vote on the draft will last one or two days,” state media quoted the panel’s deputy head, Kamal al-Helbawi, as saying, before members began voting later on Saturday.
 
The panel began work on drafting the basic law at the beginning of September.
 
The road map stipulates that a referendum on the constitution be held by the end of the year, but government officials have said this is now expected in the second half of January.
 
Its adoption will be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections due to take place by the middle of 2014.
 
Egypt’s interim rulers suspended the previous constitution after Mursi was removed following just one year in office. That charter had been hastily drafted by a 100-member panel dominated by Islamists during Mursi's presidency.
 
The current panel includes just two Islamists, neither of whom is from Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement which has been the target of a sweeping government crackdown that has seen more than 1,000 people killed.

Clashes and flames in fresh Egypt unrest

Category: News
Created on Friday, 29 November 2013 20:39
A police station was set on fire in CairoA police station was set on fire in Cairo and more than 180 protesters arrested when heavy clashes erupted between supporters of ousted President Mohammad Mursi and security forces, the interior ministry said.
 
Mursi's supporters, who took to the streets after Friday prayers, defied a new protest law banning protests without a prior police permit.
 
Police used tear gas against protesters in the capital’s Mohandessin district and on a key road leading to the pyramids, Agence France-Presse reported.
 
Protesters responded by throwing stones and burning tyres, security officials said. Police dispersed protests also in the cities of Alexandria, Suez, Mahalla and Qena.
 
A police station in the Giza’s Talebiya area was set on fire, the Daily Youm7 reported, showing a video of the building in flames.
Footage showed a protester throwing documents into a large fire outside of the building.
 
Since Mursi’s ouster, his supporters have held almost daily rallies across the country demanding his reinstatement.
 
One student was killed and 21 injured in clashes that took place between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and official security forces around the University of Cairo on Thursday, the Health Ministry said.
 
The Interior Ministry had warned against unauthorized demonstrations under a new protest law recently.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood said they would not respect the law and would continue with their protests without seeking to obtain police permits.
 
Requesting a police permit would amount to a de-facto recognition of the authorities, which the Islamist group rejects as illegitimate.
Friday protests were called for to mark 100 days since the killings of a number of prisoners at Abu Zaabal prison in northern Egypt.
 
The alliance has called for nationwide protests on Saturday morning to show support for a group of girls who were handed heavy jail terms this week for participating in an anti-government protest.
 
The girls, between 14 and 21 years of age, were part of a group called “7am” which stages demonstrations early in the morning, before heading to schools.
 
Amnesty International called for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained females, reported AFP.

Leading Anti-Mubarak Activist Arrested in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Friday, 29 November 2013 15:53
Alaa Abdel-FattahEgyptian police arrested on Thursday a leading political activist who was active in the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Ahram reports.
 
The activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, was arrested after the prosecutor ordered he be detained for inciting protests.
 
Abdel-Fattah's wife, Manal Hassan, tweeted that policemen beat and insulted her while arresting her husband, in addition to taking their laptops and cellphones.
 
Alaa Abdel-Fattah was a symbol of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.
 
According to Al-Ahram, he was ordered arrested after taking part in protests organized in defiance of a new law that imposes heavy restrictions on demonstrations.
 
On Sunday, Egypt's interim president, signed the new law which stipulates that any group that attempts to hold a public gathering without permits will find its members carted off to prison.
 
The new law was met with anger by protesters who took to the streets in defiance of the new orders.
 
Egypt has been in turmoil since Mubarak’s ouster, but things have gotten worse in recent months since his successor, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted in July.
 
More than 1,000 people, mainly Morsi supporters, have been killed since July 3 when he was ousted and authorities have rounded up some 2,000 Islamists, including most of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member.
 
The Egyptian government just recently lifted a state of emergency that was declared on August 14, the day of the crackdown on the protesters.
 
On Wednesday, a court in Egypt sentenced 21 female supporters of Morsi to 11 years in prison.
 
They were found guilty of multiple charges, including belonging to a terrorist group, obstructing traffic, sabotage and using force at a protest in the city of Alexandria last month.

Mubarak to Face New Trial in Egypt

Category: News
Created on Monday, 25 November 2013 19:48
MubarakEgypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons will face a new trial for using state funds to acquire personal property, judicial sources said Sunday, according to AFP.
 
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, are accused of using 125 million Egyptian pounds ($18 million), which had been allocated for presidential palaces by the ministry of housing, for personal purchases.
 
Four others are accused in the same case, the sources said, adding that the date for the trial has yet to be set.
 
Mubarak is already facing a retrial on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his more than three decades of rule.
 
His sons are also on trial in a separate corruption case.
 
Mubarak and his former interior minister Habib al-Adly were sentenced to life in prison in June of 2012 for failing to prevent the deaths of over 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that began on January 25, 2011.
 
The court later accepted Mubarak’s appeal and ordered a retrial, but the former President remained behind bars because other corruption charges were filed against him. In August, following the ouster of Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi, an Egyptian court ordered Mubarak’s release, after these charges were dismissed.
 
Mubarak was subsequently released from prison and taken to a military International Medical Center.

Ashraf Ramelah,joins Rick Wiles to discuss Barack Obama's longstanding allegiance to MB in Egypt

Category: Interviews
Created on Sunday, 24 November 2013 14:53


Rick WilesAshraf Ramelah, President and founder of "Voice of the Copts," joins Rick to discuss Barack Obama's longstanding allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and how recent developments in the Mohamed Morsi trial could further implicate his direct involvement with the terrorist organization. Later in the program, attorney and Retired Navy Commander, John B. Wells, returns to discuss his ongoing legal battle against Christian persecution in the military and what people can do to deter Obama's communist purge of the armed forces

   

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Egypt: three killed in nationwide protests

Category: News
Created on Friday, 22 November 2013 14:59
Clashes across Egypt on Friday left at least three killed including one child as thousands of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi rallied to mark 100 days since a deadly crackdown on Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda sit-ins.
 
The 10-year-old boy was killed by gunfire in the city of Suez during clashes between supporters and opponents of Mursi, Al Arabiya Television reported.
 
Samir el-Gamal was hit by a bullet in the back of the head while he was walking with his mother near the site of the clashes, a witness told AFP.
 
El-Gamal’s family accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being responsible for the death, the state news agency MENA reported.
 
The Friday rallies were called for by the anti-coup coalition known as the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy.
 
Muslim Brotherhood protesting after 100 days crackdown of RabaahAFP
 
Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares were sites of a brutal crackdown by security forces on Mursi’s supporters on Aug. 14. Hundreds of people were killed in some of the worst carnage in Egypt's modern history.
 
Since the bloody Aug. 14 crackdown, more than 1,000 people have been killed across Egypt, while more than 2,000, mostly Islamists, have been detained.
 
Muslim Brotherhood protesters demand the reinstatement of Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, who was deposed by the military following mass protests against him in July.

Egypt to Receive $4 Billion in Russian Arms

Category: Reports
Created on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 20:08
Illustration- Black Hawk helicopterA Kuwaiti newspaper reported Wednesday that Russia was set to transfer billions of dollars worth of arms to Egypt before the end of the year. According to the report in the Al Rei newspaper, the Russian arms package is designed to specifically enable Egypt to at least achieve parity with the IDF.
 
Egyptian media on Wednesday quoted a top Russian arms official, Sergei Tshimisov as saying that Russia would be completing its transfer of an air defense system to Egypt within days. Among the items that are part of the deal are advanced helicopters and Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets, Tshimisov said at an event in Dubai.
 
Other defensive systems will make their way to Cairo in the coming months, Russian sources said. Among them were surface to air missiles that could knock out targets up to an altitude of 15 kilometers.
 
When asked about how Russia expected Egypt – which is broke – to pay for the arms, Tshimisov said that Moscow was prepared to be “very flexible” in its payment conditions, as Moscow was very interested in solidifying its relationship with Cairo.
 
A Russian report Wednesday said that the overall deal was worth $4 billion, but that Egypt had been asked to pay just half that. Egyptian sources said that the money would most likely come from donations to Cairo from Gulf states.
 
Russia's "flexibility" may indicate that the Kremlin's objectives in securing the deal - an outcome of a recent visit to Cairo by its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - were not merely financial. 
 
The past few months have seen a resurgence in Russia's previously minor influence in the Middle East and northern Africa, as relations between the US and its traditional Arab allies have cooled considerably, over concerns about the Obama administration's perceived weakness over instability in Syria and Egypt, and its hasty pursuit of detente with Iran.

Senior Security Officer Shot Dead in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Monday, 18 November 2013 11:34
Mohammed MabroukUnknown gunmen shot and killed a senior national security officer in Cairo late Sunday as he headed to his office, reports The Associated Press.
 
A statement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry said that gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Lt. Col. Mohammed Mabrouk of the national security agency, killing him on the spot near his home in the eastern Cairo suburb of Nasr City.
 
Mabrouk reportedly worked in the agency's branch in charge of monitoring Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
He is one of the most senior security officers to be targeted and killed in Cairo in the violence that has gripped Egypt since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.
 
A security official quoted by AP said Mabrouk was hit by seven bullets in his chest and head fired by gunmen whom witnesses described as masked.
 
The incident comes just three days after the government lifted a state of emergency that was declared on August 14, the day the army - which had installed an interim government - dispersed two Islamist protest camps, killing hundreds of protesters.
 
In September, Egypt extended it by two months, raising the ire of the United States, which urged Egypt to lift the state of emergency and pressed it "to create an atmosphere where Egyptians on all sides can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and expression."
 
Since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has been hit by a spiral of violence. Suspected Islamist supporters of Morsi have torched dozens of churches and police stations in retaliation.
 
The country’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide car bomber several months ago.
 
The Sinai Peninsula has been of particular concern, since it has become increasingly lawless since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and the terror attacks have only increased since Morsi’s removal.
 
The Egyptian armed forces have launched large scale military operations against terrorists in Sinai in an attempt to suppress the insurgency.

Egypt’s Brotherhood offers talks to ‘exit’ post-Mursi crisis

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 November 2013 17:32
Muslim Brotherhood head quratersAn Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday offered negotiations to end the deadly tumult since Egyptian president Mohammad Mursi’s overthrow, without explicitly insisting on his reinstatement, reported Agence France-Presse.
 
The negotiation did not explicitly insist on his return but rather insisted on keeping up “peaceful opposition” and said it wanted a “consensus for the public good of the country.”
 
According to a released statement, the collation “calls on all revolutionary forces and political parties and patriotic figures to enter a deep dialogue on exiting the current crisis”
 
The coalition proposed conditions to enter the dialogue such as the release of Islamist prisoners and the reopening of Islamist broadcast channels that were closed after Mursi’s overthrow.
 
They coalition further demanded “a return to constitutional legitimacy and the democratic process with the participation of all political groups, without one group monopolizing the process or excluding any group.”

Egypt Opens Bids For Nuclear Plants

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 November 2013 16:38
plantA spokesman for Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Energy announced plans on Thursday to issue an international tender in January for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Dabaa, near the Mediterranean coast.
 
Egypt put its nuclear program on hold in 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in Ukraine. Twenty years later, an announced renewal of the program was again put on hold when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted during the "Arab spring."
 
Aktham Abouelela, a spokesman for the energy ministry, said the plant "will be a pressurized water reactor with a capacity of 950 to 1,650 megawatts. The station will have two units," according to Business Report.
 
Meanwhile, just this Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Egypt to discuss an arms deal, which reportedly will see Egypt purchase $15 billion worth of military equipment under partial Saudi funding.
 
Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been falling out with the US of late, particularly after the US partially froze $250 million in military aid to Egypt following the unrest in the country since former President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in July.
 
Iran's nuclear program has raised fears of a Middle East nuclear arms race. A BBC report last week revealed that Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistan's nuclear weapons projects and could potentially obtain a nuclear weapon very quickly.

Egypt and Russia Hold 'Historic' Talks

Category: News
Created on Saturday, 16 November 2013 16:21
Russian FM Sergei LavrovSigns of a potential major alliance shift were seen Thursday as high level talks with the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu occurred in Egypt. The talks ended without any announced arms deals, but with promises of new strategic relations.
 
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's army chief and defense minister, said the visit signified "historic strategic relations via starting a new era of constructive, fruitful co-operation on the military level," reports Al Jazeera.
 
One Egyptian analyst, Yasser El-Shimy of the International Crisis Group, said the move was "meant to send a message to say Egypt has options, and that if the United States wishes to maintain its strategic alliance with Egypt, it will have to drop the conditions it attaches to the military aid."
 
The US froze $250 million in military aid to Egypt recently following the instability and crackdown on opposition since former President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in July.
 
Meanwhile Lavrov said during the visit "we respect Egypt's sovereignty and the rights of Egyptian people to determine their future," according to BBC.
 
Some analysts posit that the visit doesn't necessarily signify a Russian replacement of the US military alliance.
 
Mohamed Gomaa, a political analyst at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al Arabiya that "Egypt’s foreign affairs are being restructured, but relations with Russia shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for ties with the United States," adding “the current Egyptian decision-makers have no intention to drift away from the U.S. at this period."
 
In 1979, when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, the US began gifting an annual $1.3 billion in defense and economic aid, and the Nile state shifted from Russia towards America.
 
Currently as rapprochement appears imminent between Egypt and Russia, Gomaa noted that while Russia can be an additional source of military equipment, unlike the US Russia intends to sell weapons, and not give them away for free.

Obama Fallout: Saudis Broker Port Said to Putin's Navy

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Saturday, 09 November 2013 18:59
port saidThe United States may very well have lost Egypt's Port Said to the Russians. It is perfect for Russian warships.
 
Since the beginning of the 19th century, Egypt's Port Said, because of its location near the Suez Canal, has acted as a global city located on the very hub of world commerce.
 
In fact, Rudyard Kipling once said of Port Said "If you truly wish to find someone you have known and who travels, there are two points on the globe you have but to sit and wait, sooner or later your man will come there: the docks of London and Port Said."
 
Using the Suez Canal, it is 7200 miles  (11,600 km) from London to Mumbai.  Without using the Suez Canal, the trip going around South Africa is 12,300 miles (19800 km).  In ordinary life, time is money.  In war, time is victory or death.
 
Just a short while ago,  Port Said welcomed American warships, and allowed them priority passage through the Suez Canal.  At the end of October 2013, the Chief of Russian Military Intelligence General Vacheslay Kondrasco met with Egypt's General Sisi for 3 days, probably  to discuss major new weapons' deals.
 
And in the future, the USS Eisenhower, - and its aircraft carrier strike group of 4 surface and 1 or 2 nuclear submarines - may have to wait a very long time to get to and from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.  The United States may very well have lost Egypt's Port Said to the Russians.
 
On November 2, 2013, in a stunning rebuke to Obama's cut-off of arms and $260 million in cash aid, Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, in a rare interview, warned Egypt would look to new military sources beyond the United States to meet its security needs, and that the United States "would have to deal now with the Arab peoples, not only with Arab governments".
 
Citing the "turbulent" state of the Obama administration's ties with Egypt, its 35-year staunch ally, Fahmy informed Obama, by way of a press interview, that Egypt would have to develop "multiple choices, multiple options" to chart its way forward - including military relationships.
 
Fahmy sent a stark threat to Obama's handling of the post-Morsi Egypt: "If you're going to have interests in the Middle East, you need to have either good relations with the country that is the focus of the Middle East, or at the very least well-managed relations".
 
Fahmy continued, and deftly introduced Egypt's new military source: "That's Cold War mentality. I'm not trying to bring in Russia vis-a-vis America. I'm trying to bring in 10, 20, 30 new partners for Egypt.  The Egyptian government is committed to diversifying its relationship, not at the expense of our friends but over and above ... . This is not a position against an American policy, it's a position that is consistent with Egypt's interests."
 
One wonders why Obama has reacted so negatively to Egypt's secular counter-revolution. After all, the French Revolution went through countless revolutions, counter-revolutions, and counter-counter revolutions over scores of years, and they turned out to be a democracy. But Obama has not only choked off US direct aid, he has quietly assured Egypt is cut off from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid as well.
 
Obama's incendiary reaction to Sisi's counter-revolution seems to indicate a pro-Iran policy of "topple US allies, and support US inimical enemies."
 
Obama understands that without Egypt, the world's most populous Arab Sunni Arab country (85 million people) firmly on Saudi Arabia's side against Iran, Saudi Arabia is dead-man walking.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood wasn't on the Saudis side, to put it mildly. And Obama seems to want the House of Saud and secular Egypt to disappear.Yet aren't secular Egypt and the House of Saud the two pillars of the American Muslim Middle East policy for 30 and 80 years respectively?  Obama has trashed all that..
 
Obama stated his current foreign-policy as clearly as a bell in Chicago in 2002.  Before the US went into Iraq, Obama believed that none of the terror states of Hussein's Iraq, Assad's Syria, or Iran were the problem of the United States.  Then-State Senator Obama explained whom he believed were the true enemies of the United States who needed to be fought, and destroyed.
 
You can hear Obama give the speech if you click here. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99591469
 
"You want a fight, President Bush?
 
"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
 
"You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.
 
"Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair. The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain."
 
Obama couldn't have stated his foreign policy since 2008 any clearer than he did in 2002.  Obama ran on his 2002 speech in 2008, and has been implementing his 2002 speech from 2009 to 2013.
 
Since 2009, Obama has, indeed, been fighting the "battles that [Obama] needs to fight" against the US "so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians. . . ."   Obama has engaged the United States to "willingly join" those battles against Obama's enemies, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptians, and for his allies, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.
 
Obama didn't said outright that his real foreign policy was to strengthen America's enemies and betray Americas allies.  Obama also told everybody they could keep the healthcare plan they liked.  Well,  you can't keep your health insurance, nor can you keep your comparatively moderate Sunni Arab allies.
 
The Saudis have realized that, and are cutting bait with Obama and the US.
 
It seems as though the Saudis have explained it to the Egyptians as well.  For now, Arab Egypt has awakened to the incipient danger of the Persian snake through the venomous tendrils of Iran's Hamas.  The battle of the Persian lackeys, Hamas and Hezbollah, against Fahmy's "Arab peoples" will start to take shape in earnest.
 
The Egyptian generals knew when they took out Morsi that they had crossed the Rubicon in relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.  Obama, by cutting the aid and treating Egyptian secular patriots like common criminals, has sharpened the Egyptian generals' realization that Obama, while courting Iran, is a mortal enemy of not just Egypt, but of the entire Arab world.
 
When the Saudis hinted they were turning away from the United States, did anyone think they were referring only to themselves? No, they were taking the Egyptians and the Suez Canal with them.  And the assets the Saudis and the Egyptians can offer the Russians are huge. Port Said is perfect for Russia huge warships.  With Port Said, Russia will envelope and secure its key eastern Mediterranean asset, Cyprus.
 
The key part of the puzzle is how Russia is going to straddle both camps.  Once Putin sees Obama's pro-Iranian nuclear weapon policy, he may react before Iran has nuclear-weaponized and can threaten Russia's southern flank and its gas monopoly to Europe
.
These are some of seismic shifts that are quaking the Middle East due to the fact that Obama has made good on his 2002 pledge to get rid of the Saudis and the Mubarak Egyptians.
 
As for Israel, Obama knows that with Saudi Arabia and secular Egypt wiped out, and a nuclear-weaponized Iran in control of the world's Persian gulf oil supply, his Zionist problem won't be a problem for much longer.
 
mark langfanMark Langfan
The writer, who writes on security issues, has created an original educational 3d Topographic Map System of Israel to facilitate clear understanding of the dangers facing Israel and its water supply. It has been studied by US lawmakers and can be seen at www.marklangfan.com

Morsi Trial: Return to Tahrir Protests?

Category: News
Created on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 15:06
Supporters and opponents of Morsi clash in Alexandria - AFPTensions heightened considerably in Egypt today (Monday) as the trial for ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammed Morsi began, and was promptly adjourned. Morsi and 14 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood are in court on charges of incitement to murder and violence in the December 2012 presidential palace clashes, which pitched Morsi opponents against his supporters.
 
In light of the seriousness of the situation, and the potential ramifications for Egyptian leadership and regional security, Arutz Sheva interviewed the former Israeli consul in Egypt, Meir Mishan, to evaluate whether or not scenes of protests and violence in Egypt's streets will erupt once again, as they did during the Egyptian revolution some year and a half ago. 
 
Mishan believes that the Muslim Brotherhood will end up accepting the court's decision in any case, mostly on the precedent that they accepted the release of former Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood opponent Hosni Mubarak. This is likely to be the case even despite allegations by Morsi supporters that Morsi's elections were conducted legitimately, Mishan says. 
 
The Egyptian Army has essentially gained the power to "turn back the clock" regarding decisions made about the direction of Egyptian leadership, and Mishan holds that this means that the Brotherhood will be reluctant enough to give up this power to leave the decision at the mercy of the court. 
 
Mishan also speculated that Morsi's trial will extend for at least as long as Mubarak's, and that many appeals can be expected in the foreseeable future. The Egyptian Army's control of the embattled country will last for as long as the trial lasts, meaning that the court may have inherent interests in dragging the trial out for as long as legally possible. 
 
As for violence like the Tahrir Square protests, Mishan claims that it all depends on how the sentencing proceeds. If the trial runs smoothly, he claims, then so will the will of the Egyptian people. 
 
"If there are problems like we saw with Tahrir square, and protests like Tahrir all over Egypt," it will be because of legal problems with the sentencing. "If the sentencing goes as planned, we should not be seeing sights like this," Mishan says. If the outcome aligns with Army expectations - namely, a conviction - Mishan predicts that martial law will hold until the Army can arrange the next elections. 
 
While Mishan points out the convenience for the Egyptian Army to continue ruling over Egypt, Army leaders know that for the nation to continue, they will need international support from the US and other countries, which have stopped providing aid for the time being. The aid would remain permanently frozen if the current situation - a military regime - remains unchanged. 

Kerry Urges Egypt to End State of Emergency

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 November 2013 08:27
John KerryU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Egypt's interim rulers not to extend the state of emergency when it ends later this month, a senior American official said, according to AFP.
 
"He pressed hard on not extending the state of emergency when it expires on November 14," a State Department official told reporters travelling with Kerry.
 
"He said that the crackdown that was underway was inappropriate and inclusivity required that there be an outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and others," the official added.
 
Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour told Kerry he had not really used the powers afforded under the state of emergency other than to impose a night-time curfew, the official said, according to AFP.
 
Although there was no commitment on what the Egyptian government would do, the official said that "the language was positive."
 
The state of emergency was declared on August 14, the day the army -- which had installed an interim government -- dispersed two Islamist protest camps, killing hundreds of protesters.
 
In September, Egypt extended it by two months, raising the ire of the United States, which urged Egypt to lift the state of emergency and pressed it "to create an atmosphere where Egyptians on all sides can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and expression."
 
According to AFP, Kerry also called on Egypt's interim leadership, following the army's July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, to work for greater inclusivity and to protect rights and freedoms.
 
During his visit to Egypt, Kerry also met with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, and said that the freezing of aid to Egypt by the United States is not meant as a “punishment” by Washington.
 
At a joint press conference with Fahmy, Kerry said that the two countries enjoyed good relations regardless of issues of monetary assistance.

Morsi Refuses Prisoners' Uniform, Trial Halted

Category: News
Created on Monday, 04 November 2013 07:11
Bihand bars
 
The first session of the trial of Egypt's ousted ex-President Mohammed Morsi was halted shortly after it began and will not resume until January 8. The panel of judges trying Morsi ended the court session after Morsi refused to wear a prisoner's uniform and due to in-court disruption by the defendants, who were chanting "illegal, illegal.”
 
Morsi refused to take off his suit and wear the white uniform that was worn by ex-president Hosni Mubarak during his own trial, as required by Egyptian law, refusing to accept the court's authority and insisting that he was still the rightful president.
 
He reportedly shouted at judge -- "I am the legal and legitimate president of Egypt!" -- and called for the removal of the military regime.
 
Morsi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood figures face charges of inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in 2012, when he was president.
 
Protests took place Monday outside the court and elsewhere in Cairo.
 
Morsi was ousted by the military in July after millions poured into the streets to protest against his rule.
 
Early on Monday he was airlifted into the Police Academy compound by helicopter, the BBC reported. Other leaders of the Brotherhood, including Essam el-Erian, Mohammed al-Beltagi and Ahmed Abdel Aatie, were said to have been brought in by armored personnel carriers.

Exposed: Names and Identities of Muslim Brotherhood Operatives in U.S.

Category: Op-Eds
Created on Monday, 04 November 2013 06:56
05-03-11El Watan, one of Egypt's most widely circulated and read newspapers, published a report discussing the Muslim Brotherhood's influence over the United States, especially in the context of inciting pro-Brotherhood policies against Egypt's popular June 30 Revolution, which resulted in the ousting of Muhammad Morsi and the Brotherhood from power.
 
Titled (in translation), "With Names, Identities, and Roadmap...  El Watan Exposes Brotherhood Cells in America," it's written by investigative journalist Ahmed al-Tahiri, who begins the report by saying:
In the context of El Watan's ongoing investigation concerning the Brotherhood's cells and lobby inside America that support the regime of the ousted [Morsi], and which intensified their activities to attack and defame the June 30 Revolution, informed sources have disclosed to El Watan newspaper the names and cell entities of the Brotherhood and their roadmap of activities all throughout the United States of America.
 
The sources said that these organizations, which are spread throughout the States, agitated for and were supportive of the decisions taken by Muhammad Morsi's project to "Brotherhoodize" and consolidate power [in Egypt] and gave a favorable opinion to the general American public that Morsi's decisions were welcomed by the public [in Egypt]. 
 
Following the June 30 Revolution, these groups  launched a malicious war in order to incite the American administration to take hostile decisions against Egypt, with the aim of bringing back the Brotherhood to the power.
 
El Watan then goes on to name names, saying that the following activists and entities are Brotherhood operatives working within the United States (reproduced verbatim):
 
Union of Egyptian Imams in North America, represented by Sheikh Muhammad al-Bani
The Egyptian American Foundation for Development
Dr. Khalid Lamada, New York
Dr. Hassan al-Sayah, Virginia
The Egyptian Network in America, led by Dr. Muhammad Helmi
Dr. Akram al-Zand, Sa'ad Foundation
Muhammad al-Khashab, Head of ART channelsin America
Sameh al-Henawi, member, Business Association of America
Dr. Hany Saqr, member, Egyptian Association in America
Dr. Khalid Hassan, Maryland
Dr. Muhammad Abdel Hakem, Seattle
Dr. Ahmed Ismat al-Bendari, President, Islamic Society of America
Walid Yusari, Chicago
Ahmed Shadid, New Jersey
Ahmed al-Hatab, Indiana
Dr. Muhammad Morjan, Boston
Ramadan Ridwan, Houston
Ahmed Fayez, Las Vegas
Dr. Amru Abbas, member, Egyptian Foundation in Michigan
Dr. Safi al-Din Hamed, Pennsylvania
Dr. Hamdy Radwan, North Carolina
Ahmed Shehata, Director, Egyptian American Organization for Democracy and Human Rights
Dr. Iman Shehata, New York
Dr. Muhammad Amru Attawiya, member, Organization of Islamic Relief in the United States
Dr. Khalid al-Sayes, member, Rebuilding of Egypt Foundation
Dr. Tariq Hussein, member, American Islamic Relations Council (CAIR)
Dr Hisham al-Gayar, member, Egyptian Foundation, Michigan
Amin Mahmoud, Maryland
 
As a most recent example, El Watan quotes from an American op-ed published on October 16 (just two days before the publication of the El Watan report itself).  Titled "Egypt: 100 days later" and written by Ahmed Shehata of the Egyptian American Organization for Democracy and Human Rights, the piece appeared in The Hill, the Capitol's most widely circulated newspaper, published specifically for Congress.
 
The op-ed is certainly a prime example of pro-Muslim Brotherhood propaganda that actually tries to "shame" U.S. policymakers into returning the Brotherhood back to power in the name of "democracy." 
 
Key excerpts follow:
While the U.S. must consider its own interests in the region, it is baffling and disheartening to think the current administration would choose to discount the suffering that continues to occur on a daily basis as well as the complete violation of democratic principles which it espouses to the rest of the world....  As this past week marked 100 days since the coup and the lives of the Egyptian people continue to be sacrificed, the United States cannot be silent any longer for the sake of their own interests and convenience....  
To that end, Egypt represents a golden opportunity for the U.S. to uphold democratic values by pushing for the reinstatement of the democratically elected government, despite their shortcomings. This would aid tremendously in showing the world that, above any one particular physical interest, stands the mantle of freedom and the rule of law.
 
Anyone familiar with the real happenings of Egypt knows that Shehata's assertions are complete opposites of the truth: the military ousted the Brotherhood in response to the will of millions of Egyptians-the people, the demos, as in democracy-who took to the streets protesting against the totalitarian Morsi government.   Moreover, it is the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters who have been committing numerous human rights atrocities-including the slaughter and persecution of Christians, the torture and murder of many Egyptians (including before the revolution), and the destruction and torching of some 85 Christian churches.
 
Shehata seems to think that, if the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters terrorize, murder, destroy, persecute, and betray their nation-which is precisely why tens of millions of average Egyptians rose up against them (though you might not know that following Al Jazeera-led Western media that distorted the popularity of the revolution)-as long as they won "elections" (which from the start many authorities insisted they didn't), then that is all that matters; and, if need be, the U.S. must war with Egypt's military and people on behalf of the ousted terrorists-all in the name of "democracy" and "human rights," as Shehata's U.S.-based Brotherhood front is laughably called.
That such a shameless piece of Muslim Brotherhood propaganda can be published in the most influential and widely read Capitol Hill publication certainly goes a long way in validating El Watan's claims that the Brotherhood has its tentacles all around the United States' points of influence.
 
raymond ibrahimRaymond Ibrahim 
is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam expert.  His books include Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

Egypt Warns Muslim Brotherhood Against Protests

Category: News
Created on Sunday, 03 November 2013 19:50
Egypt Warns Muslim Brotherhood
 
Egypt's Interior Ministry said on Saturday it will take all action within the boundaries of the law to combat violence during protests against deposed president Mohammed Morsi's trial, scheduled to begin on November 4.
 
According to the website of the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper, the ministry said in a statement published on its official Facebook page that it will stand against any assaults, abiding by "legal procedures regulating the use of firearms."
 
The statement added that the ministry is "accurately monitoring" all the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, especially its call for mass protests on Monday when the former president is due in court.
 
The Brotherhood has plans that aim to "spread chaos, obstruct state facilities and citizens' interests and hold up traffic," the ministry statement continues.
 
It specifically warned against any attempts to attack public institutions or security forces.
 
The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy had vowed to stage daily protests until Monday.
 
On Saturday, dozens rallied outside the High Court in downtown Cairo, and on Friday thousands staged demonstrations nationwide, reported Al-Ahram.
 
The alliance intends to have a presence in front of the court on Monday, and called on supporters to protest in front of Egyptian embassies and consulates worldwide.
 
Pro-Morsi groups have been staging demonstrations regularly since the army deposed the former president in July amid mass demonstrations against his rule.
 
Daily "anti-coup" demonstrations have recently been held on university campuses, some of which have escalated into violent conflict. On Wednesday, police stormed the Al-Azhar University campus in Cairo to disperse student protests after clashes erupted with staff members.
 
In August, police forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo leaving hundreds dead. Since then, many of the group's members and dozens of its leading figures have been arrested, with some put on trial on charges of inciting violence.

Egypt: Police Storm University to Confront Protesters

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 31 October 2013 10:50
Police Storm University to Confront ProtestersEgyptian police entered the Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Wednesday to confront Islamist protesters, AFP reported. It was the first time security forces have moved on a campus since a 2010 court ruling.
 
The police took the action at the prestigious Islamic university following a request from its administration, the interior ministry said.
 
Students supporting deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi have held regular and sometimes violent protests since the beginning of the school year in September.
 
According to the official MENA news agency, the protesting students had stormed the university's offices on Wednesday, ransacking them and firing birdshot.
 
Police entered "the Al-Azhar University campus following a request from the university's head Dr. Osama al-Abd to defend lives and public property," said the interior ministry, according to AFP.
 
The police had obtained permission from the state prosecutor before doing so, it added in a statement.
 
A police general told AFP it was the first time police had entered a university since a 2010 court ruling banned guards belonging to the interior ministry from operating on their grounds.
 
Pressed by police at every turn, Islamists have adopted universities as protest hubs to galvanize their flagging movement four months after the military overthrew Morsi.
 
Several weeks ago, hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood chanted “Down with the military government” outside Cairo University, after they were urged by the group to hold protests.
 
Egypt has witnessed protests and clashes that have left scores dead since Morsi’s ouster on July 3.
 
The worst violence was in August, when police forcibly dispersed two protest camps set up by Morsi supporters.
 
Since August, Egypt's authorities have rounded up dozens of senior leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, including the movement’s Supreme Guide.
 
On October 6, security forces clashed with pro-Morsi crowds in Cairo as they tried to reach the capital's Tahrir Square where supporters of the military were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War with Israel, known in Egypt as the October War.
 
On Wednesday, Essam el-Erian, one of the most senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders still at large, was arrested in Cairo.
 
El-Erian is the vice chairman of the Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. Egypt's interior ministry commented that a warrant had been issued against el-Erian by the state's general prosecutor, accusing him of "inciting violence" and "aiding criminal acts."

Senior Muslim Brotherhood Leader Arrested in Cairo

Category: News
Created on Thursday, 31 October 2013 10:30
Essam-el-Erian
 
Essam el-Erian, one of the most senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders still at large, was arrested Wednesday in Cairo.
 
El-Erian is the vice chairman of the Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. He had been hiding in a residence in New Cairo, a recently built satellite city of Cairo, according to the Egyptian state news agency MENA.
 
Egypt's interior ministry commented that a warrant had been issued against el-Erian by the state's general prosecutor, accusing h