Al Qaeda Chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s recent statements about the Muslim Brotherhood prove the connection between the two organisations, Ministry of Interior Spokesman Generaly Hany Abdel Latif said Monday.
In a recently released video by the jihadi leader, Al-Zawahiri had declared his support for the Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt and gave his blessing to any jihadist activity in the country.
Abdel Latif also qualified remarks made by Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim during a Sunday security inspection in Qaliubiya, where the minister said the Ministry of Interior has succeeded in quashing “99%” of all terrorist groups in Egypt. This statement was metaphorical, Abdel Latif said, and referred to the fact that the “financial and physical sources of terrorism are drying out.”
The interior ministry spokesman provided Daily News Egypt with the ministry’s official figures on security campaigns and arrests from 1 January through 29 March 2014. During that period security forces arrested 135 “terrorist cells”, 2,803 “rioters”, 1,600 suspected of attacking police stations, and 85 suspected of burning police cars.
Abdel Latif said the ministry is fighting to restore security, adding that the Muslim Brotherhood have lost their control on the Egyptian street. The outlawed group’s tactics, he said, involve using “diverse committees… [and] youth elements [to] plan violent clashes, killing and terrorising peaceful citizens [while also] targeting journalists and security personnel to prove to their allies abroad that they are still effective on the Egyptian street.”
Regarding the security situation in Sinai, the Ministry of Interior said “mercenaries” who had fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are now based in Sinai and “due to the intense security presence in the peninsula, these mercenary groups have moved to Libya.”
The spokesman detailed that the Information and Documentation Police has arrested 72 online inciters of violence in Egypt. “The ministry is aware that information about making improvised explosive devices is available online and is arresting assailants who share this information and incite on violent actions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Director of Al-Haqaniya Legal Centre said the Ministry of Interior has the power to designate an innocent person as a terrorist, but a “defendant [should be considered] innocent until convicted.”
He added that the figures attest to the state of random arrests, which he said were especially evident on the third anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, in which over 1,000 people were arrested.
Abdel Aziz said this is not indicative of security forces’ hold on terrorism, but rather of their hold on “any peaceful protest.”
Regarding the claim that the Ministry of Interior had eliminated 99% of terrorists in Egypt, Abdel Aziz said terrorism would only be defeated when citizens feel safe, but that “severe oppression and injustice create a state of terrorism among citizens.”