Archive for the ‘Egypt’ category

Hamas’ Catch-22

June 29, 2017

Hamas’ Catch-22, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, June 29, 2017

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

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The voices rising from Gaza are not of war and certainly not of triumph, but of distress. It has been 10 years since its people took Gaza by force, and Hamas is not only looking at a dead end, but a Catch-22. Even as Qatar, its primary benefactor, is under a diplomatic barrage from its neighbors; the cries of despair are still emanating from Gaza, where residents are paying the price for Hamas’ isolation in the Arab world.

These are no longer the days of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, when Turkey and Qatar did as they pleased across the Arab world, and when Hamas leaders freely globe-trotted from capital to capital. Now, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is caged in; forced to wait until his Egyptian guard feels like letting him out.

Cairo has its own grudge against Hamas. It wants to see action first and foremost, such as the buffer zone being built along Gaza’s border with Egypt, intended to prevent terrorists from Islamic State’s Sinai branch from finding shelter inside Gaza under Hamas’ blind eye.

Thus, bereft of outside support and facing boiling distress at home, the Strip is convulsing from one crisis to the next. With so many people struggling to keep their heads barely above water (in the dark no less), Hamas is now even willing to consider waiving a white flag and handing over the keys to Mohammed Dahlan — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ detested political rival — who could very well be the only one capable of turning things around in Gaza.

Hamas hopes that Dahlan will suffice with the symbolic and powerless position of prime minister. But Dahlan is not a child, and with backing from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — and perhaps with a wink and a nod from Israel, as well — he can pull the rug out from under Hamas.

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

Egyptian Police Say They Foiled Church Bombing

June 25, 2017

Egyptian Police Say They Foiled Church Bombing, Breitbart Jerusalem, June 25, 2017

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty

(AFP) — Egyptian police said on Saturday they foiled a church bombing by arresting a cell including the would-be attackers, two months after suicide bombers killed dozens of church goers in two attacks.

Six members of the cell including two “suicide bombers” planning the attack on an Alexandria church were arrested in the Mediterranean city, the interior ministry said in a statement.

 It said one attacker had planned to detonate an explosive vest inside the church and the other to blow himself up when police arrived to the scene.

The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the two church bombings in April and one in December that killed more than seventy people.

On Thursday, the interior ministry said police killed seven suspected extremists in southern Egypt alleged to have been linked to the church attacks.

Muslim Brotherhood Affiliate Claims Responsibility for Cairo Attack

June 19, 2017

Muslim Brotherhood Affiliate Claims Responsibility for Cairo Attack, Investigative Project on Terrorism, June 19, 2017

The Muslim Brotherhood-linked Hasm Movement claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist attack targeting Egyptian security forces in Cairo on Sunday.

Its operatives detonated an “anti-vehicle explosive device” under a road “at the Maadi Autostrada south of Cairo… which led to the destruction of the military vehicle and the killing of two officers and the wounding of three other soldiers who still fighting death,” said a Hasm Movement statement released shortly after the attack and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

Intelligence collected by Egypt’s interior ministry suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood is establishing “terrorist entities,” including the Hasm Movement and others, to carry out attacks in an attempt to conceal the Brotherhood’s responsibility.

In May, Najah Ibrahim, a former leader of the terrorist organization Gamma’a Islamiya, revealed these terrorist offshoots consist of Muslim Brotherhood youth seeking to escalate violence against the Egyptian regime. Ibrahim told al-Hayat news that some Brotherhood leaders encouraged the terrorist groups to commit violence, according to an IPT translation.

Part of the terrorist group’s justification for Sunday’s attack alluded to Egypt’s controversial and impending transfer of two small islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

“The continuation of the criminal coup [Egyptian] regime in selling the homeland, giving up its land and capabilities … obliges us to undertake more resistance activity to tear them off the chest of this helpless people,” the statement said.

Muslim Brotherhood figures continue to engage in violence incitement and encouraging others to conduct terrorist attacks.

In April, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member, ‘Izz Al-Din Dwedar, called for an “intifada” targeting Egyptian embassies around the world, in a Facebook post translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

In protest of death sentences handed to members of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Dwedar suggested for violent action on May 3.

Egyptians abroad should “protest [outside] Egyptian embassies and lay siege to them, and steadily escalate [their actions], up to and including raiding the embassies in some countries, disrupting their work and occupying them if possible, in order to raises awareness to our cause,” Dwedar wrote.

Egypt’s Battle Against Islamic Extremism

June 3, 2017

Egypt’s Battle Against Islamic Extremism, Gatestone InstituteShireen Qudosi, June 3, 2017

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a “ticking time-bomb.”

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

President Sisi’s response to the brutal slaughter of peaceful Christian worshippers is being called rare but should not be surprising, considering the aggressive measures that need to be taken to hold extremism at bay, and to eradicate the threat that local groups pose to the Egyptian people. Coming out of the Riyadh Summit, where President Trump and a host of Muslim nations, including Egypt, agreed to drive out extremism, Sisi’s reaction was necessary.

 

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When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is the most dominant and violent force.

Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam. Egypt faces political, violent, and theological militancy within its borders.

For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.

 

For a Western audience, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a complex figure, who was shunned by the Obama administration. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.

President Sisi faces violent extremist hotbeds in the Sinai Peninsula, and the still-destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood (a political arm of violent radicals). Most notably, Sisi brought a reality check to the Arab Spring when he led the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, ushering a spiritual and cultural Islamic reformation with widespread popular support from Egyptians on a grass-roots level.

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a “ticking time-bomb.”

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

Egypt also faces extremist infiltration from neighboring Libya, a nation caught in a power vacuum after the murder of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. This vacuum has been readily filled by Islamic militants, including ISIS.

Upon returning home in April from his first visit to the U.S. since 2013, Sisi faced a series of domestic terror attacks that once again put Egypt in a global spotlight. On Palm Sunday, in April, two suicide bombings in Coptic Christian churches killed more than 45 people and injured another 120. For Egypt, one of the last regional strongholds that still has a vibrant non-Muslim minority population, violent eruptions on major Christian holidays have become routine.

In England, just days after the May 22 Manchester suicide bombing, attention was once again on Egypt where 29 Coptic Christians were gunned down on a bus traveling to a monastery near the city of Minya. The attack was launched by masked terrorists who arrived in three pick-up trucks and opened fire on the passengers, many of whom were children. Egyptian intelligence believes the Minya attack was led by ISIS jihadists based in Libya. In February, the aspiring terrorist caliphate also launched a campaign against Egypt’s Christian population. The Egyptian military responded swiftly with air strikes against terrorist camps, along with a televised warning against sponsored terrorism.

President Sisi’s response to the brutal slaughter of peaceful Christian worshippers is being called rare but should not be surprising, considering the aggressive measures that need to be taken to hold extremism at bay, and to eradicate the threat that local groups pose to the Egyptian people. Coming out of the Riyadh Summit, where President Trump and a host of Muslim nations, including Egypt, agreed to drive out extremism, Sisi’s reaction was necessary.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (front row, far-right) attended the May 21 Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, along with U.S. President Donald Trump (front-center). The problems of Islamic extremism and terrorism were much-discussed at the summit. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

In a war that is equally ideological and kinetic, Muslim nations and others trying to survive the plague of Islamic terrorism will need to be as ruthless as their extremist counterparts. That is something that the warring political factions in the U.S. quickly need to understand. When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is combating the most dominant and violent force. If that force wins, human rights are completely off the table. Beyond Egypt, President Trump has received considerable backlash in the U.S. for siding with what are seen as repressive regimes, whether it was hosting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the White House or engaging with dictators and monarchs during the Riyadh Summit.

In order to bring security to the region, alliances need to look at the real instigators and agents of chaos. There is a metastasizing threat that requires a new coalition of the willing. For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.

Shireen Qudosi is the Director of Muslim Matters, with America Matters.

EXCLUSIVE: Former Egyptian Terrorism Official Exposes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Terror Networks (Part 1)

May 15, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Former Egyptian Terrorism Official Exposes the Muslim Brotherhood’s Terror Networks (Part 1), PJ MediaPatrick Poole, May 15, 2017

(Please see also, Why the MB is Still Not Designated as Terrorists in the US. — DM)

upporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans and raise their hands with a four-fingered anti-government gesture that commemorates the deadly crushing by police of a 2013 Islamist protest camp, in the Faysal district of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only group who have called on its supporters to take to the streets this Monday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Poster reads, “Military rule is a shame and a betrayal.” (AP Photo/Hesham Elkhoshny)

On my recent trip to Egypt, I met with Col. Khaled Okasha (ret), one of Egypt’s top former counter-terrorism officials, to discuss the developing security situation and to address a question that has received a lot of international media attention:

Is the Muslim Brotherhood directly engaged in terrorism?

Okasha, the Director of the National Center for Security Studies, has literally written the books on the development of militant networks in Egypt. He graciously met with me for five hours upon my arrival in Cairo to discuss these issues.

He later sat down for a three-hour, on-the-record interview on the Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks, the transcript of which is presented below.

The night previous to our second meeting, one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist groups, Hassm, killed three policemen at a checkpoint in Nasr City:

We met in between two of his international media interviews on the Nasr City incident, and we had limited time as he had a scheduled BBC appearance later that day.

In the first part of this three-part interview, Col. Okasha talks about:

  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s long-time double-game with terrorism
  • The crisis caused by Egypt’s rejection of Muslim Brotherhood rule and the massive June 30, 2013 Tamarod protests
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to provoke a sectarian war by launching attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • And the development of Muslim Brotherhood’s terror networks under Guidance Bureau leader Mohamed Kamal and the two-front war targeting Egypt’s military and police forces

I’ve previously reported here at PJ Media on the Muslim Brotherhood attacks on churches in Upper Egypt, and the killing of Mohamed Kamal last October:

Revisiting the Muslim Brotherhood’s August 2013 ‘Reign of Terror’ Targeting Egypt’s Christians http://bit.ly/2b962sy 

In Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Col. Okasha, we will discuss Mohamed Kamal’s terror networks in depth, and also the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in setting up Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which we know today as the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate.

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Thank you Mr. Okasha for meeting with us again today. Could you briefly describe your professional career?

I started beginning in 1987 as special forces in the counter-terrorism unit active around Cairo until the early 1990s in the suburbs of Cairo, including Imbabah, Ain Shams, and Haram where the Gamaa Islamiya were very active back then.

You mentioned earlier about Gamaa Islamiya in the 1990s. Could you talk about your role when you were stationed in Upper Egypt, and what your later role was in Sinai?

After I served in Cairo there, a movement from the Gamaa Islamiya in Upper Egypt, specifically in Assuit and Minya, they were working on two perspectives. One of them was to wage a political war on the regime of Egypt, and the other was to recruit more jihadis to join the Afghanistan war. And that ended with the Luxor massacre in 1997, where I was stationed.

And Sinai?

I served in Sinai from 2008 until 2012, and I quit about six months after Morsi took office. Since then I’ve dedicated my time to research and to publish a lot of material on the jihadis and the militant Islamists.

In the U.S. we hear repeatedly from the media that the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s. Is that really the case?

Back at the time, the Brotherhood had a strategy to play a double-game so that they could earn a place in the Arabic community all over the region before they started their armed militias.

That’s why at the beginning the Brotherhood began approaching the syndicates and political parties creating coalitions to push new faces into the political community and to play the card that they are only trying to be a political partner in ruling the country.

But in terms of their overall strategy, violence still remained a component to their activity?

Violence back then was based on the strategy of using other groups — other terrorist groups — to conduct their operations on their behalf.

Especially at this time was the peak of the Arab-Afghan jihadi and mujahideen network. That’s why they could use others to conduct their business.

At the same point, they were introducing themselves to the political and intelligence communities in the Arab world that they are the moderate face of Islamists, and they offered to work with them because they’re the peaceful face. They used the same tactic with the West, especially in the U.S., UK, and Germany, of course.

When we spoke the other day, you mentioned that after the June 30 protests and Morsi’s removal on July 3, and then the clearing of the Rabaa and Nahda protest sites, those events caused a crisis within the Brotherhood. Could you explain that?

At the beginning of the Arab Spring the Brotherhood were working to gain their dominance in the countries that were infected by the Arab Spring. They succeeded in some countries, they failed in others, and they’re suffering in some countries. In Egypt and Tunisia they politically succeeded in securing the Parliament and then the presidential elections.

Egypt is very special when it comes to the Brotherhood, because the Supreme Guide comes from Egypt, and according to their own constitution the Supreme Guide is the highest spiritual guidance for the Brotherhood all over the world. So they worked hard to maintain their power grabs on the establishments in Egypt.

When they were attacked by the people themselves and felt threatened, they were very afraid to lose all that they had been working on over the last two years to secure their power grab. So it was a real disaster for them because Egypt is the place where they started and the place where they had their headquarters.

And as we discussed the other day, the Brotherhood established two different fronts in response to Morsi’s removal that was a divided effort between Upper Egypt and Sinai. Could you start off discussing the role of Mohamed Kamal, who was a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, and his role in establishing the terror networks and cells operating in Upper Egypt?

As a matter of fact Mohamed Kamal was one of the youngest members of the Guidance Bureau, and he originally came from Assuit. He was responsible for memberships, and running the Brotherhood all over the governates of Egypt. He had very wide connections with the Brotherhood in Assuit, and during the time that the Brotherhood was in power politically he was very careful not to establish any terror cells so that he wouldn’t attract the attention of the security apparatus in Egypt.

So at that time, the Brotherhood worked hard to present themselves to the Egyptian establishment that they are working politically to advance their position with the Gamaa Islamiya and the remnants of Islamic Jihad. They allowed them to establish their own political parties, and these political parties were used as a cover for the militants. At that time the Brotherhood would use the Gamaa and Jihad to conduct their militant operations and keep their hands clean of any terror attacks that were taking place at the time because they were in power politically.

How did Mohamed Kamal structure his terror cells, and what were some of the groups that were under his control?

The terror cells that are blatantly Brotherhood were formed after June 30 by Mohamed Kamal. It was a mix between the Gamaa Islamiya youth that were ready and trained to deal with a crisis like what happened on June 30 for the Islamists, and the other group of people he used were the Muslim Brotherhood youth. Some of those were at Rabaa and Nahda, while others were elsewhere, but they were shocked that they were ejected. They were not equipped, or they couldn’t form any sort of what reaction to what happened, so he made his cells between those components, the Gamaa Islamiya and the Brotherhood youth.

He used them throughout 2013 and 2014, and the remnants of them are still active on the streets. Some of the groups were called Ajnad Misr, Helwan militias, Civil Resistance, another group called the Molotov Movement, another called Walaa, and then lately Hassm and Liwa al-Thawra.

Another very important component was the Hazemoon group, led by Hazem Salah Abu-Ismails, who was actually one of those political allies of the Brotherhood. He had a trained and armed group within his political group. The alliance between him and the Brotherhood started from 2011, and he was entrusted with sending the mujahedeen youth to Syria. So after June 30 Kamal used the Hazemoon group with the other two components to train and equip the Brotherhood youth who were not very familiar with the militant activity. That’s why in a matter of weeks you had active and operating terror cells all over Egypt. They were very focused on Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

Two of the other groups we’ve heard a lot about during this period of time was Revolutionary Punishment and Popular Resistance. Were they also part of Mohamed Kamal’s network?

Yes, Popular Resistance is the Civil Resistance I mentioned earlier. Revolutionary Punishment was of course part of the groups I just listed, I just forgot to mention it, but it’s the same MO, it’s the same formation, it’s the same activity, and of course they both belong to the cells that Mohamed Kamal established.

What kinds of activities were these cells involved in?

They had two main targets when they started: security forces and security personnel, and also the armed forces that were stationed to protect public buildings. They conducted more than 25 to 30 successful operations that resulted in casualties, and they more than 50 operations that had no casualties. The other main target was any public service establishment, like power stations, communications towers, railways, and subways. The point was to keep the pressure on, and to let the people know that they will always be under terror attacks, and these operations would go on at least weekly to keep the people in a constant panic mode.

One of the things we saw after August 14, when Rabaa and Nahda were cleared, were the attacks on the churches, particularly in Upper Egypt. What exactly was the strategy for the Brotherhood in the attacks on the churches?

After June 30 the larger strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood was composed of three main points.  Number one was Sinai, and that entails all the terror cells in Sinai, and their main target was to control the cities like Al-Arish and Rafah and establish an Islamic emirate on the borders with Gaza. The second strategy was creating many terrorist cells all over Egypt. That plan failed so they decided to focus on the central cities like Giza and Cairo as I said before. And number three they targeted the Christians, their buildings and business in order to start a sectarian war in Upper Egypt to put the new regime after June 30 in the midst of a sectarian war in Egypt.

But it doesn’t appear that strategy worked?

They were betting that Christians would fight back with arms, and that is what they were hoping would take place to destabilize the new government. But the Pope went on television and told the Christians and June 30 supporters to not defend the churches the Brotherhood was attacking, saying that the churches could be rebuilt but not human lives.

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Parts 2 and 3 of our exclusive interview with Col. Okasha will appear here at PJ Media later this week.

MB Backers Hide Terror Support During Capitol Hill Visits

May 15, 2017

MB Backers Hide Terror Support During Capitol Hill Visits, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, May 15, 2017

Hani Elkadi outside the Capitol. In November, he called for jihad in Egypt.

When two leaders of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked advocacy group lobbied Congress on May 3, they failed to disclose their open support for the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) and the Revolutionary Punishment Movement (RPM), terrorist groups that have carried out attacks in Egypt.

Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ) President Hani Elkadi and spokesman Mahmoud El Sharkawy asked that aid to Egypt’s military rulers be cut off due to the regime’s human rights record, according to a video of one of the meetings that Elkadi posted on his Facebook page. A staffer for an unidentified member of Congress expressed sympathy with the EAFJ members and told them that his member thought President Trump should not have hosted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the White House.

The EAFJ officials’ support for violently overthrowing al-Sisi was never mentioned in the video.

Elkadi, El Sharkawy and other EAFJ members posed for photos outside the offices of Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Robert Brady, D-Pa.; Bobby Rush, D-Ill.; Brad Sherman, D-Calif.; Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Fred Upton, R-Mich.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Kathleen M. Rice, Bonnie Watson-Coleman, D-N.J.; and the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Representatives for McCaul, Upton and Fortenberry told the IPT no one from their offices met the EAFJ delegation. The Democratic congressional offices did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Elkady and El Sharkawy’s support for the Egyptian terrorists is made clear by their social media posts.

In February 2015, they posted PRM’s bloody hand logo with a communiqué from the terrorist group to their respective Facebook pages. The communiqué claimed responsibility for attacks on two police cars, but it did not provide additional details. It included the motto: “God, Martyrs, Revolution” in Arabic. The same bloody hand logo appears on a PRM-linked Facebook page called @Popular.Resistance.EGY that the PRM uses to claim responsibility for its attacks.

The PRM reportedly was founded by three Muslim Brotherhood officials who wanted to react violently to the Brotherhood’s ouster from power by the Egyptian military in 2013. Its first communiqué came on the first anniversary of the military’s deadly assault on Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda squares.

“We shall pay willingly with our blood until we crush the lackeys of Israel,” the communiqué said. “Retribution for the martyrs is our right, and we shall eventually attain it. So long as people seek their rights, their rights will not be lost. Allah …. Martyrdom ….. Revolution.”

In June 2015, El Sharkawy praised the RPM – a terror group aligned with the PRM –after it killed a man because he helped police round up 40 leaders of pro-Brotherhood protests in Helwan.

“The Revolutionary Punishment Movement executes one of the traitor guides in Helwan!!” El Sharkawy wrote on Facebook.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen deny any connection with these terror movements, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) notes, but plenty of evidence points to a connection. That includes Brotherhood members issuing statements supporting their attacks.

Among the examples, is former Muslim Brotherhood parliament member Muhammad Sagheer’s 2015 statement: “To the decisive Revolutionary [Punishment] movements: [Coptic businessman Naguib] Sawiris declared that it was he who was financially supporting the Tamarrud movement [which worked to topple the Mursi regime]. I hereby tell you that his property and institutions are a legitimate revolutionary target. Rebellion [Tamarrud] will encounter retribution.”

Abu Emara, a former top Muslim Brotherhood leader, told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper that the RPM’s fighters belonged to the Brotherhood.

PRM and ISIS each claimed responsibility for an attack against police officers near Cairo on May 7, 2016. The attack was intended to mark 1,000 days since the August 2013 Rabaa massacre, PRM said. This simultaneous claim of responsibility was not an isolated incident, said researcher Patrick Poole, who just returned from Egypt where he interviewed the former head of security for the Sinai.

Poole told the Investigative Project on Terrorism that a similar incident happened in January 2016 after Egypt’s Interior Ministry raided a bomb factory on a farm outside Cairo. Evidence recovered in the raid led police to an apartment in the city of Giza where their suspects blew themselves up killing the officers.

“They were pursuing Muslim Brotherhood people and lo and behold Revolutionary Punishment put out a claim of responsibility on social media, and later so did the Islamic State,” Poole said. “In every one of those cases, whether it’s Popular Resistance, Revolutionary Punishment, both the Interior Ministry and NGO experts like [former Sinai security chief] Khaled Okasha, those groups are all part or were part of Mohamed Kamal’s network.

Kamal was the youngest member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau – its top organ – who was killed in a shootout with Egyptian police last October; authorities identified him as the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “armed wing.” He established a network of terror cells in Cairo and in Upper Egypt, mostly made up of Muslim Brotherhood youth members, Poole said.

When Kamal died, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi prayed for him as a martyr. Elkadi, one of the EAFJ officials trying to lobby Congress, shared a post showing that on his Facebook page.

Another post includes an official Muslim Brotherhood communiqué condemning Kamal’s “assassination” by the “coup criminals” with the hashtag #Kamal_martyrs.

Elkadi deleted that, but not before the IPT saved it as a screenshot.

A month later, Elkadi called for jihad.

“A question to all young people against the bloody military coup. If the summons of Jihad calls you to live for Jihad, live for success. Are you ready for the call? … Will we find one who brings his money or half for the expenses of Jihad? Will we see one who leaves everything and lines up in the ranks of the Mujahidin?” Elkadi wrote.

He publicly proclaimed his allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood in a March 2015 Facebook post.

He attended meetings of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) – a group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians – over the May 5 weekend in Istanbul. The website of the banned Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) notes that Elkadi reported on EAFJ’s activities in America including its recent meetings on Capitol Hill.

Al Bawaba identified El Sharkawy as a member of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2015. It also alleged that El Sharkawy was responsible for funding and coordinating operations with Brotherhood members living in Turkey and Qatar.

Other EAFJ member who participated in “Egypt Day at Capitol Hill” publicly endorsed violence or intimidation.

Aber Mostafa, for example, posted the personal information of a pro-Sisi owner of an Egyptian soccer team with the word “Attaaack!” on the same day that Elkadi and El Sharkawy reposted the PRM communiqué.

Ayat Al-Orabi, a member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council who participated in the lobbying trip, has spouted venom against Egypt’s Christians. In September, she accused Christians of “waging war on Islam,” a leading narrative terrorists use to gain recruits.

“Egypt is Islamic even if occupied by the coup gang and even if assailed by the apostate criminal lackey of the Zionist entity,” Orabi said. “They must realize that the crescent is above the cross, and Islam is above all.”

It’s clear that the EAFJ delegation visited Capitol Hill. It is not known, however, how many offices agreed to meet with them. Given the open support for jihad and terrorist groups by key delegation members, it’s a wonder they got anywhere near the halls of Congress.

Muslim Brotherhood in Desperate Campaign in US

May 4, 2017

Muslim Brotherhood in Desperate Campaign in US, Clarion ProjectRan Meir, May 4, 2017

U.S. Capitol building (Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Lectures, discussions and events are being held in prominent American universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, about the “constructive contribution” the Brotherhood has made to Egypt since the Arab Spring began.

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CLICK HERE to Tell Your Members of Congress to Designate the Brotherhood as a Terror Organization

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is mounting a desperate campaign in the U.S. to avoid being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, according to The Seventh Day, one of Egypt’s largest news outlets.

The political winds have changed in Washington and the Brotherhood is running scared. U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear his support of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announcing he stands with the Egyptian president in his fight against terror and extremist groups that are threatening one of American’s key allies in the Middle East.

After tens of millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest the abuse and power grabs of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Brotherhood’s political party) in the summer of 2013, El-Sisi and the military took control of Egypt. He was elected president in 2014.

El-Sisi’s recently successful meeting with Trump in Washington set a Brotherhood plan in motion to gain support of members of Congress and academia to block a move to designate the organization as terrorists.

See Clarion Project’s Fact Sheet about the Muslim Brotherhood and its links to terrorism.

Lectures, discussions and events are being held in prominent American universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, about the “constructive contribution” the Brotherhood has made to Egypt since the Arab Spring began.

For example, speaking under the title “The Nobility in Justice,” Mahmoud a-Sharkawi, a Brotherhood official in Washington, lectured about the “positive” role the Brotherhood has played in Egypt since January 25, 2011 (the date marking the beginning of the Arab Spring in Egypt) in a conference at St. John’s University in New York.

The group is also reaching out to members of Congress, trying to re-brand the way it is perceived in Washington after al-Sisi’s successful visit.

Testifying in Congress, Tarek a-Zimer, head of the Building and Development Party, the political party of the Egyptian Brotherhood, urged Americans to change their views about the organization. Other officials of the Brotherhood who attended the hearing used their presence to incite against el-Sisi and the current Egyptian government.

Writing in a blog, A-Zimer asked, “Have the Americans internalized the lesson and fully understood the danger of the current situation to their interests?”

Sources close to the Brotherhood say the purpose of the campaign being waged on American university campuses is to put pressure on Trump in light of the negative opinions about the Brotherhood that are now prevalent in Washington due to the change in administrations.

What they fear most is a decision by the administration to designate the Brotherhood as a terror organization.

Hisham a-Naggar, an Islamic scholar, agreed. He said the purpose of the Brotherhood campaign is to confront the new negative shift in American opinions toward the Brotherhood. These opinions include support for el-Sisi and allying with him against terror – positions that include a crackdown on Brotherhood activities.

Formerly, having the support of the West (and the American president) was the Brotherhood’s “ace in the hole” – the most important card the group could play in its multi-faceted moves to take over Arab countries and their current regimes. Now that support has been taken away, and the group is reeling.

Tarek al-Bashabishi, a former Brotherhhood official who now works against the organization, commented that ever since the Brotherhood lost power in June 2013, it’s been been inciting various Arab countries and international institutions against Egypt to weaken el-Sisi so the Brotherhood can return to power.

Al-Bashabishi added that after Trump was elected, a huge political shift occurred. The U.S. administration is now against the Brotherhood and in support of el-Sisi’s fight against them. Now, he says, the Brotherhood’s only option is to try to bribe Trump’s rivals in Congress so they can be used as mouthpieces for the Brotherhood.

He said the Brotherhood is engaged in a fight for its life, playing all its cards – including using financial support from Turkey and Qatar and the Brotherhood lobby in America – to avoid being designated as a terror organization.

Al-Bashabishi also noted the same phenomenon in the UK, where he said the Brotherhood is trying to bribe members of the House of Commons to support the anti-Egypt opinions of the Brotherhood.

Hamas Wants Quiet As It Prepares For Next Assault on Israel

April 27, 2017

Hamas Wants Quiet As It Prepares For Next Assault on Israel, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, April 27, 2017

In the long run, Sinwar and his regime plan to continue to prepare for the ‘grand’ destiny they have chosen for Gaza. So long as Hamas rules Gaza, it will be the base of unending jihad against Israel, buffered by tactical ceasefires, until conditions are ripe for a new assault.

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Strategically, Hamas remains as committed as ever to its objective of destroying Israel and toppling the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in the process. Tactically, however, Hamas exhibits pragmatism and won’t rush into wars with Israel when conditions are ill suited.

Hamas looks at the long run, and remains convinced that it can eradicate Israel, even if it takes decades or centuries. Yet it would prefer to bide its time, and build up its force until the next clash while working to decrease its acute regional isolation. For this to happen, Hamas needs to avoid plunging Gaza into a new war any time soon. Yet it remains far from clear that it will be able to do this.

Should a war erupt in the near future, it likely will be triggered by unplanned dynamics of escalation.

Gaza’s woeful living standards and infrastructure are among those factors. Crises such as the ongoing electricity supply problem plaguing the Strip could facilitate an early conflict, as Hamas may try to distract the population’s frustrations from its failings, and divert them to Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is threatening to make matters worse by cutting off cash for Gaza’s power plant. It’s part of the ongoing feud between the Fatah-run PA in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza. Gazans now receive electricity only four to six hours a day due to this feud. In January, Gazans took the unprecedented step of protesting power cuts, making Hamas extremely nervous.

In addition to tensions over the electricity crisis, a Hamas-run terror cell could spark conflict if it carries out a mass casualty attack that spawns Israeli retaliation.

The sheer scope of such plots that Israel thwarts every year is enormous.

Last year, 184 shooting attacks, 16 suicide bombings, and 16 kidnapping plots were foiled, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman testified last month before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Hamas had “significantly increased” efforts to pull off attacks in the West Bank and in Israel, he said, adding that Israeli security forces arrested more than 1,000 Hamas members in the West Bank last year and broke up 114 cells.

These are risks Hamas is prepared to take, since the day that it ceases all attempts to carry out jihadist terrorism against Israel is the day that it stops being Hamas.

Yet Hamas is also a government now, and it must consider the Gazans it rules. Hamas is keenly aware of Palestinian sentiment. Its leaders grew up in Gaza’s refugee camps and always have their finger on the pulse of Gazan society.

Hamas leaders seem to understand that the public opposes a new damaging war with Israel. They recognize that the Palestinian public cannot stomach a war with Israel every two years. The reconstruction program in Gaza following the 2014 conflict is far from complete. There are still Gazans whose homes haven’t been repaired from the damage inflicted in 2014.

The general population, despite being exposed to Hamas’s daily propaganda diet of jihadist rhetoric, would likely be reluctant to be again be used as human shields by the military wing, barely three years since the end of the last clash.

The price of Hamas’s policy of embedding its rocket launchers and fighters in Gaza’s civilian areas also is not alluring to many Gazans.

On the flip side, one of Hamas’s worst fears is of being perceived as weak. After one of its senior operatives was mysteriously killed recently, it executed three people it accused of collaborating with Israel.

Hamas also responded to Mazen Fuqaha’s murder by sending threatening messages to Israel promising vengeance. Hamas videos suggest it will target senior Israeli security officials for assassination.

Fuqaha was a key figure in the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, and reportedly in charge of setting up multiple terrorist cells in the West Bank. His bullet-ridden body was found last month outside of his Gazan apartment building.

The Israeli defense establishment takes these Hamas threats seriously. Despite the noise, however, Hamas has not rushed to respond just yet – underlining the fact that Hamas is aware of the restraints factors that it is under.

Since the end of the 2014 war with Israel, the Islamist regime has shied away from escalating the security situation with Israel.

Hamas’s leadership sees unfavorable regional conditions. They lack any powerful regional backer following the 2013 downfall of Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president in neighboring Egypt, in whom Hamas staked so many of its hopes.

In the past, Hamas enjoyed many partnerships, enjoying arms support and funding from the Shi’ite axis (Iran and Hizballah) – and forming relationships with Sunni powers.

But the Middle Eastern regional upheaval, which pits Sunnis against Shiites, and Islamists against non-Islamists, forced Hamas to make choices. It could no longer be on the same side of both Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, who are locked in a transnational proxy war. In the same vein, Hamas cannot be on the same side as both the Assad regime and the Sunni rebels fighting to remove him.

Worst of all from Hamas’s perspective, Morsi’s departure means it cannot rely on its primordial impulse to attach itself to a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood-led backer.

Five years ago, there were initial signs of a regional wave of Muslim Brotherhood successes. The Brothers rose to power in Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, and had Qatari backing. Morsi’s 2013 fall changed Hamas’s fortunes for the worse. The rise of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, a leader who identifies Hamas as a Gazan branch of his domestic arch-enemy, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, guaranteed Hamas’s isolation.

Relations with Cairo remain rocky despite recent Hamas attempts to improve ties. Egypt may open its Rafah border crossing a few days a week, but this does not change its core view of Hamas as a true enemy, to be held at bay, weakened, and deterred.

Hamas has also fallen out with Saudi Arabia. And Hamas and Iran do not get along very well either, despite Iran continuing to be the chief sponsor of the military wing, paying it $50-$60 million a year, according to various estimates.

This leaves Hamas with just two stalwart friends: Qatar and Turkey, neither of which can back them substantially. Turkey is not an Arab state, meaning that its role in the Arab world is limited, and its desire to lead the Arab world will always be met with suspicion. A failure by Turkey to infiltrate the region means that it can only do so much to assist Gaza. Qatar, though wealthy, is politically weak, and geographically distant.

New Hamas leader Yihyeh Sinwar, despite his fundamentalist inclinations, must consider these constraints and see that his Islamist-run enclave has little real backing.

To compound its problems, Hamas also has serious financial issues. It has three main sources of income: Donations from states, donations from private individuals, and Hamas’s network of investments.

Hamas gets far less money than it used to from its donors, according to Israeli assessments. Only Qatar and Turkey donate on a regular basis, while Iran continues to finance the military wing, but not the entire movement.

Hamas is a large organization, with operations in the West Bank, Qatar, and Turkey in addition to Gaza. In the Strip, it needs to pay salaries, and prepare for its next clash with Israel. Hamas also seeks to export terrorism to the West Bank and build up political support among West Bank Palestinians. All of this costs money. It is has offices and headquarters in multiple states overseas that require annual budgets.

Private Gulf State donors are drying up. Wealthy Saudis are more interested in supporting Syrian rebels. Hamas’s cause has moved to the back of the line.

Its investments, meant to be saved for a rainy day, now must be tapped.

So what can Hamas do? First and foremost, it continues its domestic military build-up, mass producing rockets, mortar shells, variants of shoulder-fired missiles, drones, and digging tunnels – all at the expense of the welfare of the 2 million Palestinians it rules.

That’s because Hamas drew many operational lessons from its last conflict with Israel, and is keen on rebuilding its terrorist-guerrilla army without interruptions.

One lesson was to focus on a perceived Israeli vulnerability through short-range strikes. To that end, it is building new rockets that carry 200 kilogram warheads – significantly larger than past rockets made in Gaza.

These projectiles are not accurate, but would cause enormous damage if they slammed into a southern Israeli town or village.

Hamas weapons factories produce simple RPGs as well.

Second, Hamas is trying to becoming more ‘acceptable’ to the region and to the world. It is about to unveil a new charter which will be an attempt to obfuscate its jihadist ideological leanings and ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and present itself as being merely a national “resistance” organization.

In the long run, Sinwar and his regime plan to continue to prepare for the ‘grand’ destiny they have chosen for Gaza. So long as Hamas rules Gaza, it will be the base of unending jihad against Israel, buffered by tactical ceasefires, until conditions are ripe for a new assault.

Yaakov Lappin is a military and strategic affairs correspondent. He also conducts research and analysis for defense think tanks, and is the Israel correspondent for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. His book, The Virtual Caliphate, explores the online jihadist presence.

The Pope’s Pilgrimage to Al-Azhar

April 27, 2017

The Pope’s Pilgrimage to Al-Azhar, Gatestone InstituteLawrence A. Franklin, April 27, 2017

“They cannot take the texts of the seventh century literally as they are in the Quran. He [the Pope] does not dare to say something like that because he doesn’t know the Quran well enough, and so on. So I understand his position, but it would be better to have a clearer and more frank discussion — with openness, but also with some realism.”

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During a meeting between the former Papal Nuncio to Cairo, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, and Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam warned Gobel that “speaking about Islam in a negative manner was a ‘red line’ that must not be crossed.” If there are any condemnations of violence against the Coptic Christians, they are likely to be articulated only by the Grand Imam and the Egyptian President.

If the Pope’s humble bearing is excessive, however, it might be interpreted even by peaceable Muslims as a submission. If Francis is asked by the Grand Imam to pray at al-Azhar’s mosque, that is a piety that el-Tayeb would not likely reciprocate in a Coptic Church in Egypt.

Facilitating the establishment of an Islamic-Christian relationship that excludes Judaism can only serve the Islamist goal of isolating Jews and Israel. Although relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar will improve in the near future, the honeymoon will not. The Grand Imam will doubtless protect his own theological power base and keep his distance from both the Vatican and the Egyptian regime.

The twin Palm Sunday bombings at Coptic Christian Churches by Islamic terrorists in Egypt, which killed 44 worshipers, draws attention to what is probably the principal reason for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Cairo on April 28-29. The Pontiff will likely seek the assistance of Egypt’s Muslim hierarchy to help protect Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the indigenous inhabitants of the country who now number about 9 million and constitute at least 10% of the population.

During his stay, Francis will meet with the Grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb. Al-Azhar’s theological complex, which houses Islam’s oldest university, is considered the most influential center of Sunni Islam.

The Pope possibly hopes that the meeting with el-Tayeb will fully repair relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar. These were restored as a result of a letter sent by Pope Francis to the Grand Imam last year. The Papal letter was followed up by a visit to the Holy See by el-Tayeb in May 2016. Relations between the Holy See and al-Azhar had been severed in 2011 by el-Tayeb after he took offense at comments made by the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, on the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries.

Grand Imam el-Tayeb now appears more disposed towards normalizing relations with the Vatican, especially since his amicable visit to the Holy See in May 2016. Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam is likely to be more agreeable toward Francis than he was toward Benedict. This show of flexibility might possibly also be an effort by el-Tayeb to get in line with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s own call for reform within Islam. However, Al-Azhar, determined to maintain its authority over theological matters, has initiated no substantive, doctrinal reforms in response to President Sisi’s declaration. In fact, Al-Azhar has pushed back against attempts by some Muslim reformists who have suggested a more liberal policy concerning women’s rights, including the ability to divorce.

El-Tayeb, even if he accepted responsibility for protecting the Copts, may prove unable to prevent Islamic terrorist groups from targeting Egypt’s minority Christian population. The alleged cooperation between the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood makes it especially difficult for Cairo to prevent terrorist acts. Islamic terrorist cells in Alexandria and the Sinai Peninsula, where many of the attacks on Copts have occurred, act independently of Egypt’s political and religious leaders. The targeting of Christians by these groups may also be part of a larger objective to destabilize the regime of al-Sisi, who has promised security to Egyptians, particularly Coptic Christians. Radical Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS view the Copts as their enemies; many members of this Christian sect support the Sisi government.

It was, in any event, al-Sisi who invited Pope Francis to visit Egypt during the Egyptian president’s visit to the Vatican in November 2014. Anti-regime elements might well attempt to stage a spectacular terrorist incident during the Pontiff’s visit, particularly targeting Francis himself.

The Pope’s upcoming visit is being organized by French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauron, who chairs the Pontifical Council of Inter-Religious Dialogue. Cardinal Tauron is, no doubt, cognizant of the “red line” laid down by the Grand Imam if the Vatican wishes to have amicable relations with the Muslim leadership. During a meeting between the former Papal Nuncio to Cairo, Archbishop Jean-Paul Gobel, and el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam warned him that “speaking about Islam in a negative manner was a ‘red line’ that must not be crossed.” However, given the Pope’s past reluctance to condemn radical Islamic concepts, it is unlikely that, during his visit to Egypt, he will depart from this cautious public posture. Comments, if any, by Pope Francis on Muslim violence against Christians will, no doubt, be diplomatic and muted. If there are any condemnations of violence against the Coptic Christians, they are likely to be articulated only by the Grand Imam and the Egyptian President.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis will, it appears, publicly demonstrate his solidarity with fellow Christians by championing the Coptic Pope Tawadros II during memorial services for the recently martyred Copts. Francis, who is known to be fond of Tawadros, might express his deep personal concern for the welfare of the Coptic Pope — who was celebrating Mass inside St. Mark’s Cathedral when the bomber detonated his explosives just outside.

Francis is apparently most anxious to bring Copts and Catholics closer together, in the hope that the Egyptian Church will ultimately formally reunite with the Holy See. The Coptic Church first split from Rome in 451 A.D. However, the Vatican maintains deep respect for the Egyptian Church, which was established by one of the four authors of the Gospels, St. Mark, in Alexandria as early as 42 A.D.[1]

Catholic Pope Francis greets Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II at the Vatican, on May 10, 2013. (Image source: News.va Official Vatican Network)

If the Pope’s humble bearing is excessive, however, it might be interpreted even by peaceable Muslims as submission. If Francis is asked by the Grand Imam to pray at al-Azhar’s mosque, that is a piety that el-Tayeb would not likely reciprocate in a Coptic Church in Egypt.

The public stance of the Vatican concerning Islam has been routinely cautious. The most recent example of the Pontiff’s less-than-direct criticism of Islamist violence is his April 22 statement at a prayer service paying tribute to 21st Century Christian Martyrs in Rome:

Francis said the legacy of modern-day martyrs “teaches us that with the strength of love, meekness, one can combat arrogance, violence, war, and with patience, achieve peace.”

A professor of Islamic Studies at the Pontifical Institute in Rome, Father Samir Khalil Samir, also an Egyptian, characterizes the Pope’s diplomatic approach to Muslims, “who are the second-most important group in the world, to have a dialogue and understanding.” Khalil adds:

“I think it’s important to say things with charity, with friendship, but to say things as they are: that it cannot continue like this; we have to rethink Islam. This is my vision. They cannot take the texts of the seventh century literally as they are in the Quran. He [the Pope] does not dare to say something like that because he doesn’t know the Quran well enough, and so on. So I understand his position, but it would be better to have a clearer and more frank discussion — with openness, but also with some realism.”

This clearly modulated posture was apparent during a session of the Geneva Center of Human Rights Advancement and Dialogue. The theme of the Geneva sessions was “Islam and Christianity: The Great Convergence.” The March 15 Conference, attended by Muslim and Christian delegates, studiously avoided key issues of doctrinal divergence, and stressed instead alleged areas of common interest. The key sponsors of the conference were Algeria, Pakistan, and Lebanon, all of which are Muslim majority countries. The only non-Muslim state sponsor of the Conference was Malta. One of the oft-repeated themes of the sessions in Geneva was the ‘feel-good’ concept of the ‘common Abrahamic root’ of Islam, Christianity and Judaism — although no representatives of the Jewish faith were invited to the conference. Statements by representatives of Christian churches seemed overly optimistic about the prospects of developing positive relationships with Islamic societies.

The failure to invite Jewish or Israeli representation by conference organizers was presumably not an oversight. This omission would be consistent with the UN Arab bloc’s objective of isolating Israel in an apparent effort to destroy and replace it. That campaign includes efforts by Arab states to marshal support at the United Nations for suffocating Israel through diplomatic subversion as well as through economic strangulation. Facilitating the establishment of an Islamic-Christian relationship that excludes Judaism can only serve the Islamist goal of isolating Jews and Israel.

After the visit of Pope Francis to Egypt, mass murders of Egyptian Copts are likely to continue. Although relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar will improve in the near future, the honeymoon will not. The Grand Imam will doubtless protect his own theological power base and keep his distance from both the Vatican and the Egyptian regime.

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.


[1] Tradition has it that Mark founded the Church in Alexandria as early as 42 A.D. but some Coptic documents assert that Mark came to Alexandria for the first time in 61 A.D. after several missionary trips with St. Paul and St. Barnabas.

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ

April 18, 2017

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ, DEBKAfile, April 18, 2017

 

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.

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The US Mediterranean fleet is moving into position ready for a decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for a crushing assault on the Islamic State’s mountain strongholds in central Sinai, DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism sources report.

This would be the second American strike in a month against a Middle East target, after 59 cruise missiles destroyed one-fifth of the Syrian air force at the Shayrat air base on April 7 in response for Assad’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

The prospective American missile attack in Sinai would raise the war on ISIS in the Middle East to a new plane. It would have been discussed during the Egyptian President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 3. He explained to his host, President Donald Trump, the immense difficulty of overcoming the Islamic State’s affiliate when its headquarters were dug into an interconnected web of tunnels and caves in the central Jabal (Mount) Halal of the peninsula. Nicknamed the “Tora Bora of Sinai,” approach roads to this mountain fastness are few and far between, in common with the Afghan cave network near the Pakistan border destroyed on April 13 by the biggest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43/B, in the American arsenal.

The last Egyptian assault on ISIS’ towering mountain stronghold took place on April 2, shortly before El-Sisi travelled to Washington. The Egyptian military announced that 31 terrorists had been killed and a number of caves holding arms and ammunition destroyed.

But the damage was not devastating enough to disrupt the Islamist terrorists’ operations, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Most of the terrorists escaped with the help of allied Bedouin tribesmen who, familiar with every nook and cranny in the desert peninsula, guided them to safety in new caves in Jabal Halal that were even more inaccessible to Egyptian troops.

Their new headquarters can only be destroyed by cruise missiles capable of exploding underground.

The Egyptians and Americans believe that if the Jabal Halal cave system sheltering the ISIS-Sinai core command center is destroyed, its long campaign of terror will be curtailed. The flow of terrorist manpower, arms and explosives from the mountain to the networks which terrorize the population and Egyptian forces of northern Sinai will dry up.

Jabal Halal is also the hub of the ISIS smuggling networks, through which fighters and arms are moved from southern Libya into Sinai and Egypt. Knocking it out will also deliver a resounding blow to that traffic.

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.