HOMEGROWN TERRORISM IN EGYPT
Homegrown terrorism is terrorism perpetrated by a terrorist against their country. This is a type of terrorism where violent acts are done by permanent residents of a country within the borders of their country with a purpose of instilling fear to the citizens or intimidate the government. Over the years, this type of terrorism has become more prevalent and more dangerous. Terrorism grows with incitement, hatred, and violence. Homegrown terrorism has increased at a high rate in the last decade due to the ease of movement of information. The primary source of increasing cases of homegrown terrorism is the military operations being carried out against the Muslims in various parts of the world. In this paper, homegrown terrorism in Egypt is evaluated and the policies the government is taking to combat it.
Egypt is considered as a country having a high risk regarding terrorism. There has been a jihadist insurgency especially in North Sinai where most of the terrorist attacks have been carried out. These attacks are usually targeted towards security forces, Christians, and tourists. The foreign businesses in Egypt are also subject to attacks by terrorists with the frequency of these attacks increasing steadily recently. In 2015, there was a total of 257 terrorist attacks, and total causalities were 1,143. The major group that is responsible for attacks in Egypt is ISIL-Sinai which is a branch of ISIL in Sinai, Egypt. The threat of terrorism is straining the country’s economy by hurting the tourism industry which is one of the key sources of government revenue.
Terrorism in Egypt is not a problem that has started in recent years. In 1943, the Muslim Brotherhood was formed and claimed responsibility for assassinating a judge in 1948. Still, in the same year, Prime Minister was shot and killed by a member of this group. Throughout the 1980s to 2000s, terrorism in Egypt grew and targeted government officials, Christians, and tourists. Terrorist attacks became more frequent and severe as many terrorist organizations were formed. The terrorists are now more armed and have the ability to arrange a sophisticated attack on the security forces and civilians alike.
Terrorism in the world has been on the increase recently as compared to the past decades. Unemployment of the youth, corruption, and incitement are the major factors of radicalization of the youth today. The internet is now being used to not only radicalize the young people but also to train them on using of dangerous weapons. Also, the formation of large groups of terror such as the ISIS and Al-Qaeda have also contributed to the increase in terrorism around the world. These organizations have been expanding at an alarming rate recruiting members in many countries and creating sleeper cells. They are also responsible for training other terrorists and supplying them with arms and weapons used to carry out acts of terrorism. These organizations take advantage of political instability to infiltrate a country and brainwash some of the people who are then used to achieve their goals. In Egypt, there was political unrest around 2013 where a coup took place where Mohamed Morsi was removed from power forcefully. Since then, new terrorist groups such as Hazmoun, Helwan Brigade, Molotov, lone wolves, Liwaa al-Thawra and Hasm have emerged. IS Sinai has also increased its activities in and around Cairo. Liwaa al-Thawra and Hasm has also gained attention from their upscale attacks especially on security personnel.
Policies Used in Egypt to counter terrorism
After President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came into power by overthrowing Mohamed Morsi, the terrorist groups in Egypt have stepped up their activities. Mohamed Morsi was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and his removal from the government was followed by a crackdown on its members. The government launched a deadly crackdown on the group arresting many of its members with hundreds being given a life sentence. This violent crackdown may have resulted in the creation of the new terrorist organizations. During Morsi’s presidency, many terrorist 0organizations targeted Israeli’s, Christians, foreign tourists, and businesses. However, following his removal, the security personnel such as police and army was now targeted by these violent acts. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has employed two major policies to counter terrorism in the country.
El-Sisi issued the policies regarding mosques to curb extremist ideology and any political agitation that is religiously motivated. These policies led to the closure of thousands of mosques in Egypt. They also banned some Salafi texts in Mosques and prevented preachers from talking about politics in their sermons. The president of Egypt targeted mosques since this is where young people are radicalized by rogue preachers and other terrorist leaders. By cleaning up the mosques, this was the first step in the fight against homegrown terrorism in Egypt.
El-Sisi has also passed the Counter-Terrorism Law which has established the court and special procedures for trying suspected terrorists, increased military, and police power and punish journalists reporting differently from the ministry of defense (Human Rights Watch, 2015). Under these new laws, suspected terrorists are tried in special courts which fast-tracks the process. A sentence of 10 years awaits a person found guilty of joining a terrorist group (BBC, 2015). Anyone convicted of financing a terrorist group also faces 25 years in jail or life imprisonment. Creating websites spreading terrorist ideologies and messages or inciting violence results in a prison sentence of seven years. Journalists who differ from the official accounts given by the government in regards to terrorism are fined $25,000 - $64,000. This new law also protects the police and the army from being prosecuted even after use of lethal force. Since 2013, no single security officer has been indicted and jailed for violation of human rights (Dunne & Williamson, 2014). However, around 2500 people in Egypt have been since 2013 in clashes and demonstrations.
Opinion on policies being used in Egypt to fight terrorism
The government in Egypt is under pressure from the existing and new terrorist groups mushrooming in the country. Since 2013, the government has increased their offense on such groups through stringent laws and physical combat. The terrorist groups have also increased their attacks and are now more coordinated and better trained. A debate on the effect of the policies being employed by the government to counter terrorism has been going on for quite a period now. The people who are supporting the government claim that the new laws are enough to fight terrorism by crushing the groups out of existence. The army and the policemen have also been given the power to use all necessary power need to fight the militants. The excess force employed by the government have led to the creation of new terrorist organizations whose primary target is the government. One of the group, The Revolutionary Punishment claims that the dictator regime, Egyptian army, and police are its primary targets (Ragab, 2016). However, those against the government rightly argue that the use of extreme force is the wrong way to handle the issue. The government may be as well be helping to radicalize its citizens. The new laws do not respect the fundamental human rights and have been heavily criticized. These policies enacted by the government may not be successful in the long run, and the government should reevaluate some of them.
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