Egypt’s Efforts and it’s Comprehensive Approach to Counter Terrorism and Extremism Ideology Conducive to Terrorism
The 30th of June 2013 Revolution was a pivotal moment in Egypt’s modern history. The revolution that was launched by the Egyptian people against the fascist terrorist “Muslim Brotherhood (MB)” regime put Egypt back on the right track, as it clearly exposed the so-called “Islamist” groups that exploit religion to achieve their pernicious political goals. The Egyptian people succeeded in aborting the scheme of the MB’s terrorist organization and its supporting countries, which was aimed at toppling the institutions of the Nation State, as had taken place in a number of countries in the region, while imposing the MB’s twisted “takfiri” ideology. Indeed, all terrorist groups, regardless of their names, are derived from the MB terrorist organisation and the bloodthirsty extremist ideology developed by its founder terrorists, “Sayyid Qutb” and “Hasan Al-Banna“, such as “Al-Hakmiyyah” and “Al-Jahiliyah“, and “Ustadhiyat Al-‘Aalam“.
On a similar note, the wave of terrorism the world witnessed during the past five years has confirmed to the international community that terrorism is a global multifaceted cross-border phenomenon and is not related to a specific religion, culture or geographic region. It has also shown that terrorism is an existential threat to everyone and undermines States’ capabilities and development acquis. Terrorism, whether stemming from an extremist ideology based on false and deviant religious interpretations, or from racism and xenophobia, requires collective action to confront it in all its forms and manifestations, and to address its root causes from a comprehensive and integrated perspective.
It is in this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt is pleased to present the “National Counter-Terrorism Report – 2020”, which was prepared in coordination with relevant Ministries and national institutions. It aims at providing a clear picture of the policies adopted, realities on the ground, efforts undertaken, best practices and lessons learned in the field of counter-terrorism, based on Egypt’s Comprehensive Approach. Egypt remains committed to confronting the scourge of terrorism and will continue to be at the forefront of the international community’s efforts in this regard.
Egypt’s Comprehensive Approach to Counter Terrorism and Extremist Ideology Conducive to Terrorism
- In spite of the international efforts made to counter terrorism and extremism, as well as the various initiatives and UN Security Council resolutions, the international community continues to suffer from this phenomenon. Egypt has thus called on the international community to enhance the effectiveness of international efforts by adopting a comprehensive approach to counter the scourge of terrorism, so that it is not limited to security measures, but also includes economic, social, cultural, educational, developmental and ideological dimensions. Egypt also believes that this ideological dimension should be prioritized as it constitutes a key driver for committing terrorist acts, while stressing that terrorism is not related to any particular religion, culture or geographic region.
- This approach stems from the necessity of preserving the foundations of the Nation State and its institutions, while respecting the principle of “the primary responsibility of the State” and the central role of its national institutions in combating terrorism and extremism. It is also based upon the need to respect the principle of State sovereignty, and that the role the civil society can play is complimentary to support the efforts of the State under its official umbrella.
- Egypt’s comprehensive approach, which aims at addressing the root causes of terrorism, entails the following:
- Confronting all terrorist organizations without exception as they derive from the same ideological source; the extremist and bloody “takfiri” thought of the “MB” terrorist organization created by “Sayyid Qutb” and “Hasan al–Banna“, which is based on false and deviant religious interpretations to achieve political ends.
- Reaching an internationally agreed-upon definition of terrorism. “Terrorism” should not be replaced with any other description or establishing false terms that would unjustifiably distinguish between different terrorist organizations by classifying some of them as “terrorists” and others as “less violent or nonviolent extremist”. Using terms such as “violent extremism” or “Violent Extremist Groups” instead of “Terrorist Groups”, contributes to mitigating or justifying their crimes – whether these groups have as their reference a “takfiri” ideology, or racism or white supremacism, all of which are conducive to terrorism. Adopting a selective approach in this regard would undermine regional and international efforts and commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in contravention of relevant United Nations resolutions. The international community should also refrain from promoting some other misleading terms such as “jihad” / “jihadists”, “militants”, and “insurgents” when describing terrorists or terrorist acts, as it would also legitimize and justify the heinous crimes committed by these terrorists.
- Ensuring that countries are held accountable if they sponsor terrorist entities and host their members, including “foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs)”, offering them safe havens, arms and training or facilitating their movement across their territories to other regions to destabilize them, or provide them with financial, logistical, political and media support, in clear violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, thus threatening international peace and security. This requires that all Member States respect their legal obligations in this regard under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, especially UNSCR 2462 (2019) on “preventing and combating terrorist financing”, and resolution 2396 (2017) on “preventing the movement of foreign terrorist fighters”. The latter includes the requirement that States notify other countries in the event of the arrival, deportation, or arrest of terrorist suspects. States should moreover comply to UNSCR 2370 (2017) regarding the prevention of terrorists from acquiring weapons. This is in addition to the need to suppress terrorist groups’ abilities, and their supporters, to exploit new technology, including artificial intelligence, for terrorist purposes.
- Not to distinguish between actual terrorist act, and extremist thought or inflammatory speech conducive to terrorism.
- Strengthening international cooperation to undermine the ability of terrorist organizations to recruit new members, including foreign terrorist fighters, especially among youth, by:
- Preventing terrorist organizations and their supporters from using modern means of communication and social media to spread extremist ideology and hate speech (whether it stems from “takfiri” ideology of terrorist organizations and their supporters, or racism and xenophobia, all of which are conducive to terrorism and threaten international peace and security. This includes requesting the private sector, especially companies providing social media services, to remove extremist and inflammatory content on their websites, and shutting down websites that include such content. These companies should moreover provide the requesting countries with the required data about users who exploit those platforms for terrorist purposes with a view to bringing them to law enforcement authorities. In this context, it is important not to confuse between the right to freedom of expression and the abuse of this right for terrorist purposes. Therefore, Egypt calls for the need to implement the UNSCR 2354 (2017) on countering terrorist narratives, which Egypt previously submitted during its non-permanent membership of the Security Council.
- Bolstering international efforts to dry up the sources of terrorist financing, whether through individuals or transnational organized crime networks or States and terrorist entities. Such efforts should also target States or terrorist entities that abuse non-governmental or charitable, relief and advocacy organizations as a Front for them to collect donations to finance terrorist activities, including disseminating extremist narratives conducive to terrorism. Furthermore, preventing terrorists from acquiring arms in compliance with UNSCR 2370 (2017).
- Addressing the nexus between terrorist organizations and transnational organized crime groups, whether those involved in trafficking drugs, humans or arms, is one of the main elements for enhancing the effectiveness of counter-terrorism efforts. Experience has shown that the most successful way to achieve this goal is by strengthening the foundations of the Nation Sate and building the capacities of its institutions, in order to prevent any risk of creating a security vacuum that might be exploited and filled by such terrorist groups and organized crimes. This was especially evident in some countries in the region during the past years where the collapse of the national institutions created a political and social vacuum through which some terrorist and sectarian organizations infiltrated. This is what Egypt succeeded in confronting and preventing with the 30th of June 2013 Revolution, due to the awareness of its people.
- The importance of confronting the recent trend of terrorist organizations resorting to the use of “virtual” or “crypto” currencies in financial transfers for the purpose of money laundering and to finance their terrorist activities. Effective measures should be implemented to address the new methods in terrorist financing, in order to keep pace with the qualitative development that has occurred in this domain.
National policies and measures
1.The Legislative dimension:
- Combatting terrorism is a constitutional obligation. Article 237 of the new Egyptian constitution (2014) stipulates “the State is committed to confronting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and tracking its sources of finance. The law regulates counter-terrorism provisions and procedures and ensures fair compensation for serious damage through and by it.” The Egyptian State considers combating terrorism not only an obligation in the context of protecting its national security, but also for defending the most basic of human rights, which is the right to life.
- An integrated package of national legislation was developed in line with Egypt’s constitutional commitment and its obligations under Security Council resolutions and regional and international agreements related to counter terrorism, as well as the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
- At the forefront of this package of legislation is Law No. 80 of 2002 on anti-money laundering (amended by Resolution No. 36 of 2014) and its executive regulations, which aim at improving the means of combating the constantly evolving innovative methods and trends of terrorist financing and to be consistent with the 40 recommendations issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- Law No. 94 of 2015 on counter-terrorism is a comprehensive law with the aim of combatting terrorist crimes and their funding and addresses the different relevant substantive and procedural matters related to terrorist activities. It provides for effective procedures and deterrent penalties needed to complete the requirements for the legal confrontation of terrorism. The provisions of the law are drawn from relevant Security Council resolutions along with international and regional instruments and conventions, to ensure full respect of Egypt’s obligations under international law. This law includes comprehensive definitions prohibiting terrorist individuals and entities and terrorist crimes, and penalizes the attempt to commit, or incite to the commitment of terrorist crimes with the same sentences prescribed for the complete crime, even if incitement does not have any impact. The Law moreover regulates asset-freezing decisions concerning the prevention of the disposal of funds. The law assigns certain courts to investigate misdemeanours, felonies and appeals related to terrorist criminal cases.The law also addresses the phenomenon of terrorists who leave their countries to fight alongside terrorist groups, extending the scope of criminalization to include facilitating the recruitment of others or passing through a third country for the purpose of joining terrorist groups, pursuant to UNSCR 2187 (2014). Furthermore, the law criminalises the incitement to terrorist crimes and ideas calling for the use of violence, while explicitly addressing the challenge of online and cyber terrorism given the recent trends and developments. The law also set a number of complementary sentences to be used by the court in its verdicts, in addition to the main sentences for terrorist crimes, as precautionary measures to address the risk of the convict returning to his criminal activity. These precautionary measures include regulations on freezing funds, preventing their disposal or management, as well as travel bans.
- It is important to point out that the law ensures the protection of the rights of the defendant (accused), including his/her right to a fair, just and public trial before an impartial and independent natural judge who has immunity from removal from office, as well as the right of the defendant to contact his family and his lawyer. This is a commitment based on the established constitutional provisions and the requirement to preserve the dignity of the defendant and not to torture or intimidate or harm him physically or mentally. Prisons and places of detention are also subject to judicial supervision. The sanctity of private life, the presumption of innocence and the right of defence in person or by proxy are to be respected. The Public Prosecution is, in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution, an integral part of the judiciary. The Public Prosecutor remains independent and impartial, and is selected by the Supreme Judicial Council without the interference of the executive branch.
- The aforementioned law supplements Law No. 8 of 2015 regulating the lists of terrorist individuals and entities (amended by Law No. 11 of 2017). Its aim is to defeat terrorism and dry up its sources by listing the names of terrorist individuals, entities and groups involved in the perpetration of or incitement to terrorism or in breaching public order, and thereby monitor and ban their activities. The criminalization of related activities in this law is in accordance with the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and international standards in the field of money laundering and terrorist financing. It also laid down the rules for designating entities and individuals whose acts are not directed against the Arab Republic of Egypt, as well as procedures for publication, appeal and management of seized funds. This law also allowed the designation of a number of local terrorist groups and individuals on the related national list.
- Law No. 11 of 2017 was enacted to amend some provisions of Law No. 8 of 2015 with the aim of ensuring that all anti-terrorism legislation are in full compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and international instruments and conventions that Egypt is party to, as follows:
- Two articles were added: Article 3 paragraph 2, according to which “the designation request by the Public Prosecutor is submitted to the competent court along with all the documents, investigations reports or other information supporting this request); and Article 4 paragraph 1, which states that “listing on either of the two lists is for a period of time not exceeding five years”.
- A new item; No. 5, was added to paragraph 2 of Article 7 of Law No. 8 of 2015, prohibiting the practice by terrorist individuals and entities of all civil or preaching activities under any name.
- A new article was also added, Article 8 bis, which states “if new information or evidence becomes available, for the public prosecutor, on the existence of fixed or transferred funds resulting from the activities of any terrorist individual or entity listed or not included in the national lists; or are used to finance them in any way, or to finance those who are affiliated or associated with them, to order the seizure of the funds and prevent the owners or holders from their disposal. The related order is submitted to the competent department stipulated in Article 3 of this law within a month from the date of its issuance, with a view to upholding, revoking or amending it.
- Article 39 paragraph 2 was amended to read as follows “the court also decides, upon conviction, to confiscate all money proven to be spent on terrorist acts and to include the convict and the terrorist entity he is affiliated with in the lists stipulated in Law No. 8 of 2015”.
- Likewise, Article 40 paragraph 3, states that “the Public Prosecution or the relevant competent investigation authority, stipulated in the first paragraph of this article, may before the expiry of the period stipulated by it, order the continuation of the detention for a period of fourteen days, renewable only once, and the order is to be accompanied by a statement of reasons by at least a public defender or equivalent”.
- Law No. 14 of 2020 also amended some provisions of the Terrorist Entities Law No. 8 of 2015, as the Egyptian legislator was keen on ensuring that the law is consistent with international standards, especially with regard to the requirement to determine the scope of funds or assets; and the significance of terrorist financing; and the inclusion of the criminalization of individuals’ travel to contribute to terrorist activities. These amendments have targeted the following:
- Strengthening the State’s ability to implement its international obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions and international agreements to which Egypt has acceded and ratified it, as well as the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), related to targeted financial sanctions in the framework of combating terrorism and its financing.
- Further expanding the definition of terrorist entity and terrorist funds, as it was made more comprehensive by adding to it, new effects resulting from the designation of a terrorist individual or entity on the terrorist lists, as well as with regard to the publication of the listing decisions. The phrase “companies and unions” was added to the definition of a terrorist entity. The original definition of “funds” was replaced by a more comprehensive and broader definition to cover all financial assets and economic resources, including oil and other natural resources and any property, whether material, in-kind, movable or immovable (real estate) whatever the means of obtaining them, as well as the documents, legal tools and foreign or national currencies, securities or commercial instruments and bonds that are supported by documentation proving ownership of all the above assets, whatever their forms, including the digital and electronic forms, and all rights related to any of them, such as bank credit, travel and banking checks, paper credits, and any interest, profits, or other income sources arising from or generated by these funds and assets, or any other assets that may be used to obtain financing, products or services.
- To include the loss of membership in professional unions, boards of directors of companies, associations, and professional institutions, and any entity in which the State or citizens have contributed to, the councils of clubs and sports federations, and any public interest entity; criminalizing the activity of legal persons involved in a terrorist act; and finally imposing an additional fine when the funds cannot be seized or disposed of for lack of goodwill.
- In light of the practical considerations related to the application of Law No. 94 of 2015, the house of representatives amended it through Law No. 15 of 2020 as follows:
- Replacing the definition of funds or assets in Article 1 (clause F) in order to include all material and virtual assets, their returns, economic resources, and all the rights related to any of them. The new law has also highlighted some of the legal tools created for those rights. Virtual assets were added to other elements that are included in the definition as stipulated in the original text, with the aim of ensuring that the law is consistent with the amendments to the FATF evaluation methodology with respect to virtual assets and service providers.
- Replacing the definition of terrorist financing in Article 3 to include funds and assets resulting from any individual or collective, terrorist activity, inside or outside Egypt, directly or indirectly. The new law also criminalized knowingly providing any support whether by offering a space for training or a safe haven for one or more terrorists or providing them with arms, documents, or any other means of support or financing, or travel, even if it is not linked to the terrorist act. This is in addition to the elements that are included in the definition as stipulated in the original text. This law aims at ensuring compliance with international standards in defining “terrorist financing” and what it entails, whether the terrorist act occurs or not, or even when the financing is not directly linked to the terrorist act.
- Article (13) regarding the criminalization of terrorist financing was also replaced with a view to including in it the funding of the movement of nationals of one State to travel to a country other than that of their residence or their nationality to commit terrorist acts or to plan, prepare for or participate in the terrorist act, or provide assistance in whatever form. It also equated between crimes that are committed by a terrorist group or legal person, thus expanding the scope of criminalization of terrorist activities committed by legal persons.
- In Article 2, the phrase “the funds and other assets” replaced the word “funds” wherever it was mentioned in Law No. 94 of 1995.
- Article 3 amended Article 39 by adding a third paragraph, imposing an additional fine equal to the value of the funds and assets shown in the first paragraph of this article, which were allocated for use in a terrorist act, in case it was not possible to seize funds or they were disposed of.
- Law No. 175 of 2018 on combatting information technology crimes, imposed further restrictions on terrorist crimes by criminalizing any act of infiltration or attack on the State’s information systems or any other act using information technology to facilitate the perpetration of terrorist crimes.
- In addition to the above, Law No. 14 (amended by Law No. 95 of 2015) regarding the sustainable development of the Sinai Peninsula, regulates the process of ownership of land, real estate and investment in Sinai.
- Last but not least; Law No. 149 of 2019 regulating the exercise of civil work, the provisions of which apply to Egyptian regional and foreign non-governmental organizations, in order to support civil work with a legal umbrella that would make it easier for civil society organizations to work in the social, economic, cultural and environmental fields to support sustainable development plans. At the same time, the law counters all acts of discrimination, violence and terrorism.
2. Preventative, educational and awareness-raising measures/Countering terrorist narratives:
The tragic terrorist act in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, has contributed greatly to creating an international momentum around the importance of addressing hate speech emanating from extremist thought, whether it stems from a deviant religious ideology or racism, both of which are conducive to terrorism. The following are some of the policies and measures taken by several Ministries and Governmental institutions to prevent radicalization, build society’s resilience to toxic terrorist narratives, and raise awareness on the methods used by terrorists to recruit and radicalize the youth.
Building society resilience to counter terrorism and extremist ideology:
- Egypt has been proactive in taking practical steps in this field, based on the conviction of the Egyptian State of the need to prioritize the ideological confrontation in order to protect society, especially youth, from the dangers of radicalization. This is in line with the State’s comprehensive approach to counter terrorism. The President of the Republic launched an initiative in 2014, to renew and correct religious discourse.
- Based on that pioneering initiative, official religious institutions led by the esteemed “Al-Azhar” are active in confronting extremist ideas conducive to terrorism, through refuting and discrediting “takfiri” fatwas and extremist opinions and deviant interpretations based on “takfiri” ideology promoted by terrorist organizations. These religious institutions, such as “Al-Azhar” and “Dar El Iftaa” create a counter-discourse based on a sound understanding of the true nature of religion and its moderate values. The following are some of their activities in this regard:
- Establishing the “Al-Azhar Global Centre for Electronic Fatwas”, which is concerned with providing true “fatwas” (non-binding Shari’a-based rulings) and exposing the deviation of rigid extremist “fatwas”, as well as the “Al-Azhar Translation Center” in 2006, which is tasked with translating the literature that gives a true picture of Islam.
- “Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism” is one of the most prominent entities of Al-Azhar. It is tasked with monitoring manifestations of extremism in twelve languages (Arabic, English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Turkish, African languages, Italian, Urdu, Persian, Hebrew) and analyzes them. It moreover deconstructs extremist thought through its publications, articles, reports and the awareness raising campaigns it launches to present the true image of religion, and to counter extremist thought.
- Challenging the spread of the extremist ideology, the Observatory has taken some measures to develop a counter narrative to the terrorist groups that distort the true image of moderate religion through their extremist media discourse. The latter strategy of terrorist groups works on stripping religious values of their sublime core of mercy, peace, dialogue, tolerance and diversity, while promoting violence, killing and terrorism.
- The Observatory has developed a strategic plan based on a set of pillars, the most important of which is outreach to youth to introduce them to “Al-Azhar’s” message of moderation and reemphasizing the moderate, religious and moral values that call for pride, loyalty and love of the Nation. “Al-Azhar” encourages accepting differences in a framework of tolerance, and embracing the values of citizenship, diversity and difference as an essential and normal law of existence. Moreover, The Observatory promotes the values of human fraternity, and respect for human beings as the best of God’s creation regardless of their color, race or religion. The Observatory uses all available means such as social media, the electronic portal of Al-Azhar, as well as magazines and newspapers such as “Sawt Al-Azhar” and “Marsad” magazine, and many other publications of “Al-Azhar Al-Sharif”.
- The Observatory has produced a variety of both printed and digital material including short text messages, opinion articles, reports, lengthy studies, and books containing references and sources in twelve languages. The Observatory also released dozens of video clips in Arabic and foreign languages on countering extremism and clarified the falsehood of extremist groups’ allegations regarding the main pillars of religious concepts.
- The Observatory is one of Al-Azhar’s strategies for renewing religious discourse. It addresses the world in multiple languages to expose all terrorist organizations and extremist ideas. It organizes conferences addressing the issue of renewing religious discourse required by the development of the times. Among those conferences was the “Al-Azhar International Conference for the Renewal of Islamic Thought and Sciences”, which was held under the patronage of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of the Republic, on 27 and 28 January 2020, and in the presence of a group of prominent leaders and prominent political and religious figures at the world level. Participants also included representatives of ministries of Religious Endowments, Fatwa institutions and Islamic councils from 46 countries of the Islamic world. The conference discussed conceptual framework of renewal of religious thought, its mechanisms, the dismantling of misconceptions, women and family issues, and the role of international, religious and academic institutions in renewing Islamic thought. As a result of this conference, the Grand Imam Sheikh of “Al-Azhar” inaugurated a new body called “Al-Azhar Centre for Heritage and Innovation”, which includes Muslim scholars from inside and outside Egypt, as well as a group of university professors and specialists in the relevant fields of knowledge.
- The most significant activities of “AL -Azhar” Observatory for combatting extremism are as follows:
- The translation of publications by terrorist groups is a priority for the various observatory units so that it can address all the false issues and ideas propagated by terrorist organizations. The Observatory has translated many digital publications issued by terrorist organizations, including Daesh/ISIS’s “Roumieh” and “Konstantiniyye” magazine, in addition to translating some magazines issued in the Swahili language by terrorist groups in Africa.
- After the translation of these publications, they are studied, analysed and monitored for extremist content. The observatory’s refutations and response to the extremist content is then published in Arabic and other languages so that youth and non-experts can comprehend them. Among the most significant responses that the Observatory made to counter the terrorist groups’ propaganda, was to discredit the labelling of societies as disbelievers (“takfir”) and apostates, describing political leaders as tyrants, and sheikhs and scholars as immoral and apostates.
- The Observatory also clarified and refuted the misguidance of these terrorist groups and their twisted concepts of “jihad”, “Al-Khila’fa (caliphate)”, and ”Al-Hakimiya (governance)”. It then translates the “Shari’a”-based and rational responses that suit each audience and every context while countering the thought and narratives of terrorist groups. The Observatory publishes and disseminates these translations through its various platforms, and translates the awareness campaigns into all of its languages to address youth around the world.
- Monthly releases:
In addition to the daily and weekly periodic reports and the articles through which Al-Azhar Observatory refutes all the false ideas extremist organizations seek to promote, the Observatory issues a monthly report. It summarizes the Observatory units’ activities throughout the month. It is uploaded on the Al-Azhar digital portal, and is also printed and delivered to a number of State institutions.
- “Shari’a”-based Articles Reports and Responses:
- Since its inception, the Observatory has written more than 20,000 periodic reports including daily, weekly, bi-monthly and monthly, covering the issues that the Observatory is monitoring, namely: Countering extremism- monitoring the situations of Muslims around the world- Hate speech and the extreme right- Islamophobia, refugees- the situation of the Rohingya- the issue of Jerusalem.” The Observatory was keen from its inception to provide youth with enlightened thought, to demonstrate the corruption of extremism from both an ideological and practical perspective, and to demonstrate that terrorism is an industry that has nothing to do with Islam.
- Below are some examples of “Al-Azhar” Observatory reports and articles:
- In a report titled “The Principle of “Al-Sama’ w’al ta’aa (to hear and obey)” in Extremist Groups”, the Observatory answered some questions, including: “Are the terrorist groups killing, devastation, and destruction truly in the name of religion? And where did the leaders of the organizations acquire the alleged sacredness, which commands obedience?” Was the pledge of allegiance from these people correct, so that their leaders deserved the title “Caliph of the Muslims”? The Observatory in this report provided satisfactory answers to these and other questions supported by texts of the Prophet’s (PBUH) “Seera” ( biography) and ”Hadith”(quotes).
- The Observatory is closely monitoring “The hostile acts targeting Islam and Muslims in Europe” and has come to the conclusion that such heinous acts serve as the first step towards building the “extremist ideology”, which eventually evolves into acts of “violence and terrorism”. The Observatory has also concluded that falsifying the reality helps in nourishing the environment where this ideology develops and evolves. This leaves those who are working in the field of combating the extremist ideologies in a difficult situation where they find themselves confronting an ideology capable of developing and evolving especially in environments of conflicts and fear.
- In a report titled “Emotions and their role in the creation of extremism,” the Observatory highlighted how emotions are some of the moral needs that play a pivotal role in shaping the identity of the individual, and that it is sometimes the reason that individuals fall into the clutches of extremism, especially when the individual feels an emotional gap between him and those around him.
- The Observatory also focused on the phenomenon of the extreme right and its growth in recent years in Western countries. It perceived that its followers mainly targeted migrants, especially Muslims. The followers of this extremist ideology called for expelling the immigrants and closing the doors to any new waves of migration, while using violence as a path towards achieving their goals. When these tactics did not produce results, they took advantage of democratic tools to gain power, aiming at achieving their goals through legal institutions, and the enactment of legislation. This policy unfortunately has paid off; as some of these parties have come to power in many European countries, while their counterparts in other countries are following the same path.
- The Observatory has also issued a report titled “Ideologies of extremist groups in the West”, the report recommends that facing such extremist ideology requires close cooperation between States and a legal criminalization of all forms of hate-based attacks. It moreover requires Muslims residing in these countries to make further efforts to integrate into their societies, and not to live in closed communities in these countries, which ultimately serves the political agenda of these extremists.
- In an article titled “Fanaticism: Its Role in the creation of extremism”, the Observatory pointed out that one of the most dangerous forms of intolerance is “intellectual fanaticism”. The latter induces individuals to reject pluralism and difference of views and to be fanatic about their convictions even when they know they are not right, thus making him an easy prey to extremism and violence.
- On the importance of family and its role in protecting children from destructive and extremist ideas, the Observatory prepared a report titled “The role of the family in combating extremism”, stressing that there should be concerted efforts to undertake this task in the most effective manner so that humanity will emerge from the darkness of extremism and intolerance.
- Awareness- raising Programmes:
Since its inception the Observatory has launched many programmes in all the languages of the Observatory, which include awareness-raising campaigns that aim at addressing the mind and teach youth critical thinking. These programmes challenge the mind by presenting rational ideas to them, thus making it difficult for terrorist groups to attract or radicalize them. These programmes are divided into two parts:
- Field campaigns:
The “Tarq Al-Abwab (Knocking on Doors)” campaign aims at reaching out to youth in the venues they frequent and during their events and gatherings, including at Universities, mosques, and churches inside and outside Egypt, as well as through participation in international book fairs and symposia. The campaign also aims at sensitizing youth to the dangers of extremist thought, and highlights religious and moral values through a series of lectures on combating extremism. Internationally, the Observatory held many lectures, seminars and workshops in mosques, churches and universities in many countries of the world such as France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Colombia, Pakistan and many African countries.
- Published / printed campaigns:
- These campaigns are a collection of short messages written in simple, easy-to-read and understandable language, addressed to youth to enlighten them about the most important contemporary issues and correcting misconceptions promoted by terrorist groups. Other campaigns address the revival of societal and ethical values. The Observatory publishes and translates these campaigns on social media pages, the most important of which are:
- The “Yad’oon wa nahnu nosaheh (They allege and we reply)” Campaign: A campaign published in short messages summarizing the basic ideas of the Observatory articles and their replies mentioned above including: terrorist groups, their ideologies about “Jihad”, “Takfir” and “al-Hakimiyyah”, and to refute the wrong and erroneous interpretations made by these groups of the Qur’anic verses in a way that serves their plans.
- The campaign “Qiyam Insaniya (Human Values)”: aims at inculcating a set of values such as citizenship, tolerance, acceptance of the other, mercy and honesty, among youth and societies in general.
- The “Rahma lel Alamiyn (Mercy of the Worlds)” campaign: It aims at showing the merciful side of the Prophet in his relationships with his family, his companions, and his community, and even those who were hostile and resentful towards him.
- “Anty Maliykah (You are a Queen)” campaign aims at demonstrating the value of women in Islam, and how Islam honoured and exalted them.
- “Watani (My Nation)” campaign, which was launched by the Observatory with the aim of strengthening the national identity and the sense of patriotism among youth that terrorist groups are trying to destroy. The Observatory also endeavoured through this campaign to educate youth about the value and importance of the country, and urged them to preserve its cohesion, to seek prosperity and development, and to strive for its development and defence.
- Countering false news:
“Let’s stop rumours” campaign: Al-Azhar Observatory has been always aware of the dangers posed by terrorist organizations and those with malignant tendencies to provoke discord within societies. Extremist media discourse focuses on two dangerous methodologies: the first of which is to spread rumours that divide societies and question the legitimacy of their political and religious leaders, and the second one works on weakening the sense of belonging and destroy the national identity among youth. Based on the aforementioned, Al-Azhar Observatory launched a campaign named “Let’s stop rumours” in 12 languages that was aimed at fighting rumours and highlighting their dangers to all communities. The campaign received vast positive feedback in society, and was circulated on digital and print media inside and outside Egypt. The campaign was also praised by the media and sociology experts as they celebrated the launching of the campaign on such a crucial time, asserting Al-Azhar’s illuminating role.
- Participation of Al-Azhar Observatory in international peace convoys:
- In addition to inviting the Observatory to many international conferences, members of the Observatory have participated since its inception in the project of international peace convoys for more than twenty countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America. For example, convoys were launched to Germany, Spain, Italy, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Central Africa, Nigeria, and other countries, to spread the message of Al-Azhar and the Council of Muslim Scholars on coexistence and peace. Through these convoys, the members of the observatory have lectured in dozens of churches, universities, Islamic centres, Christian associations, radio stations, etc., which have had extensive global and local impact.
- These convoys aim at promoting the values of dialogue, peace and coexistence, consolidating moderate religious discourse, and protecting youth from falling into the clutches of extremist groups. They also aim at responding to falsities propagated by these groups, and present the efforts of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Council of Muslim Scholars to establish the values of citizenship, dialogue and coexistence between followers of different religions. They moreover emphasize the need for direct communication between peoples and civilizations, building bridges of cooperation and dialogue, and facing deviant ideas that lead to the disintegration of societies and the division between the people of the same country. The convoys also stress the importance of communication and knowledge exchange between Universities, especially “Al-Azhar” University, which is one of the oldest in the world, particularly in the field of Arab and Islamic studies. Furthermore, the convoys demonstrate the experience of the Al-Azhar Observatory in combatting extremism by monitoring and discrediting extremist ideology in more than ten languages.
- Seminars and training courses:
- The Al-Azhar Observatory organized in April 2019 a symposium titled: “The Role of Al-Azhar in Supporting a Culture of Peace and Countering Extremism in Africa”, in the Islamic delegations campus, within the framework of the educational and awareness-raising programme provided by the Observatory for international students.
- The Observatory also organized the second programme on raising the awareness of “the phenomenon of extremism and its dangers” in November 2019; this educational programme organized for students at Al-Azhar delegates’ hostel comes within Al-Azhar’s collaborations with other governmental institutions during Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in 2019. The programme focused on the most significant terrorist movements, groups and organizations active within the African continent, and discussed the most important doctrines these groups embrace, while reviewing means to combat them. The observatory’s efforts to provide real protection for youth of the continent to protect them from falling in the clutches of these terrorist groups.
- The observatory’s role in Hate speech issues, Islamophobia and the extreme right:
Based on its great interest in this phenomenon, the Al-Azhar Observatory was keen to study its causes and how to address it in several reports and articles. The latter addressed the manifestations of Islamophobia and indicators of hostile actions against Islam and Muslims, and similarities in other countries. These efforts culminated in the issuance of two important books “The escalation of the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the world”, and “Muslims of the World: Asylum, Islamophobia, and the Religious situation”.
Among the latest publications of the Al-Azhar Observatory:
- “Characteristics of the extremist personality”: explores the definition of extremism and its stages of development, its relationship to terrorism, and its economic, social, political, moral, ideological, psychological and behavioural motives.
- “Hate Speech in the International Media and its Repercussions and Implications for Muslims”: This study follows and produces statistics on hate speech and Islamophobia in the West (causes, forms of discrimination, dealing with terrorist changes and events, culture of difference, repercussions of hate speech and its victims … etc). As well as providing recommendations that are applicable regarding confronting hate speech and intolerance in the Western media.
- “The extreme right and its role in fuelling racist”: The study aims at introducing “the extreme right” as a radical movement in our time in many countries. The study focuses on the origins and development of the extreme right, and the most prominent stages it has gone through in recent years. The study describes the ideology on which right-wing extremism is based, its strategies and goals; comparing media coverage of extreme right crimes with that of crimes committed by foreigners in the same country. It also explores the largest-scale right-wing crimes in the world, the impact of political and economic events on the extreme right and its exploitation of the crimes committed by foreigners and refugees to justify and stoke racist rhetoric.
- “Women in the ranks of terrorist organizations”: a book that discusses motivations for women to join extremist groups and the means to recruit them. The study serves to educate girls about the methods of terrorist organizations and their deception of women.
- “Digital extremism”: This book explains how terrorist groups use modern means of technology and communication. It also warns the society as a whole from extremist groups’ social media recruiting strategies. Al-Azhar Observatory also prepared a number of articles and reports on cyber and online terrorism and the danger of extremist groups’ exploitation of certain websites and social media.
- “The phenomenon of lone wolves between theory and practice” is an academic study on that phenomenon and the historical sequence of its appearance, and how terrorist organizations and their propaganda can transform youth into time bombs. This study aims at educating societies about this dangerous phenomenon, and urging them to use counter-narratives to combat extremism.
- “Activities of terrorist groups in three years “includes statistics for the acts of terrorist groups in the last three years, based on sources in 12 languages, many international research centres and monitoring services, as well as official data of various Governments and countries.
On the international level, Al-Azhar Observatory has attracted the interest of some Heads of State, foreign ministries and several foreign and Arab delegations during their visits to Egypt. They were keen to understand the activities of the Observatory and its method of work, as well as the role of “Al-Azhar” in combatting extremism. The Ambassadors of foreign countries in Egypt are also keen to visit the Observatory and to explore its efforts to refute the distorted ideas adopted by terrorist groups.
- Furthermore, “Dar Al- Iftaa”, which is the main entity tasked with issuing “fatwa” inEgyptestablished the “Takfiri Fatwa Observatory” in 2014. It serves to counter extremist ideas and has launched several projects based on the interaction between academic experts specializing in extremism and terrorism and the sheikhs of “Dar Al- Iftaa” and clerics to respond scientifically to emerging issues. Such projects included the “Anatomy and understanding of the extremist mind”, and “Monitoring the fatwa promulgated by terrorist and extremist groups in the Islamic world”. Dar Al Iftaa sends one thousand of simplified messages on social media platforms, such as “Twitter” and “Facebook” to raise awareness about extremist ideas. In addition, it organizes regular training for imams and preachers in Egypt and the Islamic world on the means to counter extremist religious ideas, while providing technical and legal support to all countries, which would like to establish similar advisory institutions, including Thailand, Singapore and Chad.
- On the other hand, the Egyptian State takes all necessary measures to prevent misuse of mosques by any extremist elements or group. It terminates the service of those who are convicted in cases of corruption or terrorism and excludes them from preaching activities, in addition to the following steps at the local and external levels:
- The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs held several conferences with wide international participation, which constitutes an important component in countering terrorism and extremism, renewing religious discourse, and spreading enlightened moderate thought.
- Participation in many international conferences that discussed the issue of combating terrorism, the most recent of which was the “Building youth resilience Against Extremism” conference, which was held by the Muslim World League at the United Nations in Geneva.
- Meeting all requests of centres, institutions, associations, and countries by dispatching scholars and preachers to teach the Arabic language, propagating the true Islamic culture, and reciting the Holy Qur’an. Such requests are submitted to our Embassies and Consulates to these countries, with explicit consent to receiving the delegation. The number of permanent delegates of the ministry of Religious Endowments to date has reached 62 delegates to 17 countries. The ministry also dispatches annually competent imams and reciters to celebrate the month of Ramadan in various countries around the world. The number of delegated imams and reciters ranges between 75 to 100 delegates per year.
- Launching the “Muhammad (PBUH), the messenger to humanity” initiative to introduce the Prophet (PBUH) domestically and internationally, and to shed light on his morals, which are relevant to all the world and his message to humanity that rejects fanatism, violence, terrorism and extremism. The second is “This is Islam” initiative focusing on the moderation of Islam and to show the true and tolerant face of Islam, an initiative which saw wide interaction inside and outside Egypt.
- Organizing many cultural and religious seminars through several events in the major mosques, in cooperation with the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority, to address the most important issues of religious renewal and confront radical thought, with the participation of scholars qualified to renew religious thought. This, in addition to the launching several intellectual fora aiming at demonstrating the tolerance of Islam, propagating human morals and values, and reaffirming the concepts of peaceful coexistence among all people.
- Publishing several books during the period from 2014 to 2019. They aim at correcting misconceptions, countering distorted and extremist ideas, highlighting the true nature of religion, and exposing the misguidance of deviant groups in using some terms for purposes other than what they are meant for employing them to serve their malicious purposes. These terms include “jihad”, ”Al-Hakimiya” and “Al-Khilafa” and others. Among the most significant of these books are “Concepts that must be corrected” – “Towards renewing religious thought” – “Towards discrediting extremist thought” – “Protecting churches in Islam” – “Peaceful coexistence” – “Facilitating the pilgrimage” – “Islam speaks for itself” – “Countering the delusions of terrorists” – “The philosophy of war, peace, and governance” – “The understanding of the Prophet’s (PBUH) Sunnah” – “Issues of renewal and confrontation” – “Cultural dialogue between East and West”- “Protection Places of Worship, Jurisprudence of the Prophet’s (PBUH) Seera” a new reading”- “Concepts that must be corrected in Jurisprudence of the Seera and Sunnah).
- Allocating many Friday sermons to confront extremist and “takfiri” thought, demonstrate its dangers, and to correct misconceptions. These sermons call to uphold ethical values and citizenship rights, tolerance, and rejecting violence. Moreover, these sermons are translated into 18 written languages and 14 audio-visual languages and sign language, besides audio sermons broadcasted in media and channels concerned in cooperation with the National Media Authority.
- Organizing regular courses for imams to train other imams and female preachers in order to build their capacities, develop their skills, and build enlightened figures skilled at preaching. This takes place at the International Religious Endowments Academy, and many other training centres.
- The establishment of a large number of scientific schools, and Qur’an schools in major mosques, with the aim of disseminating enlightened moderate thought.
- Holding an international competition every year in memorizing and interpreting the Holy Qur’an, and understanding its purposes and meanings, the last of which is the twenty-seventh global competition.
- The Prime Minister’s decision no. 1894 of 20/8/2019 formed a committee that includes representatives of the ministries of religious Endowments, Culture, Education, Youth and Sports with the aim of expanding efforts to spread the appropriate ideas, especially among the young generations. The cooperation and coordination between these the ministries has focused on the following:
- The preparation of a graduated intermediate religious curriculum for students. Coordination is currently underway to issue the book “Values and Respect for the Other”, and to develop a general framework for it to be issued during the academic year 2020/21. Three publications by the Ministry of Awqaf were chosen as reference books for first, second, and third grade students:
- “Building the patriotic personality” for the first year of secondary school during the academic year 2020/21.
- “The cultural dialogue between East and West”, for the secondary high school class, during the academic year 2021/22.
- Within the framework of the cooperation between the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Culture, a series (Ru’yah) was launched including “cultural dialogue between East and West” -“Protection of places of worship”, “Building the national character” – “Countering the delusions of terrorists ” and “Building awareness”.
- Several skills development courses for religious education teachers were held at the headquarters of the International Religious Endowments Academy to train imams and preachers and prepare trainers. The number of these courses was intensified, and the number of participants doubled around the country.
- Several lectures were held in schools nationwide in the field of religious awareness, and these seminars and lectures are being expanded in various educational stages.
- A joint cultural competition was launched in cooperation between the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Education and Technical Education at different levels: for teachers, high school students, junior high school students and primary school students, which revolves in its entirety around the aforementioned publications.
- Within the framework of cooperation between the Ministry of Religious Endowments and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, many lectures were held at youth centres nationwide, camps, educational convoys, and youth cohorts in various Governorates of the Republic. Coordination and cooperation between the two ministries was also held at the “Youth Initiatives Using Information Technology in Defeating Terrorism” conference, organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports from 4 to 6 January 2020, at the headquarters of the League of Arab States.
- The Ministry of Religious Endowments e-portal was launched in the context of comprehensive e-development. Moreover, in an excellent use of modern communication technology, all the Ministry’s publications in the field of renewing religious discourse were converted into audio, visual, and translated programmes, as well as in print. These efforts aim at disseminating the true moderate thought, correcting misconceptions, and reaching the largest number of people through social media platforms.
- The preparation of a graduated intermediate religious curriculum for students. Coordination is currently underway to issue the book “Values and Respect for the Other”, and to develop a general framework for it to be issued during the academic year 2020/21. Three publications by the Ministry of Awqaf were chosen as reference books for first, second, and third grade students:
- On the other hand, a set of cultural and art programmes were established in accordance with the sustainable development strategy and the government’s work programme to uphold positive values in society and confront extremist ideas through many activities targeting various age groups, the most significant of which are:
- “Promoting the values of tolerance in the Egyptian society”, with the aim of encouraging a culture of accepting the other, who is culturally, ideologically and religiously different;
- “Fanaticism and extremism are old and modern diseases,” which aims at demonstrating that religious extremism is an ancient disease that is renewed in every age while exploring means to confront it;
- “What does the word Nation mean”, to explain the concepts of patriotism, the Nation and the importance of respecting social and cultural pluralism within it;
- “ The rights of the child in international covenants”, with the aim of explaining the rights guaranteed to children in international conventions such as the right to education, a decent life, safety and the right to housing, and work to provide cultural and artistic programmes to sensitize them from childhood on the positive values of tolerance and belonging, and distance them from extremist thought;
- “Arts and the emotional makeup of human beings”, to explain the psychological and emotional impact of fine arts on building personality;
- “Islam and Fine Arts”, aims at correcting the image of Islamic culture, as Islam did not prohibit singing, poetry, or painting and sculpting, but rather set standards to regulate these arts.
- “The culture of dialogue and difference in Islamic thought ” through reviewing the history of positive differences of opinions throughout the Islamic history and entrenching it as an approach, adopted by early Muslims;
- Holding a number of lectures, seminars, workshops and dialogue meetings with the participation of different age groups to raise awareness of the dangers of terrorism, means of combatting it, confronting extremism, rejecting violence and spread moderate ideas, in cooperation with the various ministries under the titles “The role of heavenly religions in establishing principles of tolerance and acceptance of the other” – “Citizenship and human rights in a future vision” – “The role of creativity in countering extremist ideology” “One hand” on the necessity of the synergy of State and citizens in confronting the extremist ideology and terrorism – “Ethics of dialogue, its prerequisites and objectives” – “The role of women in promoting the values of tolerance and acceptance of the other” – “Together against terrorism”- “Propagating of correct ideas” – “The role of national unity in the cohesion of society” – “The danger of terrorism to the individual and society”- “Means to combat terrorism and extremism”.
- Establishing several cultural fora for youth as the first line of defence for the Nation, with the aim of deepening the idea of belonging and citizenship. Improving the intellectual level of youth and building their resilience to radicalization and terrorism. The activities of the forum vary between crafts and traditional workshops, art works, theatre and literary workshops, in addition to open meetings.
- Holding a set of cultural and artistic events for girls in cooperation with the National Council for Women, in order to ensure the Egyptian State’s commitment to advance the status of women and their role in the development process. Other goals are to reduce gender gaps, achieve the equality and equal opportunities for citizens, promote integration, and empower women economically, intellectually and socially to counter extremism and terrorism.
- Organizing cultural convoys to confront extremist thought. The convoy includes cultural and artistic activities for adults and children, art shows, competitions and discovering talents, etc. They address many issues among which (the role of youth in preserving Egyptian heritage and identity / developing the spirit of belonging in the hearts of youth/ the role of national unity in the cohesion of society / Youth and National Awareness. The caravan also includes a human development and self-development workshop that discusses the following topics: How to understand yourself?/ How to understand others?/ How to deal with others? / How to be successful in life? / How to be effective in the lives of others?.
- Arranging cultural convoys for children in order to educate them about the dangers of terrorism through puppet shows, fine arts workshops, murals and craft workshops.
- Inaugurating the “Start Your Dream” project, which aims at training young artists in cultural regions on the performing arts and to spread the system of positive values that repel extremism among young people through a cultural policy that reflects tolerance, citizenship, respect for religions, and respect for difference in opinion.
- Inauguration of the “Sanay’iat Misr” initiative, as part of the initiative of the President of the Republic; Egypt’s Governorates are targeted in two phases through the selection of environmental and heritage crafts that are trained according to the crafts map of all the Egyptian governorates. Training is given by a group of artists to develop crafts and build the capacities of craftsmen to teach specialized techniques. The project targets the youth, so that they can set up their small projects.
- The launch of the “People of Egypt” project (the cultural integration of children), which aims at enhancing the values of belonging to the Nation in the hearts of children in various Governorates through a number of cultural and artistic activities, whether visits, workshops or artistic performances.
- Children’s theatre shows, which aim at enriching the child’s linguistic knowledge, developing the child’s ability to express and gain educational and moral values, and enhancing self-confidence and other values of the child through several plays, including:
- The play (Blue Rose), which talks about tolerance and acceptance of the other.
- The play (Peace), which talks about renouncing violence and fighting extremism.
- A Puppet Show, which focuses on defending the Nation and identity.
- Launching the “Dandara Music and Song” Festival with the aim of reshaping awareness, improving public appreciation for art and achieving cultural justice. The festival exhibits purposeful arts to confront all forms of intolerance and extremism, to ensure that culture and arts are an important element in completing the human development process.
- In addition to the above, the Egyptian Orthodox Church plays an important role in preserving the cohesion of national unity and countering any attempts to undermine it. Moreover, civil institutions and relevant specialized national councils such as National Council for Women have an awareness-raising role. The latter, within the framework of the “knocking doors” campaign, outreaches to girls and women in various parts of Egypt in order to make them aware of the dangers of extremist ideas and to ingrain a sense of citizenship.
- The importance of National Unity was reaffirmed by the a symbolic gesture of the construction of the largest mosque and cathedral in Africa and the Middle East in the new administrative capital. This was also reflected in the participation of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in the elaboration of the “Human Fraternity” document that was signed between His Eminence the Grand Imam the, Sheikh of Al-Azhar and His holiness the Pope of the Vatican in February 2019 in Abu Dhabi. The document reflects Egypt’s contributions to history as cradle of civilizations and its faith in the values of moderation and respect for freedom of belief and citizenship and cultural diversity. Al-Azhar Observatory translated it in 12 different languages, which in turn contributes to instilling the values of tolerance, moderation, acceptance of the other and respect of the religious and cultural diversity of different societies.
- The Egyptian State and its political leadership attach great importance to youth, as they are the real wealth for the development of society and maintaining its cohesion. Moreover, the State is keen on listening to youth about the challenges they face and building their capacities and empowering them, thereby contributing to protecting them from the risks of falling victim to radicalization. In this context, His Excellency the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt inaugurated in 2016 “The National Youth Conference”, an unprecedented gathering to hold interactive and transparent dialogue between youth and the political leadership to discuss the current issues. In its 8th version held in Cairo on September 14, 2019, the National Youth Conference devoted one of its sessions to «assessing the experience of combating extremism locally and regionally». During the session, the development of terrorist threats facing the region and the world as a whole, new methods and ways of addressing those challenges were reviewed.
- The scope of this successful pioneer experience has also been expanded at the regional and international levels through launching the “Arab / African Youth Forum” hosted in Aswan (the African Youth Capital for 2019) in March of the same year within the context of Egypt’s then Chairmanship of the African Union. Furthermore, the “World Youth Forum” was launched in its third edition in December 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, under the auspices and in the presence of the President of the Republic. It was internationally acclaimed as a model to be followed and a unique platform for proposing ideas and initiatives to address the challenges facing the world, especially with regard to countering terrorism and extremist thought from the perspective of youth.
3. Security and law-enforcement measures:
3.1. Security strategy to counter terrorism:
- The Ministry of Interior implements a comprehensive security strategy based on the following axes:
- Monitoring, in coordination with relevant law enforcement agencies, terrorist organizations, revealing their organizational structures, identifying their members, leaders, plans, geographical scope, and the existing links between them.
- Undermining the capabilities of terrorist organizations by targeting them through legal measures to abort their hostile plans.
- Investigating the circumstances of terrorist incidents through (crime scene examination, tracing fugitive terrorists, uncovering their hiding places, raiding their dens, arms caches, and locations where explosive devices are manufactured).
- Combating, in coordination with the relevant law enforcement agencies, threats related to the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) by tightening control over entry points and detecting any attempts by terrorists to enter the country.
- Combating, in coordination with the relevant law enforcement agencies, infiltration operations across borders and confronting smuggling gangs to prevent attempts by terrorists to infiltrate the country, as well as countering smuggling of arms, ammunition and explosive materials and preventing their delivery to terrorists.
- Taking (legal oversight) measures to combat the unlawful possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives in order to reduce the capabilities of terrorists to commit terrorist acts.
- Implementing effective security measures to ensure protection of critical infrastructure and diplomatic missions, and places of worship, to prevent them from being targeted by terrorist acts.
- Intensifying campaigns on the criminal hideouts and outposts to arrest criminals that terrorist groups use in carrying out acts of violence in return for money, without being affiliated to them.
- Combating, in coordination with the relevant law enforcement agencies, money laundering and organized crime, as they are directly related to terrorist financing operations.
- Monitoring convicted terrorist leaders who fled abroad and coordinating with the relevant state agencies to arrest and deport them to Egypt in order to bring them to Court, based on extradition agreements or related international agreements.
- Monitoring inflammatory pages and websites of terrorist groups online to identify those responsible for managing them to bring them to the Public Prosecution in accordance with the law.
- Coordinating with the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to issue red notices for leaders, members and fugitive terrorists at the international level, as well as providing it with available information about terrorist organisations to include it in its database.
- The listing of the most significant terrorists who fled outside the country, who are convicted to be arrested and brought to court, on the international and regional terrorist designation lists, at the forefront of the latter is Security Council Resolution 1267/99 sanctions committee on “Al Qaeda and ISIS/Daesh” terrorists and the “blacklist of perpetrators, planners, and funders of terrorist operations” of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers. This aims at limiting their movements, freezing their assets and working to limit their capabilities in carrying out their terrorist plans directed domestically, in coordination with the relevant agencies.
- The implementation of the aforementioned strategy resulted in achieving many successes, especially in the field of undermining the activity of the so-called “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” organisation, and eliminating the so-called (“Ajnad Misr” organisation), as follows:
- The “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” organisation (ABM) is considered as one of the most significant terrorist groups that appeared on the internal scene of the country. Its members carried out a number of terrorist operations during the events of January 2011, (with the participation of some members who fled from prisons), which were carried out against some security headquarters and gas pipe lines in north Sinai. The aforementioned organisation halted its terrorist operations after the terrorist “MB” regime came to power in 2012, taking into consideration the unity of extremist ideological affiliations between the two terrorist groups, with the exception of their involvement in the first Rafah terrorist massacre that targeted the seizure of two armoured vehicles of the armed forces for use in carrying out a suicide attack in the Israeli depth.
- In the aftermath of the 30th of June Revolution, ABM intensified its terrorist operations with the aim of dismantling the Nation State institutions and placing the terrorist “MB” at the forefront of the political scene. They strived to disperse the efforts of the security services in pursuing members of terrorist organisations and adversely affecting the economic capabilities of the State. The members of the terrorist organization committed many terrorist operations, the most notable the attempt to assassinate the former Minister of the Interior; bombing the security directorates of “Cairo, Dakahlia Governorate and South Sinai”; targeting the satellite station in Maadi (Cairo); attacking a church in the Warraq area of Giza Governorate; assassinating a number of police and armed forces officers; and targeting some headquarters and vehicles of the Police and armed forces in some Governorates.
- The “Ajnad Misr” organisation is considered one of the splinter organisations of “ABM”, and it was founded in 2013 when its leaders were able to form many cluster cells that included newly recruited members and trained them on the methods of manufacturing explosive devices that were used in the execution of many terrorist incidents.
- The terrorist organization’s activities increased during the years 2013 and 2014 in an attempt to create chaos in the country following the popular overthrow of the terrorist “MB”. The terrorist organization operations mostly targeted the police, ambushes and security checkpoints by planting and detonating explosive devices using various methods. Most notable of these attacks was targeting the stationed forces In Al–Nahda Square securing Cairo University, targeting the designated forces to secure the Embassy of the Congo; detonating an explosive device in front of the High Court of Justice; detonating two explosive devices in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace; detonating an explosive device in the vicinity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which all led to the martyrdom and wounding of a number of policemen and citizens.
- The comprehensive security plan implemented by the Ministry of Interior to counter the activity of the two aforementioned organizations was based on dismantling their organizational structure, pursuing their fugitive members, and undermining their capabilities and human and logistical resources, through the following:
- Raiding the locations where the two organizations train their members on the use of weapons of all kinds and methods of preparing explosive devices to carry out terrorist acts.
- Identifying the terrorists in charge of operations related to the monitoring, recruitment of youth, harbouring fugitive terrorists, transporting weapons, providing logistical support, execution of terrorist attacks – and arresting a large number of them and initiating legal procedures against them.
- Directing numerous security strikes to the members of the two terrorist organizations at the level of the various Governorates of Egypt, which resulted in the arrest and killing of many of their members, the seizure of large quantities of arms and explosive materials, the detection of many of their dens (farms – apartments – stores), initiating legal procedures against the arrested members and bringing them to trial in many court cases, which resulted in strict sentences imposed against them.
3.2. Efforts to combat the terrorist “MB” activities:
- In the aftermath of the events of January 25th, the internal scene witnessed many changes that had repercussions on the security situation in the country. These circumstances were exploited by terrorist organizations with various affiliations and classifications to create chaos and the appropriate context for their destructive activities. These terrorist organizations also undertook an escalation of their activities in the aftermath of the 30th of June 2013 revolution in order to abort its acquis, the most significant of which was the confrontation of all manifestations of lawlessness and countering terrorism. These actions contravene with the extremist ideology of all terrorist organizations, foremost of which is the terrorist “MB” organization.
- Following the 30th of June revolution, the “MB” terrorist organization undertook progressively the stages of what is called “Al-hiraq Al Mosalah (the armed movement)”, which carried out terrorist operations in the country, taking many names including “Action Committees”, “Deterrence Committees”, “Revolutionary Punishment”, “Confusion Committees”, and ” Death Squad”…). The “MB” aimed through this at giving a false perception that these groups are not affiliated with it and to deny any relationship with the terrorist operations committed by their members during that period. These so-called “committees” carried out terrorists acts targeting the infrastructure by planting explosive devices in order to exhaust the State economically and to spread chaos.
- During the year 2016, the organization undertook the reformulation of its terrorist plans by linking armed entities inside Egypt with some fugitive “MB” leadership residing abroad and giving them new names: “Sawa’id Misr Movement (Hasm) and “Liwaa Al-Thawrah”organization. These two are the armed wing of the “MB” terrorist organization tasked with escalating terrorist operations. Their members were involved in many terrorist acts that targeted mostly police officers, the armed forces and judges, especially in the wake of the killing of the “MB” leader Muhammad Muhammad Kamal”. The latter was a member of the General Guidance Bureau and founder of the armed wing of the terrorist organization and its committees in Egypt. This was also in response to the security successes that led to the arrest of a large number of leaders and members of the terrorist organization and the occurrence of deep splits in its organizational structure.
- The security services succeeded in implementing a comprehensive strategy to abort the “MB” terrorist organization’s plans based on two main axes: Prevention, which aimed at aborting the terrorist plans of the organization by predicting terrorist threats and intensifying efforts to collect information and direct pre-emptive legally mandated security strikes against its members. The second is detecting terrorist operations and prosecuting the perpetrators involved in planning, storing weapons and manufacturing explosives, providing logistical and operational support, while taking the necessary legal measures towards them. Efforts to pursue members of the armed movement of the terrorist “MB” organization resulted in the following:
- Determining the circumstances of the incidents committed by the members of the armed wing, most notably attacking several police stations and departments, as well as public infrastructure and facilities; assassinating the former Public Prosecutor; attempting to assassinate the former Mufti of the Republic; assassination of a number of armed forces and police officers. This is in addition to the identification of the cell responsible of executing the bomb attack on the National Oncology Institute in Cairo. The perpetrators of the aforementioned terrorist acts were also identified and a large number of members responsible for planning, monitoring, providing logistical support and training were arrested, who had in their possession large quantities of arms and explosives. Legal measures were taken against them, while a number of them were killed during confrontations with law enforcement officials.
- Monitoring economic institutions that support the terrorist “MB” within the framework of the plan to dry out its sources of finance, whereby the committee concerned with freezing and managing the assets of terrorist organizations is provided with all the information on the financial support provided by some economic entities and establishments to take the necessary legal measures towards them.
- Security services have also succeeded in confronting the plans of the terrorist “MB”organization to activate the so-called “Al-Hiraq Elthawry (revolutionary movement)”, which aims at propagating rumours and fake news, whether among the various sectors of society in the country or abroad. It used to this end satellite channels affiliated with it and its various social media platforms with the aim of incitement to carry out terrorist acts, including assaulting citizens, establishments and public and private property, blocking roads, and disrupting public transportation. Many of the members in charge of implementation of the aforementioned plan were arrested and had legal procedures initiated against them.
- The security efforts also resulted in the unveiling of the plans of the terrorist “MB” to escalate its terrorist activity, as it was discovered that some of its fugitive leaders in Turkey – who is responsible for the administration of the armed wing of the “MB”terrorist organization – have opened channels of communication with the leaders of al-Qaeda organization in one of the African countries. This malicious cooperation between the two terrorist organizations aimed at drafting a document on the Shari’a based of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist operations. “MB” leaders circulated the aforementioned document among its members as a reference for escalating activities and operations of the armed wing of the “MB”. The following are some of the key points in the document:
- The necessity of armed confrontation with the existing regime and the legitimacy of spilling the blood of its officials represented in the armed forces, the police and judges who are linked to the terrorist “MB” members’ trials, as well as targeting critical infrastructure and vital installations in the country.
- Not prohibiting the killing of citizens whose presence coincides during the execution of terrorist operations committed by the “MB” members in order to achieve its goals of destroying the institutions of the Nation State.
- Relying on the deviant interpretation of some of the Qur’an verses and the noble “hadith” to sanction the abduction of family members, especially women and children, of officials in the armed forces, police and the judiciary. This aims at forming psychological pressure on them so as not to exercise their duty in combating the terrorist activity of the terrorist “MB”, as well as prohibiting joining the military service and calling for dissention from its ranks.
- In the same context, the security efforts succeeded in monitoring the attempts by the leadership of the terrorist “MB” to provide funds for the families of convicted terrorists and fugitives who have espoused Daesh/ISIS’s and AL-Qaeda’s terrorist ideology in an effort to recruit them to join the armed groups belonging to the terrorist “MB”.
- In addition to the above, the Egyptian State is:
- Intensifying security measures on all strategic directions and imposing full control of the border areas to prevent acts of infiltration, illegal immigration, and the smuggling of arms and ammunition into Egyptian territory.
- Securing the coasts, sea and air ports, and entry points using the latest technical means.
- Strengthening air-to-ground, technical, optical and airborne surveillance systems and activating security coordination procedures for exchanging information and positively confronting threats once they are discovered.
- Monitoring the online activity of terrorists and analysing information obtained to counter potential terrorist acts.
- Supporting various land entry points with modern technical equipment to detect contraband.
- Raising the efficiency of the various airports of the Republic and support them with modern technical devices and equipment to tighten security control, and secure passengers and baggage as necessary.
- Establishing a security fence around the city of Sharm El-Sheikh to tighten security control of its entrances and exits and protect it from smuggling, as well as securing tourist groups.
- Continuing to secure the navigational channel of the Suez Canal and the axis of the new Suez Canal in cooperation with the relevant security services, as well as tightening and intensifying inspection procedures on ferryboats, the Peace Bridge and thoroughfares including the tunnels, to impose security control and deny terrorist individuals the capacity to implement their plans.
- Permanent coordination with the relevant security directorates to monitor the security stability situation and secure critical infrastructure and vital facilities.
- Expanding the implementation of awareness-raising meetings about the dangers and threats facing Egyptian national security in light of the deteriorating regional situation and the situation in neighbouring countries.
- Intensifying regular security meetings at various levels to provide accurate and timely information on the potential orientations of terrorists, discussing and exchanging new information on topics related to combating terrorism to formulate a unified national vision in this regard.
- Coordinating with the security services of friendly and cooperating countries to take advantage of the capabilities of those countries in combating terrorism and intensify the holding of conferences between the two sides to exchange information on terrorists, their locations and movements in various strategic directions.
- On the other hand, the efforts of law enforcement forces to combat terrorism in Sinai succeeded in tightening security control there, which led to limited execution of terrorist operations during the recent period compared to previous years, with the stability of the living conditions of the people of North Sinai. The law enforcement forces managed to eliminate the infrastructure of the “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” terrorist organization located in a very limited area in North Sinai, while continuing to pursue the remnants of “ABM” members, which are local terrorists with no organizational, operational or financial ties, or in any way to what is called the Daesh/ISIS or any of the other terrorist organization outside Egypt.
- It is worth noting in this context that Daesh/ISIS does not have a presence in Egypt. The allegations that “Ansar Beit al-Maqdis” organization is affiliated with ISIS have no basis, and are based on false information promoted by terrorist organizations themselves, in contravention of the reality on the ground. Any pledge of allegiance to Daesh/ISIS-Core is a propaganda stunt by the ABM terrorist group in pursuit of self-glorification and promotion following the severe losses and defeat it has faced and the cut off all means of supply, due to effective law enforcements measures. Furthermore, none of the conditions indicating the affiliation of an individual, group, organization, entity, to Daesh/ISIS, or Al-Qaeda contained in operative paragraph No. 2 of Security Council Resolution 2368, is applicable to terrorists belonging to ABM in North Sinai.
- The experience over the past decades shows that any terrorist group when its organizational structure and sources of strength and funding are weakened, it resorts to claiming allegiances and adopting goals and slogans that exceed its local fields, and attributes itself to other major external terrorist groups without any links in reality between both of them, and no change in its capacities, structures or field positions. ABM has not and does not receive any reinforcements or benefits from Deash/ISIS Core, either in terms of terrorists or financing, which would have been noted by the Egyptian authorities. Moreover, there has never been any proof of any executive/subordination relationship between both groups.
- Another of the security challenges facing law enforcement forces in North Sinai is the infiltration of some terrorists in the residential areas of the inhabitants of Sinai, which impedes procedures for targeting them. This is in light of the law enforcement forces’ concern for the lives of innocent citizens in Sinai, and their commitment to the requirements of the rule of law and human rights during counter-terrorism operations.
- It should be noted here that some of the terrorists affiliated with the “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” terrorist organization do so out of their personal conviction of some extremist ideas and are no way associated with any honourable Sinai Bedouin tribes. Furthermore, “ABM” is ideologically linked to the terrorist “MB” organization, as it is the main ideological source of all terrorist groups.
- On another note, the State also undertakes development activities in parallel with the security measures in the context of Egypt’s comprehensive approach to countering terrorism. Law enforcement forces secure public facilities and citizens and provide the financial support, as well as necessary assistance to the inhabitants of North Sinai, while supporting the State’s efforts to supervise the implementation of development projects in various regions in Sinai (see Chapter II – Section on measures in the economic sphere) to improve the socio- economic and living conditions of the inhabitants of Sinai in addition to providing them job opportunities.
4. Combating the financing of terrorism and money laundering:
- Egypt criminalizes the financing of terrorism in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 94 of 2015, which addresses the definition of terrorist crime and terrorist acts. It is defined as every use of force, violence, threat, or intimidation inside and outside Egypt, with the aim of disturbing public order or endangering community safety, interests, or putting their security at risk, harming individuals, or spreading terror among them, endangering their lives or freedoms, their public or private rights, or their security at risk, or other freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Constitution and law, or harming national unity, social peace, or national security, or damaging the environment, natural resources, antiquities, money, buildings, or public or private property, occupying or seizing them, or preventing or hindering public authorities, entities, judicial authorities, Government interests, local units, places of worship, or hospitals or institutions and institutes of science, diplomatic and consular missions, or regional and international organizations and bodies in Egypt.
- Article 3 of the same law stipulates the definition of terrorist financing to mean “the collection or receipt, with the intention of using it in whole or in part to commit any terrorist crime or knowing that it will be used for that purpose or by providing a safe haven for one or more terrorists or whoever funds it in any of the above mentioned means”. Consequently, the text of the article confirms clearly that the financing of terrorism is a crime once there is an intention for its use in committing the terrorist act or simply knowing that it will be used in the terrorist act whether it occurs or not.
- Moreover, according to this article, criminalization of terrorism exists if a safe haven is offered to a terrorist and there is no requirement for the terrorist act itself, “and this comes in line with international conventions regarding combating terrorist financing to which Egypt is Party to.
- The Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combatting Unit (EMLCU) was established by Law No. 80 of 2002 and in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 164 of 2002. The Unit is an independent central administrative authority that receives notifications and information on any of the transactions suspected of being the proceeds or includes money laundering or terrorist financing, or attempts to carry out these transactions from financial institutions and other reporting bodies. The Unit examines and analyses this information and directs the results of its analysis to law enforcement agencies and the competent investigation authorities. The Unit is considered a focal point between the reporting authorities and law enforcement agencies, which is the approach used in most financial investigation Units in the world.
- Terrorist groups use several methods to finance their criminal works and activities. Terrorist groups take advantage of alternative remittance systems, bank transfers, non-profit organizations and charities to defraud financial systems.
- In view of these growing risks, Egypt has developed laws and regulations to suppress the financing of terrorism to ensure that non-profit or charitable organisations are not abused. The Unit cooperated with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and other national institutions in issuing Law No. 149 of 2019 on regulating the exercise of civil work, which included the requirement that non-profit organizations clarify their identify, the scope of civil society work and the means to fund it. The aforementioned law has stipulated means of providing financial support for the continuity of activities carried out by NGOs and associations and federations established in accordance with the provisions of this law, while ensuring that their activities are not obstructed to check that they are not being exploited for suspicious activities. It also stipulates that there should be notification if such suspicious activity takes place.
- In view of the great potential that technology offers for development, which Egypt is keen on using to support financial technology and financial inclusion, the Unit has paid close attention to technological developments that terrorist groups may exploit as a means of financing their operations. Emerging technology includes online payment services, payment by mobile phone and prepaid cards, as well as virtual currencies, especially those that allow anonymity of their customers, as well as crowdfunding platforms.
- The Unit, in cooperation with the Central Bank of Egypt, issued a warning to the public about the risks of virtual currencies, and cooperates closely with law enforcement agencies in order to keep pace with these developments by holding several joint training courses. This includes conducting training on investigations through open sources, since the use of the latter to investigate issues of money laundering and terrorist financing is one of the main counter measures, in particular the investigation of transactions using virtual currencies, especially the Bitcoin.
- In addition to the above, Egypt has, through cooperation between the Central Bank of Egypt and the Unit, issued regulatory controls to address online payments, as well as the issuance of customer identification regulations for prepaid cards, for payments via mobile phones, and for identifying customers ’private identity. This is in compliance with the Egyptian Anti-Money Laundering Law in order to reduce operational and transaction risks. It also obligated the institutions concerned to provide these services based upon effective and reliable means to establish the identity of customers who use payment services. Thus, Egypt can avoid potential risks posed by technological developments in the context of curbing terrorist financing.
- On the other hand, the private sector plays a significant role in limiting the operations of money laundering and terrorist financing through the financial system. This is due to the Private sector’s role as the first line of defence in the detection and reduction of these activities, especially through its application of the system of customer due diligence and measures to maintain records and report suspicious transactions, as well as other requirements.
- While forming the Unit’s Board of trustees, it was decided to include a representative from the Federation of Banks when it considers rules or regulations related to the field of combating money laundering or terrorist financing. Consequently, any obstacles that may face the notifying sector can be overcome. This decision was based on the importance of the role the private sector plays in strengthening systems to combat the financing of terrorism, and in order to benefit from what it offers in the field of combating financial crime in general and terrorist financing in particular. This is taking into consideration that the banking sector is one of the largest and most important financial sectors in Egypt.
- In the same context, the Unit is involved in the membership of the various committees of the Federation of Egyptian Banks to identify the obstacles that hinder banks’ work in the application of these rules. The Unit also conducts dialogue sessions with compliance officials in various financial institutions such as banks, brokerage firms in securities, insurance, and others, with the aim of understanding the challenges during practical application and ways to solve them. To complement these efforts, the Unit holds further dialogue sessions with the supervisory authorities of financial institutions such as the Central Bank of Egypt and the Financial Supervisory Authority to identify the extent to which financial institutions comply with the regulatory rules and the extent of challenges in implementation with a view to obtaining an integrated view in the implementation of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing systems.
- Moreover, the Unit receives periodic reports from those institutions on their efforts to implement the requirements of combating money laundering and terrorist financing and the systems used, including the application of terrorist designation lists at the local and international levels. The Unit also prepares detailed lists of terrorist individuals and entities in accordance with Law No. 8 (2015) regulating lists and entities, and shares them with the notifying bodies to ensure proper application of those lists.
- In order to enhance efforts, an electronic system “goAML” has been implemented to receive notifications from banks and other reporting bodies, giving the Unit greater capacity to examine notifications of suspicious transaction, while ensuring security of information and prompt notification of suspected financial transactions. This serves to improve the system for combating money laundering and terrorist financing in Egypt.
- Given the importance of compliance with Security Council resolutions related to the financing of terrorism, Egypt has put in place mechanisms to implement these resolutions in particular UNSCR 1267 and 1373 and subsequent resolutions related to them. Those mechanisms have set the legislative basis for their implementation, the procedures for designating terrorist entities and terrorists, the procedures for freezing and managing related funds, procedures for lifting or modifying the scope of the asset-freeze on the sanctions lists, and the procedures for proposing names for designation.
- In light of this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Unit, set up a mechanism to implement Security Council resolutions related to combating the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Ministry provides the Unit with the lists of sanctions and any updates from the Security Council, which in turn publishes them on its website and circulates to the relevant authorities.
- The measures taken by Egypt to implement its obligations in accordance with international standards related to combating the financing of terrorism have been evaluated as sufficient and reliable with the frameworks of international organizations. This was reflected in the results of the anti-terrorist financing questionnaire that countries have submitted to the FATF regarding their efforts to combat the financing of terrorism. Egypt’s results were positive and indicate clearly that it meets the international standards in that regard. Moreover, the CTED’s (the technical arm of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee) evaluation report also praised the effectiveness of the role of the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combatting Unit (the Financial Investigation Unit) at the local and international levels. This is taking into consideration that the anti-Money Laundering Law stipulates in the article 21 the role of the Unit in implementing Security Council resolutions, including that the Unit should take the necessary measures to meet Egypt’s obligations in accordance with international agreements, treaties and covenants related to terrorist financing and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is in addition to the measures the Unit is taking to implement Security Council resolutions, including sending circulars to the financial institutions and supervisory authorities to meet their obligations.
- Realizing the importance of coordination between the Unit and the relevant authorities in applying the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 63 of 2005 to establish a national coordinating committee in the field of combating money laundering. This committee set up a mechanism for implementing Security Council resolutions related to combating the financing of terrorism, in particular UNSCR 1267 and 1373 and subsequent resolutions related to them, as well as regulations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing that financial institutions adhere to. These regulations include instructions related to opening accounts and performing transactions, whether for natural or legal persons, and include some guiding standards to assist financial institutions in reaching suspicion of terrorist financing divided according to each category of financial services and products.
- With regard to international cooperation in combatting the financing of terrorism, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has made some recommendations to enhance international information exchange. Recommendation 40 of the FATF recommendations states that countries should ensure that their competent authorities engage in extensive international cooperation in a rapid, constructive and effective manner related to money laundering, and its associated crimes, as well as terrorist financing.
- The Unit exchanges information with the counterpart Units through its membership in the EGMONT Group, to which it joined in 2004. This group includes in its membership financial investigation Units worldwide, and the information is exchanged between the Egyptian Unit and counterpart Units through the EGMONT secure website “ESW”. It is one of the most important goals of this group to promote the exchange of information related to money laundering, related crimes and terrorist financing crimes. On the other hand, the Egmont Group encourages the exchange of information between the financial investigation Units, regarding best practices of each of the member Units.
- Moreover, based on Article 3 “Item 11” of the executive regulations of the Anti-Money Laundering Law on the exchange of information with foreign counterparts and international organizations related to combating money laundering and terrorist financing, the AML Board of Trustees has adopted rules for exchanging information with foreign counterpart Units. The Unit’s executive director, or whoever is authorized by him, may exchange information with counterpart Units, whether EGMONT member Units, non-members who have signed memoranda of understanding, and Units that did not sign memoranda of understanding. Exchanges are carried out according to the principle of “reciprocity” for each individual case, after the approval of the Executive director.
- Furthermore, the EMLCU’s Board of Trustees has a system for exchanging information with counterparts. It is worth noting that the Unit has signed a memorandum of understanding with Twenty-eight counterpart Units in order to facilitate the exchange of information.
- Egypt is also playing an active role in the MENAFATF (Middle East and North Africa) Financial Action Task Force to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, which it co-founded in 2004. Egypt actively participates actively in the group’s activities and constructively contributes to the preparation of studies issued by the group. Egypt also currently holds the position of Chairman of MENAFATF, in addition to its continued co-chairing of the Mutual Evaluation Working Group represented by the Egyptian Unit’s deputy executive director, (Egypt has chaired this group since its establishment).
- Through the Unit, Egypt also provides assistance to some Arab and African countries to support them in meeting their obligations related to international standards, especially the commitments made within the framework of the FATF, in the spirit of increasing international cooperation and bilateral technical assistance. Egypt also seeks to take advantage of the technical assistance provided by some countries and international organizations with the aim of strengthening its own counter-terrorist financing system and overcoming the challenges that the relevant authorities may face in order to effectively implement their obligations.
5. Measures in the economic and social fields:
- Egypt has long stressed that confronting the current challenges to international peace and security, particularly terrorism, can be achieved only by addressing the underlying conditions and by preventing terrorist organizations from exploiting these conditions to propagate their extremist thought. This is in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and the first pillar of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
- While evaluating Egypt’s experience since the people’s Revolution in June 30th 2013, the challenges and conditions that have shaped the context from which this experience has stemmed from should be taken into consideration and their impact on the working environment. Achievements are measured according to the magnitude of the challenge. In this context, Egypt has undergone major political, economic, social and security changes, which were coupled with challenges in the economic, external trade, monetary and fiscal sectors.
- These challenges have resulted in a significant decline in the Egyptian economy and in its macro-economic indicators. Growth rates shrank to the lowest level in 2012/2013 reaching 2.2%, which is much lower than the rate of population growth. Real development requires sustainability of the economic growth indicators that needs to surpass at least twice the demographic rate. In parallel with the economic decline, Egypt witnessed a remarkable increase in the unemployment rate, especially among youth and women. Moreover, regional and global political and economic developments, and events, which occurred over the recent years in the Arab world and Egypt’s immediate neighborhood, increased the complexity of the situation. This is in addition to a number of Governments, which targeted Egypt’s national security through sponsoring and financing terrorist groups’ activities, particularly the “Muslim Brotherhood” terrorist organization and its affiliated terrorist groups and by providing their members with support and safe havens. Furthermore, the status-quo of the global economy, in the context of the trade war between the world superpowers had its consequences on economic growth, global prosperity and international trades, and the impact was felt hardest in developing countries, including Egypt.
- In the framework of Egypt’s comprehensive approach to counter terrorism and extremist ideology, Egypt believes sustainable development and economic and social prosperity contribute to the creation of an environment resilient to terrorism and extremism, and to the eradication of their root causes. Therefore, the Government has taken – and continues to take – significant measures to promote economic growth and improve its indicators in all financial, banking, investment, and industrial aspects, upgrading the infrastructure and supporting digital transformation projects. Parallel initiatives for improving social conditions were rolled out targeting the health and education sectors, as well as women and youth empowerment. This is in addition to launching awareness raising campaigns on development activities and countering rumours and misleading fake news propagated by terrorist groups. All the aforementioned issues are priority areas of action for the Government.
- In order to address the difficult economic and social situation, the Egyptian State intensified its efforts, based on comprehensive planning and an ambitious vision for the future. The “Sustainable Development Strategy: Egypt Vision 2030” was launched in February 2016 as the national version of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and as the general framework organizing work plans and programmes for the coming years. The Government was keen that the process of preparation, drafting, implementation and updating this vision is based on a participatory approach that includes alongside the government, the private sector, civil society and all partners. Moreover, special attention was given to the role of youth and women in achieving development.
- Egypt has also paid great attention to localization of sustainable development goals in the Egyptian Governorates in order to maximize the benefit from the comparative advantages of the governorates, and to achieve the principle of “inclusive and sustainable growth and balanced regional development”, which is one of the main pillars of Egypt’s vision 2030. In cooperation with the United Nations, the Government implemented the project titled “popularizing, accelerating and supporting policies to implement the goals of the 2030 Agenda (MAPS)” to propagate the concept of sustainable development in the Governorates, and to integrate sustainable development goals into their local investment plans.
- In this context, Egypt’s “National programme for economic and social reform”, which began in November 2016, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund was successful as attested by major economic institutions and international organizations. In the framework of this programme, the Egyptian State implemented many reforms to achieve total stability, comprehensive and sustainable growth, restructuring some sectors (particularly the energy sector), regulating fiscal and monetary policies, liberalizing the exchange rate and improving the investment climate. This aimed at increasing competitiveness, restoring investor confidence in the Egyptian economy, and stimulating economic growth led by the private sector as a major partner for the government in achieving development.
- Taking into consideration that informal settlements can sometimes provide an environment conducive to terrorism, the State implemented an ambitious programme titled “Developing Informal Settlements” whereby 53 unsafe areas were developed and 30 thousand housing units were established, and eliminating any sources of danger in them. The number of beneficiaries from the activities of this programme reached 358 thousand citizens in the Governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, the Red Sea, Port Said and South Sinai at a total cost of around 3.5 billion Egyptian pounds (L.E.) during the 2018-2019 financial year. In this regard, the State has implemented 62 thousand sewage connections in 236 villages, benefiting 766 thousand citizens, with investments amounted to 259 million L.E., as well as the development of 1130 random markets in the governorates of Cairo, Sharqiya, and the New Valley.
- In the same context, the Government has sought in recent years to develop the infrastructure and improve its quality in partnership with the private sector, which attracts investors, and at the same time contributes to improving the quality of life of citizens, the latter being a high priority of the Egyptian State. In this framework, the State pumped during the past five years investments amounting to 940 billion L.E. in the field of infrastructure, resulting in a surge of mega projects, the most important of which are:
- National Road Network projects, which contributed to Egypt leaping 90 places in the global ranking of the road quality sub-index in the Global Competitiveness Report (Egypt ranked 28 globally in 2019 compared to 118th in 2014).
- Energy sector projects, with expansion in the field of new and renewable energy, in partnership with the private sector. The largest solar power plant in the world was established in the “Banban” area of Aswan Governorate, which won in the beginning of the year the annual award of the World Bank for its most outstanding projects worldwide.
- The Suez Canal axis development projects.
- Establishing industrial zones, and expanding the construction of new cities with the establishment of 14 “fourth generation/smart” cities, including Egypt’s new administrative capital with the aim of reducing pressure on infrastructure and services in existing cities.
- These investments achieved more than one goal, including stimulating economic growth (every 10% increase in public investment results in economic growth of 1%) and contributes to job creation (every billion L.E. investment provides a thousand jobs). All the abovementioned reflects positively on the quality of life of citizens and improves their standard of living. While planning for these investments, the State gives priority to the areas most in need and to address the development gaps between the Egyptian Governorates and regions. It links the priorities of the geographical distribution of public and private investments to favour the Governorates most in need.
- Within the framework of reaping the fruits of these investments, just the year 2018-2019 witnessed the implementation of 6,200 development and national projects, at a total investment cost of 490 billion L.E. in 22 sectors across all Governorates of the Republic. In the framework of the political leadership’s keenness to improve human and social development services, 606 projects in the education and health sectors were implemented, as well as the completion of 601 development and service projects in border governorates, in addition to 1984 projects in Upper Egypt Governorates. All of these efforts reinforce the concept of inclusion and that citizens enjoy the targeted development benefits of all these projects.
- In the same context, the sector of medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) receives priority and special attention from the Egyptian Government for its important role in creating decent and productive job opportunities, especially for women and youth. MSMEs moreover help achieving high added value and spatial development and contributing to the concept of “inclusive and sustainable growth and balanced regional development”, which is one of the main concepts and targets of Egypt’s vision 2030. Egypt’s efforts to encourage and develop the sector of MSMEs complement measures to stimulate the integration of the informal sector in the formal sector, which is among the most important tools the Government relies on to sustain the progressive economic growth in the recent years. The MSMEs sector moreover creates decent and productive job opportunities, due to its ability to absorb the unemployed, increase incomes and innovation, as well as channelling domestic savings into the economic development process.
- That is why the government has taken in the last years a number of robust measures to encourage this sector. These measures have been characterized by covering various aspects that support the working environment of these projects; whether the funding or legislative dimensions. The Government sought to complete the procedures for promulgating the relevant law on the development of MSMEs, as well the institutional framework needed through establishing a single Government agency responsible for this sector (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority). The Government also provides non-financial and entrepreneurship services; such as marketing, logistical and technological services and also providing capacity building and training. Moreover, steps were taken to link the role of the “Authority for the development of small and medium enterprises to the other existing initiatives supporting this sector (entrepreneurship initiatives and incubators in universities and youth centres). At the forefront of these initiatives is the “Rowad (pioneers) 2030” project, which seeks to take advantage of the creative energies of youth and employ them to ensure economic growth based on innovation and creativity through the provision of scholarships and the establishment of a number of business incubators in Egyptian public universities. The initiative aims at creating a new generation of entrepreneurs who are able to employ their knowledge in creating projects that meet local needs. It has trained 3460 individuals until the end of 2019.
- The State also encourages all programmes and initiatives that support the efforts of developing the small and medium enterprises sector by expanding the establishment of industrial clusters (highly labour-intensive) such as Damietta Furniture City, the Rubeiky City for Leather and the Mergham Plastic Industry Zone. In this context, the Government has prepared 4,500 attached industrial units, including 750 industrial units in the Tenth of Ramadan, Merghem, and the Red Sea zones.
- On the other hand, the Egyptian State recognizes the importance of achieving administrative reform as a necessity to raise the efficiency of institutions and create an environment conducive for business as one of the main components for achieving comprehensive and sustainable development and enhancing transparency and the rule of law.
- The training and capacity building axis represents one of the main pillars of the State’s plan to achieve administrative reform, and this comes in the context of a broader and more comprehensive approach to expand investment in people and building the leadership capacities of youth. Indeed, the Egyptian Government fully realizes that the human component is the key in any effort to administrative reform, taking into consideration that Egyptian society is young with more than 65% of the population under the age of 30. This project moreover contributes to achieving the strategic goal set by the Government under the guidance of the political leadership, which is developing the Egyptian citizen in a holistic manner, focusing on the educational, health, cultural and sports dimensions. The latter goal is at the forefront of the State’s priorities, and at the heart of its vision to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development. This was reflected in the number of training programmes in the context of administrative reform, which have reached 24 thousand trainees in many specialized programmes and at various levels, whether leadership, middle or executive management, with special attention to programmes for youth, and building the capacities of female leaders.
- In parallel with the above, the State takes a serious approach with full support from the political leadership towards converting into a digital society through encouraging the use of electronic payment methods and reducing cash-based transactions. This is with the view of countering corruption, achieving financial inclusion, increasing the efficiency of monetary and financial policies and facilitating financial settlements. It also contributes to creating an environment conducive for competition, investment and the creation of decent and productive jobs.
- After all these efforts made in recent years, the government had to review the results achieved, to ensure that it was on the right track. The results of the serious reforms implemented have been praised by international institutions, which have highlighted that Egypt has already begun a stage of reaping the fruits of reform. This gives the State an additional incentive to continue working in the future to complete these achievements, as it is a strategic goal aimed at improving the quality of life of citizens and countering the attempts of terrorist groups to radicalize them.
- The culmination of the security and stability in Egypt resulted in the year of 2018/19 in a remarkable increase in tourism revenues to reach about 12.6 billion dollars, compared to about 5.1 billion dollars in 2013/14 (an increase of about 147%).
- With these positive indicators, the State was keen at the same time to mitigate the effects of the reform measures on the lower-income groups, believing that social development must accompany economic progress. The Government – in parallel with efforts to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development and the implementation of the national programme for economic and social reform – implemented the largest social protection package in Egypt’s history, which included the following:
- Increasing direct cash transfers, including through the expansion of the “Takaful and Karama” programme (these transfers increased by about 4.4 billion L.E. between 2016/17 and 2018/19, amounting to a total of 17.4 billion L.E. in the last year).
- Increasing subsidies and grants in the health sector (8.9 billion L.E. in 2018/19, compared to 5.8 billion L.E. in 2016/17, with an increase of about 53.4%). The health sector is currently receiving a lot of attention, which culminated with the start of the implementation of the comprehensive health insurance law and H.E. the President of the Republic’s initiative to end hospital waiting lists and expand treatment for Hepatitus “Virus C” (the initiative of 100 million healthy individuals). Egypt seeks to share the benefit of this initiative with its African brethren in cooperation with the World Health Organization, and within the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063.
- Increasing food subsidy allocations (from 47.5 billion L.E. in 2016/2017 to about 87 billion L.E. in 2018-2019, an increase of about 83.2% during the same period).
- Increasing spending on education and health.
- Expansion of social housing projects for youth and low-income people.
- Continuing efforts to implement the “initiative for a decent life”. The first quarter of the year 2019/2020 witnessed the expenditure of about 694 million L.E. amounting to 15% of the total investment credits directed to the initiative (4.7 billion L.E. this year).
The State made huge investments during the period from 2014 to 2019, the last of which was in the budget for the fiscal year 2019/2020, as part of the measures to achieve integrated development of the Sinai Peninsula. The following is a list of the most prominent projects implemented:
In the field of housing:
The total number of completed / on-going housing units in the Sinai Peninsula so far is about 90 thousand housing units that accommodate around 450 thousand inhabitants, as follows:
- Social housing with a total of about 16631 units:
- 6278 housing units in North Sinai Governorate.
- 10092 housing units in South Sinai Governorate.
- 261 in the area of Ismailia Governorate.
- In the city of New “Rafah”, with a total number of 10416 housing units.
- The city of “Salam” with a total of 4340 social housing units and 1,300 acres of the tourist area with a total number of 4889 units, in addition to future expansions with the establishment of the industrial city, the medical city, the “Bardawil” city and the new city of “Bir al-Abd”.
- The New Ismailia city, with a total number of 52,642 housing units.
- Establishing 18 developmental communities (agricultural / residential), distributed as follows: 7 in the South Sinai governorate and 11 in North Sinai.
- Establishing an integrated complex for fishermen in North Sinai Governorate.
- Establishing “Al-Joufah” model village in central Sinai (100 furnished housing units/ a health unit / a youth centre / a water well / a school / a 20-acre farm).
Water and sanitation projects:
- Establishment of 12 seawater desalination plants:
- 5 stations in South Sinai Governorate (Ras Sidr – Abuznimah – Al-Tor – Dahab – Nuweiba), with a total capacity of 110 thousand cubic meters/day.
- 7 stations in North Sinai, with a total capacity of 480 thousand cubic meters/ day, as follows:
- 5 stations in Al-Arish – Rafah – Al-Sheikh Zweyed area, with a total capacity of 30 thousand cubic meters/day.
- A station in East Port Said, with a capacity of 150 thousand cubic meters/day.
- A giant station west of Al-Arish, with a capacity of 100-300 thousand cubic meters/day.
- A construction plan for 4 stations, with a total capacity of 56 thousand cubic meters/day (Sharm El-Sheikh – Nabq – Taba – Abu Rdis).
- Replacement and renewal of the entire piping network of Al-Arish city, with a total length of 690 km.
- Establishment of a sewage treatment plant and lifting stations for the new Ismailia city, east of the canal, with a capacity of 60 thousand cubic meters/day, expandable to 120 thousand cubic meters/day.
- The construction of the “Sarabium” siphon and a three-phase water drainage treatment facility in Al-Mahsama, with a capacity of one million cubic meters/day.
- Sanitation project in El-Tor city in South Sinai and Bir El-Abd city in North Sinai.
- A three-phase water drainage treatment facility for Bahr El-Baqr is currently under construction, with a capacity of 5.6 million cubic meters/day for use in agriculture in the Sinai.
- Basic education (General / Azhari):
- Establishment of 64 schools (39 in North Sinai / 25 in South Sinai).
- Establishment of 9 educational departments (5 in North Sinai / 4 in South Sinai).
- Establishment of 38 Azhari institutes (7 institutes in North Sinai / 3 institutes in South Sinai/ One institute in Ismailia) + 12 accommodations (9 in North Sinai / 3 in South Sinai).
- Refurbishing and developing 85 schools (51 in North Sinai / 34 in South Sinai).
- Supporting schools for students with special needs.
- Higher education (university):
- The establishment of Al-Areesh University, and work is still underway to complete the rest of the university’s construction, which started in the academic year 2016/2017 as follows:
- 9 Faculties (Education, Agricultural Sciences, Physical Education for boys and girls / Sciences / Arts / Aquaculture and Marine Fisheries / Home Economics / Commerce / Institute of Environmental Studies) and 85% of the constructions has been realised to date.
- The faculties of medicine and veterinary medicine are being established, and the commencement of their studies is scheduled for the academic year 2020/21.
- Establishing the King Salman University in South Sinai. The university’s construction is being completed as follows:
- A number of 6 colleges (Engineering / Water Sciences and Oceanography/ Technological Industries / Pharmacy / Medicine / Nursing) in addition to the Campus administrative building / Student hostel / Auxiliary buildings / Stadiums in Tor Sinai are being constructed.
- A total of 2 faculties (Alsun “languages” and Applied Languages/ Tourism and Hotels) are under construction and student hostel in Sharm El-Sheikh.
- A number of 3 faculties (financial and administrative sciences / special agriculture/ architecture) and student hostel are under construction in Ras Sidr.
- The University is expected to become operational in the academic year 2020/21.
- The establishment of Al-Areesh University, and work is still underway to complete the rest of the university’s construction, which started in the academic year 2016/2017 as follows:
Roads and Tunnels:
- A number of 5 tunnels were constructed under the Suez Canal to connect the Sinai to the Canal cities, including 2 tunnels south of Port Said Governorate, 2 tunnels north of Ismailia Governorate, and 1 tunnel in the South Sinai (Tunnel of the Martyr Ahmed Hamdi “2”).
- Constructing a metal bridge on the New Suez Canal and raising the efficiency of the existing bridge over the old Suez Canal in Al-Fardan.
- The total number of roads constructed / developed in the Sinai Peninsula is 22 roads with a length of about 2400 km. The most significant road projects are as follows:
- Developing a bypass road “1” (Port Said – Ras Sidr) with a length of about 130 km.
- Developing the Tunnel – Sharm El-Sheikh road, with a length of about 334 km.
- Developing the Ismailia – Al-Auja road with a length of 211 km.
- Developing the Tunnel – Taba road with a length of 217 km.
Youth and Sports:
- Developing 55 youth centres (35 in North Sinai / 20 in South Sinai).
- Establishing 48 pentagonal pitches (27 in the North Sinai / 21 in South Sinai).
- Establishing youth city in Sharm El-Sheikh + 2 youth camps.
- Establishing the covered hall and the Sports Development Centre in Sharm El-Sheikh.
- Establishing the covered hall in Areesh.
- Establishing 3 central hospitals in North Sinai (Nakhl / Bir Al-Abd / Rafah) and inaugurating the Nakhl and Bir Al-Abd Central hospitals + establishing a strategic medicine storage in North Sinai Governorate.
- Establishing 34 health units and developing 14 health units in North and South Sinai Governorates.
- Refurbishing and developing 9 hospitals in the Sinai Peninsula (Al-Arish / Sheikh Zuweid Sharm El-Sheikh / St. Catherine / Taba / Abu Redis / Al-Tur / Port Fouad / Al-Qantara Sharq).
- Refurbishing and developing 41 ambulance points in North and South Sinai Governorates.
- Signing a protocol with universities (Cairo/ Zagazig / Mansoura / Al-Azhar) to sign medical examinations and conduct major surgical operations through professors and assistant professors in all disciplines to improve medical services in Al-Areesh / Bir Al-Abed / Nakhal hospitals.
Establishing industrial zones:
- 4 industrial zones were established as follows:
- Bir Al-Abd industrial area, about 50% of its facilities have been completed.
- The industrial zone in Qantara East, about 50% of its facilities have been completed.
- The industrial zone of “heavy industries” in central Sinai whose facilities have yet to be completed۔
- Abu Zenimah industrial zone, whose facilities have yet to be completed.
Agricultural projects and land reclamation:
- An area of about 55 thousand acres were reclaimed and measures were taken to allocate it to citizens through public auctions, providing about 165 thousand direct/indirect job opportunities.
- An area of about 166 thousand acres is currently being considered for reclamation for the North Sinai Development Project.
In the field of services and industrial projects:
- The establishment of Bardawil International Airport in the “Malayez” area of Sinai. Moreover, the Al-Areesh International Airport is undergoing refurbishment and development.
- Upgrading Al-Areesh Cement Factory (second stage) by constructing the third and fourth production lines.
- Establishing the wholesale market in Al-Areesh (exhibitions for vegetables / fruits/ poultry, fish/ meat/ cheese). In addition to constructing an administrative building.
- Establishing a marble production complex in Gifgafah in Central Sinai, containing 4 marble production lines, with a production capacity of 3 million square meters annually.
- Establishing 26 fuel stations to serve all roads in the Sinai – establishing sales complexes for food and household goods – carpet and hand-woven textiles workshops, grain mills – an olive oil press – the establishment of the Sharm El-Sheikh Museum.
- Development of the East Port Said area (the sea port “piers and exchange yards”) / the industrial zone / Aquaculture ponds/ and the wild-fishing lake).
- Distributing 164,000 seedlings to small farmers.
- The following are the development goals of the Sinai Peninsula in the fiscal year plan (2020/21); Investments have been allocated to the Sinai Peninsula for the following projects:
- Completion of the police premises’ constructions.
- Completion of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz University’s constructions.
- Executing the North Sinai electric works project (linking the area to the national grid with a voltage capacity of 500 kV).
- Completion of the construction of New Rafah city.
- Refurbishing and developing the archaeological and regional museums.
- Completion of the flood protection works.
- Establishing 15 agricultural clusters in North and South Sinai.
- Completing the establishment of 9 development clusters in South Sinai.
- Completion of the construction of the public irrigation network to serve an area of 141.9 thousand acres.
- Establishing a seawater desalination plant in Al-Areesh (capacity of 100 thousand m3/ day, which can be increased to 300 thousand m3/day).
- The Egyptian State has also achieved many successes in the field of empowering women politically, economically and socially in the past few years. This includes among other things the Egyptian State’s keenness to integrate the concepts of gender equality and women’s empowerment in educational curricula in different stages in order to eliminate negative practices and customs and to promote the culture of women’s empowerment.
- In connection with efforts at the social level, and to support civil society and NGOs implementing programmes promoting citizenship values and respecting religious and cultural diversity, Law No. 149 of 2019 was promulgated to regulate the exercise of civil work. The law’s provisions apply to Egyptian civil society and regional and foreign non-governmental organizations, in order to cover civil work with the necessary legal umbrella to facilitate the civil society’s activities in the social, economic, cultural and environmental fields in support of sustainable development plans. Meanwhile, the law combats all activities of discrimination, violence and terrorism by prohibiting the following:
- The formation of secret societies, groups of clandestine or military nature, or advocating for or financing violence or terrorist organizations;
- Carrying out activities that disturb public order, public morals, national unity, or national security;
- Advocating for discrimination between citizens on the basis of gender, origin, colour, language, religion, creed, or any activity that advocates racism, incitement to hatred, or other causes that violate the constitution and law.
- The law also obligated “the Central Unit for Civil Society and Civil Work” to study the nature and the activities that render different types of civil society institutions more exposed to exploitation for terrorist financing operations. This aims at drying up the sources of terrorist financing and protecting civil society institutions from suspicious funding activities.
- Within the framework of activating the aforementioned law, the Egyptian State has supported civil society organizations working in the field of promoting the values and practices of citizenship and respecting religious and cultural diversity, through the implementation of development programmes that address the motives of youth to become involved with terrorist groups. This is in addition to cultural programmes that ingrain the values of citizenship and respect for the constitution and law, as well as to highlight religious and cultural diversity in Egypt’s history to counter the values of intolerance and terrorism. NGOs work to create inclusive civil spaces for all societal groups from different religious, social and cultural backgrounds in order to enhance societal stability and sustainable development.
6. The protection of the rights of victims of terrorism and their families:
- Egypt is committed to protect the rights of victims of terrorism and their families in line with its comprehensive approach to counter terrorism and in addressing repercussions of that phenomenon. In 2011, the Prime Minister issued decree No. 1485 establishing the National Council for the Support of the Families of Martyrs and Injured of Terrorism. It organizationally falls under the Prime Minister’s cabinet with the mission of providing all kinds of support, assistance and care to the families of the martyrs and the injured. It offers as part of its assistance free health and treatment services, housing services, free education, exemption from the cost of transportation, providing monthly ration cards, arranging touristic exertions, and organizing seminars for young terrorist victims to protect them from extremist thought. This is in addition to providing psychological rehabilitation services for the families of martyrs and their children, including those with disabilities, due to terrorist attacks and those who have experienced post-traumatic crises. It also helps young families of martyrs to find decent job opportunities according to their qualifications and setting up small projects for the families of martyrs and those injured in cooperation with the competent authorities.
- The Egyptian state also provides exceptional benefits and pensions for victims of terrorism, as follows:
- According to the Prime Minister’s exceptional decisions related to decree No. 915 of 2015 and its amendments victims of terrorist operations receive compensation amounting to 100 thousand L.E. for each martyr, and the same for each injured person resulting in his/her disability. Each injured person who spent more than an hour in the hospital receives 50 thousand L.E., as well as other immediate benefits.
- Paying an insurance pension to the families of the martyrs, taking into account the family’s right to combine this pension with any other pension or income, in accordance with exceptional decisions of decree No. 915 of 2015 and its amendments.
- Exempting the families of the martyrs and the injured from the cost of train and metro tickets, in coordination with the Ministry of Transport.
- Exempting the families of the martyrs from school and university fees, in coordination with the ministries of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research.
- The Egyptian state has provided social assistance, on an exceptional basis, to the families of martyrs and injured victims of terrorism amounting to 90,730,000 Egyptian, in addition to providing psychological and social support to treat post-traumatic crises of children of these families. The Ministry of Social Solidarity also provides soft loans to set up small and micro projects for women, and youth. The basic capital of these loans has reached nearly 620 million L.E. directed to 113,500 youth and women, in order to set up small and micro projects that contribute to improving the standard of living.
- On the other hand, 150 local NGOs participate with the Egyptian State in support of its efforts in creating an “app” called ”Wa’y” (awareness) to spread positive cultural and social values and prevent radicalization, whereby civil society supports community participation, especially youth, through joint economic and cultural programmes and activities. This project aims at forming positive societal values, attitudes and behaviours that lead to improving the quality of life, health, education, social and economic situation for all family members, which in turn contributes to enhancing sustainable development efforts for society and the country. Ten thousand young men and women participate in spreading and implementing the “Wa’y” app, in an effort to protect youth from terrorist thought.
- The Egyptian Red Crescent also seeks, through the Psychosocial Support Unit, to promote psychological and social rehabilitation and the development of all members of society, by creating awareness about psychological and social reactions and the special needs of those affected by terrorist attacks. The ERC supports educational activities that enable beneficiaries to enhance and rebuild psychological and social confidence, while fostering community inclusion, spreading a culture of peace, renouncing violence, and creating the appropriate environment to enhance prevention of trauma.
- In connection with the above-mentioned, psychological and social support interventions in emergencies have contributed to rebuilding trust in community members after they were exposed to various emergencies over the past years. A set of interventions was designed to address the needs of various groups in society, including women, children, youth and the elderly through targeted programmes. The latter includes children’s and youth resilience-building programmes, life skills and activating the role of youth in society as agents of change, as well as highlighting the role of women in community change.
- Egypt’s interest in promoting and protecting the rights of victims of terrorism and their families is also reflected in its diplomatic activities in the UN and other international fora. This is grounded in the conviction that terrorism has a devastating impact on the enjoyment of basic human rights, especially the right to life, personal security and the right to development. Egypt was among the countries that initiated the creation of the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism at the UN in New York, as well as joining the core group concerned with drafting United Nations General Assembly Resolution 305/73 on “Strengthening International Cooperation to Assist Victims of Terrorism” adopted in June 2019. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also participated in the first ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends of Victims of Terrorism, which was held in New York in September 2019, on the margins of the high-level segment of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Regional and International Cooperation
Egypt considers combating terrorism and extremist ideology as one of its foreign policy priorities. Egyptian diplomacy has intensified its efforts, whether through its active participation in various regional and international fora, or in the framework of bilateral consultations with many international partners, to promote Egypt’s vision, its comprehensive approach, and its various tools in the field of combating terrorism and extremism. Egypt has consistently called for the need for a comprehensive confrontation to all terrorist organizations without exception, as they represent a common threat to international peace and security. It has also stressed the importance of concerted regional and international efforts to confront all aspects of the scourge of terrorism and its root causes, while holding States that sponsor terrorism, and drying out its sources of financing and countering its ideological sources, as well as the necessity to reach an internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism.
- During and after its Chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, Egypt continued its active role in supporting African efforts in the field of countering terrorism and extremism through its various tools. This was based on the efforts Egypt has made over the past years in the bilateral and regional frameworks to provide technical support to build and raise the capabilities of its African brethren in that field, as a practical application of the AU’s principle of “African solutions to African problems”.
- In this context, during the years 2018 and 2019, the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development held, in cooperation with relevant ministries, several training courses for African officials in the fields of analysing terrorist crimes and securing critical infrastructure. This is in addition to the expected role of the African Union Centre for Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development, which Cairo hosts. Moreover, the President of the Republic also launched the “Aswan Forum for Durable Peace and Sustainable Development,” whose first edition was held on December 11th and 12th, 2019. The forum is intended to become a permanent regional and continental platform for dialogue and interaction between African political leaders, intellectuals, peace advocates, development partners and experts from all countries of the continent and outside to discuss prospects for linking peace and development in a sustainable manner. This is in line with the Egypt’s comprehensive approach to combat terrorism and contribute to supporting the countries of the continent in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the African Union Agenda 2063.
- Egypt also held the first Arab-African Youth Platform, in Aswan (the African Youth Capital for 2019) in March 2019. Among its final recommendations was that World Youth Forum, form an Arab and African working group to propose a mechanism to address issues of radicalization and extremism and present it as a youth initiative in that regard. This is in addition to discussing related challenges during the third edition of the “World Youth Forum”, which was held recently in Sharm El-Sheikh.
- During Egypt’s previous membership in the African Peace and Security Council from April 2016 to 2018, Egypt organized a number of activities to combat terrorism. The most important of which was the meeting held on January 27, 2018 at the level of Heads of State and Government in the council, under the auspices of the President of the Republic (On the margins of the African summit, Addis Ababa), to discuss “A comprehensive approach to combat the trans-boundary threat of terrorism in Africa”. This is in addition to an open dialogue session in September 2016 on combating terrorism and cyber security.
- In the context of Egypt’s pioneering role in supporting its African brethren, Egypt hosted a meeting of the chiefs of staff of the five African Sahel countries (G5) with European donor countries, in Cairo on February 11, 2020. During the meeting, the security situation in the Sahel region was discussed. Egypt also presented its vision to support the capabilities of the five African Sahel States, and to discuss a proposal to train officials on countering terrorism from those countries in Egypt. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of Defence, organized the 5th meeting of defence ministers of the countries of the Sahel and Sahara in March 2016 in Sharm El-Sheikh. One of its most important outcomes was to establish a CEN-SAD Counter-Terrorism Centre in Cairo. H.E. the President of the Republic has proposed that Egypt hosts a future extraordinary African Summit to explore the possibility of establishing a joint African Force to combat terrorism.
- On the other hand, Egypt has worked to strengthen the League of Arab States’ structures and systems for combating terrorism. It submitted a draft resolution, which was adopted by the Arab Foreign Ministers Council as decision 8262 on March 7, 2018 on “Developing the Arab system to combat terrorism.” This decision included paragraphs aimed at taking concrete measures to enhance Arab cooperation in the field of countering terrorism. The decision especially focused on activating and modernizing existing mechanisms, at the forefront of which is the Arab Convention against Terrorism, the Arab Convention for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, and the Arab Convention on the prevention of Information Crimes, in order to meet the emerging trends and technologies that have been exploited by terrorist organizations.
- At the United Nations, Egypt succeeded during its non-permanent membership of the Security Council as a representative of the African continent for the period 2016-2017, and its chairmanship of the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, to present and pass a number of important resolutions related to counter terrorism. At the forefront of these was UNSCR 2354 (2017), which approved the “comprehensive international framework for combating terrorist narratives”, as well as UNSCR 2370 (2017) on preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons. Egypt continues to call on the international community to implement these resolutions through practical and concrete measures, in order to ensure the effectiveness of international efforts to counter terrorism. This is in addition to Egypt’s active contribution during that period in drafting many other Security Council resolutions on CT matters, as well as continuing to take the necessary measures to abide by the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
- During that period Egypt, moreover, held several meetings to discuss bolstering efforts to combat terrorist narratives and ideologies. It also called for increased cooperation between Member States in this regard and providing technical assistance to countries, building their capacities and mobilizing the necessary financial resources. These efforts were culminated by the adoption of UNSCR 2354 (2017) referred to above.
- Egypt also organized a series of open meetings within the framework of the CT committee on “Means to address the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters”, and on “Avoiding the use of the Internet and social media for the purposes of terrorism”, as well as organizing another meeting in coordination with the ISIS and Al-Qaeda sanctions committee of the Security Council on “Addressing the financing of terrorism”. It also organized meetings on “Preventing the provision of safe havens for terrorists”, “The legal prosecution of convicted terrorists and their appearance before the competent courts”, “Challenges to counter terrorism in Libya”, and “Combating terrorism in the West African region”. Other meetings addressed the topic “Avoiding the use of civil aviation for terrorism”, in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO.
- The years 2018 and 2019 witnessed a strengthening of relations with the United Nations counter-terrorism bodies, as a series of visits to Cairo took place of senior officials of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office (UNOCT) and its centre “UNCCT” (two visits by the Deputy Head of the UNOCT and the Director of the Centre in February and December 2019, and the visit of the Deputy Director of the UNOCT in May 2019). These successful visits, which resulted in an agreement on a joint plan of action to hold a number of activities in the field of counter-terrorism during the year 2020. A high-level international conference, titled “Towards a Comprehensive Approach to Countering Terrorism and Extremist Narratives Conducive to Terrorism” will be jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt and UNOCT in Cairo.
- Prior to this, a visit by the delegation of the CTED (the technical arm of the Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee) to Cairo took place in July 2017 in the context of the committee’s regular follow up on the implementation of Security Council resolutions related to combating terrorism. The visit resulted in a positive report on the efforts of all Egyptian institutions in combating international terrorism and their commitment to implementing the relevant Security Council resolutions.
- Egypt also joined the United Nations Code of Conduct for Countering Terrorism on the margins of the seventy-third session of the UN General Assembly in September 2018. Egypt’s signature of that code complements its other efforts to counter terrorism within the framework of the United Nations, including the implementation of the UN Global CT Strategy. Moreover, Egypt strives to reach consensus on the draft of a “Comprehensive United Nations Convention against Terrorism “.
- In the year 2020, as a recognition of Egypt’s role in CT efforts at the UN level, the president of the General Assembly chose Egypt along with Spain as co-facilitator of the seventh periodic review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. This process will culminate with the adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly in that regard.
- On the other hand, Egypt continues its active role in other multilateral fora such as the “Global Counter-Terrorism Forum” (GCTF), where its diplomatic efforts resulted in assuming, since September 2017, the co-chairmanship with the European Union of the East Africa Capacity-Building Working Group, which is one of the five GCTF working groups. Egypt succeeded in securing the Chairmanship for a second term until September 2021. The Forum is a multilateral arena, which aims at strengthening international cooperation efforts in issues related to combating terrorism, and identifying the technical needs of the countries concerned, upon their request, and according to their local priorities, based on the principles of “national ownership” and adapted to the local context of each country while seeking to mobilize resources to finance those needs.
- In this context, from 15 to 18 April 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted two expert workshops, the first on the topic of combating extremist ideology leading to terrorism in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. The second was on international best practices in combating the financing of terrorism in East Africa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also held the second annual meeting of the working group in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2019.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also organized a high-level side event on “Combating the Financing of Terrorism” on September 26, 2019 in New York on the margins of the seventy-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly, in cooperation and in the presence of the Under-Secretary-General Head of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and a number of ministers from the East Africa region. This high level event was a good opportunity to highlight Egypt’s views in that regard, while underlining the important role played by the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combatting Unit (EMLCU) in implementing Egypt’s international obligations in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2462 (2019) that Egypt has been at the forefront to adopt it. It was also an occasion to share Egypt’s good practices in providing its African brethren with technical support in CT related fields, which was praised by all participants.
- Another high-level side event on the “Links between terrorism and organized crime networks” in East Africa is being organized in connection with the implementation of UNSCR 2482 (2019) on the nexus between terrorism and organized crime.
- On another note, Egypt continues to support international efforts aimed at combating Daesh/ISIS in Syria and Iraq, through the active participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in meetings of Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, at the ministerial and political directors levels, as well as in the framework of both the Stabilization and Communications Working Groups of the Global Coalition.
International, Arab and African cooperation agreements and protocols
- Egypt was at the forefront of countries that warned of the dangers of terrorism and its devastating repercussions on the stability of international peace and security. Egypt contributed to the international community’s efforts to counter terrorism by adhering to the majority of international and regional instruments related to combating terrorism, starting with the signature of the Geneva Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism (1937). It is one of the first serious attempts by the international community to tackle the phenomenon of terrorism.
- Egypt has ratified the following international conventions in the field of counter-terrorism:
- Tokyo Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, concluded in Tokyo in September 1963. Decision of the President No. 51 of 2017 regarding approval of Egypt’s accession to the Montreal Protocol was issued to amend the Tokyo Agreement mentioned above and ratified by Egypt in 1975, as this protocol expanded the jurisdiction of the States parties in their fight against crimes that occur on air transport.
- Convention for the Suppression of the Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, concluded in The Hague on December 16, 1970.
- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation concluded in Montreal on September 23, 1971.
- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, adopted by the United Nations on December 14, 1973.
- International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, adopted by the United Nations on 17/12/1979.
- Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, annexed to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, signed in February 1988.
- Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, concluded in Rome on March 10, 1988, and the Protocol to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.
- Convention on the Marking of Ballistic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, signed in Montreal on March 1, 1991.
- International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, adopted by the United Nations on December 15, 1997.
- International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, concluded in New York on December 9, 1999.
- Egypt has also ratified a number of other international agreements related to combating the phenomenon of terrorism and dealing with issues related to this phenomenon, the most important of which are, but not limited to, the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and those related to maritime piracy, and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime signed in Palermo in December 2000, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, signed in Mexico on December 2003.
- The following are the regional conventions related to counter-terrorism, which Egypt has also ratified:
- The Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism, concluded in Cairo on April 22, 1988, and signed by all Arab countries during the Conference of Arab Interior and Justice Ministers held by Egypt at the League of Arab States in Cairo in April 1988. It should be noted that the League of Arab States used the definition contained in the Egyptian Penal Code when it laid down a definition of terrorism with the provisions of the Arab Convention on Combating Terrorism.
- The Organization of African Unity Convention on the Prevention and Combatting of Terrorism, concluded in Algeria on July 14, 1999, and Egypt acceded in 2000.
- The Arab Convention for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, signed in Cairo on December 21, 2010.
- The Arab Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, signed in Cairo on August 19, 2014.
- The Arab Convention on Combatting Information Technology Offences, signed in Cairo on December 12, 2010.
- Treaty of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating International Terrorism, signed on June 28, 1992 in Ouagadougou.
- Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation, concluded within the framework of the Arab League on 4 April 1983.