Ikhwanweb has decided to post this interesting interview with General Fouad Allam, a former deputy director of Egypt’s state security service, which was published by The Herlad World Peace. General Allam in his interview, made some laughable remarks about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Palestine, in addition to a bunch of very shallow analyses of the current world affairs. It is sad when men with the mentality of General Allam are indeed in charge of security in our country, no wonder we have no security. . . Khaled Salam, editor
Interview: Behind the Sinai bombings
By Shinkichi Suzuki and Hind el Hallage
Special to World Peace Herald
Published June 19, 2006
Egypt’s first terrorist attack since 1997 came in 2004, in a series of coordinated suicide attacks on the Sinai resort of Taba, along the Israeli border. Other bombings in Sharm El Sheikh followed those attacks last year, and the latest occurred this April in the Sinai resort of Dahab.
Common to the three terrorist strikes is that they targeted mainly Egyptian tourism, the country’s largest foreign currency earner. Although Egyptian authorities arrested and recently gunned down terrorists who took part in the Sinai bombings, mystery is still surrounds the case. General Fouad Allam, a former deputy director of Egypt’s state security service, has a long history of fighting terrorism. He spoke to World Peace Herald about the Sinai bombings, and provided more insight into the motives and aims behind them, as well as the efforts of Egypt’s security service to uncover the terrorist network.
Q: Many people around the world, including Egyptians, do not trust the information provided by the Egyptian government regarding the Sinai terror attacks. Egyptian authorities have always claimed that a small group of radicals carried out the bombings with no ties to any existing Islamist organizations. What do you think? Who do you think has been behind the Sinai terror attacks? Is there any possibility that al-Qaida took part?
A: Personally, I think that al-Qaida as an organization no longer exists. That is because, as we know, al-Qaida leaders all surrendered more than six years ago. International forces have been fighting its existence for the last 4 years. Security forces and intelligence services around the world have been tracking its activities. Therefore, it is not logical to think that the al-Qaida organization still exists. This is especially so, since the United States of America, the superpower with largest military forces in the world, has taken responsibility for putting an end to its activities.
Therefore, I believe that the al-Qaida organization vanished, or we might say, was dismantled three years ago. On the other hand, I also believe that the radical ideologies and strategies of al-Qaida still exist, while the organization itself faded years ago. On the Internet we can find these thoughts and ideas, which have influenced some youth to adopt them and execute those terror blasts. Yet, it is obvious that there is not a direct organized relation between those youth and al-Qaida itself.
[Ikhwanweb: I do not think the U.S. government itself can make with such certainity, the determination that Al Qaeda is finished]
As for Sinai bombings, I will tackle the Taba explosion first, which has attracted our attention the most. It was different from the others (Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab). From my point of view, it was well organized, its tactics were well studied, and it used high-tech equipment to execute the operation. The Egyptian security service could not imagine that a terror organization could be so accurate, developed, skilled in the use of high technology and well funded at the same time.
Suspicions arose that there might be a foreign element involved in the Taba bombings. It was a surprise to uncover the involvement of a Palestinian element, Abu Eiad, who died in the blast afterwards, the Egyptian security service arrested some of those terrorists connected to the blast and discovered that Abu Eiad had frequently visited Israel. That is why many Egyptians believed that Abu Eiad might have been recruited by Israel. The large amounts of explosive materials, as well as their quality, were not within the reach of ordinary organizations. Moreover, the plan of the terror blast was accurate and precise, and the way in which it was carried out also demonstrates a careful study of weak points. Therefore, there has been a tendency among Egyptians to believe that a power foreign group such as the Israeli intelligence service Mossad was responsible.
In contrast, both the Sharm El Sheikh and the Dahab terror blasts employed primitive explosives and their targets and aims were confusing. The terror blasts targeted places largely frequented by Egyptians, which caught the attention of the Egyptian security service.
Recently, the Egyptian government made arrests connected to the blast. Among the 90 suspects, were three Palestinians, who managed to escape to Palestine. The three had arrived at Cairo six months before the operation took place, and they vanished without a trace, which may be proof that Israel had a hand in their disappearance.
Egyptian authorities have asked the Palestinian Authority to arrest these figures and hand them over. Until now no arrests have been made, nor have any traces the three been found. Assuming Mossad did not have any relationship with those Palestinians, it would be easy for them to trace and arrest them.
Q: Why do Egyptian security forces always kill terrorists they are chasing? Why don’t the Police should arrest them and then investigate?
A: This does not always happen. In the Sinai there are many mountains and valleys as well as unpaved roads, which no one knows how to get through except those terrorists, who have planted mines in their wake. A number of policemen have been shot dead and some others had sustained severe injuries. The security forces surrounded the whole area cutting off all food aids from reaching them. Left with no alternatives, the terrorists began to fire at the Egyptian forces, who returned their fire. The same story repeated itself in both the Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh attacks.
Q: What is al-Qaida’s presence in Egypt or the Middle East in general? Some sources have said that they have spread their activities throughout the Middle East, in particular, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
A: There is nothing called al-Qaida in Egypt anymore. We may say there are sub-organizations who have adopted the ideologies and thoughts of al-Qaida after being influenced by them. Yet, they have no direct ties to al-Qaida. Eight years ago, there was some kind of relationship between al-Qaida and some Egyptian organizations. The last terror operation that had any connection with al-Qaida was the Luxor bombing in1997. After that it was al-Qaida disappeared form the scene. If some figures are influenced by the statements of Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Bin Laden, this does not mean that al-Qaida still exists in Egypt.
Q: What is the future of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Is there any possibility that they could gain power in Egypt in the near future? What is the relationship between the Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Palestine?
A: Of course, there is a difference between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. We should differentiate between them. Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was once quoted in al-Jazeera as saying that there was no relation between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. We should remember that Hamas was formed by Israel at the time when Brotherhood was controlling Fatah. At the very beginning of the Fatah movement, the Muslim Brotherhood was controlling the majority of its activities. Thus, Israel planed to form another Islamic movement to be a rival to Fatah. Ahmed Yassin also stated that majority of Hamas was controlled by Israeli figures at first. Afterwards, he assured that Hamas was purified from its Israeli element through executions, and it became purely Islamic.
Khaled Mashaal who is the political leader of Hamas now, was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Yet, after he joined Hamas in Palestine, he cut his relations with the Brotherhood. That is why people confuse Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
There is a widespread belief that the Muslim Brotherhood formed Hamas, which is completely wrong. The Muslim Brotherhood formed another fellow group in Palestine. Hasan al-Bana, who formed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has a brother called Abdul Rahman al- Bana. People also believe he is a member of the Brotherhood, which is wrong too. Abdul Rahman al-Bana is the editor of three books that are completely different from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. As for their future in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood achieved an impressive electoral and political victory after gaining 88 seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections. They also have many representatives in governmental unions such as journalists and lawyers. We cannot say that the Muslim Brotherhood represents a majority, or that it controls Egypt, as we live in a democratic atmosphere today that has provided them with a suitable outlet to realize their goals. Every now and then, the Egyptian security service arrests some of their factions, which try to adopt violence. Recently, the Egyptian security forces arrested 22 Muslim Brotherhood members who tried to do so.
What makes it worse is that Muslim Brotherhood was the only movement that managed to gain this number of seats. Although there were ten rivals political parties participating, such as the Wafd, Tagamou and Naserist, they did not manage to claim the same success as the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim Brotherhood does not represent the majority of Egyptians, they do represent the majority of Egyptians who took part in the last elections. Only 22 percent of Egyptians participated in the last parliamentary elections. If all Egyptians had taken part in the elections, the outcome would have been completely different. Yet, Egyptians do not believe in transparency or honesty in the political process because they never experienced such a democracy before. That is the main reason why they do not take part in elections. The ones who really care about participating are mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, and that is why they claimed success in the last elections.
[Ikhwanweb: 1- The thought that Hamas was created by Israel to counter the influence of Fattah is utterly ridiculous, and I think the Israelis would consider this an insult to their intelligence! It is disastrous to hear such remarks coming from a high-ranking officer and the man who was formerly in charge of the security apparatus in Egypt.
2- I wonder if General Allam is aware that President Mubarak was elected to fifth term in power by only 6,316,714 votes, and the turnout for the presidential elections among registered voters according to the government’s statistics was exactly 22.9 %. By the same analogy, is it fair to argue that president Mubarak does not represent the majority of the Egyptian people?!
3-General Allam is wrong once again. The Muslim Brothers are not constantly arrested by his security personnel because "they adopt violence". There is not one single piece of evidence to support his allegation. The Muslim Brotherhood is being harassed and intimidated because it is the only viable and serious opposition to the regime and its oppressive practices]
Q: In your opinion, why would Israel have taken part in planning for terror bombings in Egypt?
A: Generally, Israel aims at creating an atmosphere of instability, confusion, and insecurity in Egypt. Although, it signed a peace treaty with Egypt, Israel still realizes that Egypt is the only country that could put its existence in danger.
In forming their strategies, the Israeli government has aimed to keep Egypt weak, especially economically. A few years ago, Egyptian authorities arrested an Israeli spy. This spy had the mission to study and transfer information mainly about the Egyptian economy. This is the ultimate proof of what I have said. As long as Egypt remains busy reforming its economy, its government will forget about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Israel has also spread its spies in the United States. Two months ago, another Israeli spy was arrested in the U.S. Nevertheless, the Bush administration decided to cover it up and keep it a secret. Therefore, we should ask ourselves, why does Israel spy on the United States when their ties are better than the Egypt-Israel ties?
[Ikhwanweb: Other than assumptions, there is no concrete evidence that even Israel is involved in the Dahab bombings. By rushing to blame other foreign elements, whether Israel or Al Qaeda, the Egyptian authorities are trying to ignore their own domestic problems, which appeared to have played a major role in these heinous bombings. The state of despair among ordinary Egyptians and the desire to avenge the government heavy handed measures against innocent citizens, have created an unprecedented level of anger that is waiting to explode. Perhaps, the Egyptian government should focus its attention on trying to resolve its grievances with its own people, which then will ensure peace and stability for the country]
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