CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood creates “terrorist cells” to claim responsibility for attacks, repelling accusations of “terrorism” against the Brotherhood itself, the Ministry of Interior claimed in a Thursday statement.
The statement revealed investigations on Islam Shehata, who was arrested March 13 while allegedly carrying out his “eighth operation” and planting explosive devices in downtown Cairo.
“I used to go to the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in; after the sit-in, I made acquaintance with Malek. Malek introduced me to Gamal, and Gamal persuaded me to carry out jihadi operations in Egypt against the police and the army. I executed eight operations with Gamal. My first operation was with Gamal at Ain Shams University,” Shehata, 23, said in a video released by the police.
He also appears in the video leading prosecutors to locations of his eight operations, showing them how and where he planted the bombs. Shehata and a man codenamed Hossam, allegedly appear in the video walking past the High Court at 10:30 March 1, and planting a bomb. The two men were filmed from two angels by a camera that appears to be installed on the High Court building, and a camera on a shop across from it.
They were allegedly present in the vicinity of the court March 2 morning and detonated the bomb by calling the cellphone inside it, killing two civilians and maiming others.
Allegations that the Brotherhood perpetrates attacks while saving face
The Brotherhood’s leaders who fled Egypt have agreed to modify the group’s intellectual approach to accommodate the phase it is undergoing, officially renouncing the slogan of peacefulness, police spokesperson Hany Abdel Latif said in the statement.
In the aftermath of arresting many Brotherhood leaders in Egypt on charges of violence, the Islamist organization worked on integrating its members with other “terrorist groups” under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the statement.
Investigation identified extremist groups that have the same directions as the Brotherhood; Ajnad Misr, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Gamaa Islamiyya, and Hazemoun.
The said groups have created armed cluster cells carrying names such as Helwan Brigades, the Revolutionary Punishment, the Execution Battalion, Hasm, Anti-Coup Black Block, … etc, to claim responsibility for “terrorist operations.”
Their target is, according to the Ministry of Interior, to insinuate the multiplicity of extremist movements in Egypt and to allow the Brotherhood to publicize itself as a moderate group.
The Brotherhood has capitalized on the intellectual compatibility between the Brotherhood and the other extremist factions, and their transitory strategic goal to spread violence under the pretext of jihadism, Abdel Latif added.
Ajnad Misr, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and Gamaa Islamiyya are designated “terrorist organizations” by Egypt and the U.S. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman designate the Muslim Brothehrood as “terrorist.” Hazemoun movement, created in 2012 to support radical now-jailed preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, has not been recognized as listed as terrorist.
Although has a history of violence and assassination, the Brotherhood turned to grass roots activities in the past few decades, but Gamaa Islamiyya emerged in the 90s to lead a violent insurgency, then pledged peacefulness. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which appeared after the 2011 revolution, renamed itself the Sinai Province after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014. Ajnad Misr revealed itself in January 2014, but claimed responsibility for attacks in late 2013.
What are Shehata’s eight operations?
Shehata, himself condenamed Hassan, led to online communication between a man condenamed Gamal, who works under Ajnad Misr, and members from a variety of the mentioned cells. In a previous police report, a man named Emad Saeed was reported as one of Ajnad Misr leaders.
According to Shehata’s statements in the police video, the operations, aside from the High Court attack, include injuring four policemen at Cairo’s Ain Shams University in December 2013 with “Ahmed and Gamal.”
The attack was followed by planting a bomb at Cinema Radobis on Haram Street in January 2014with Ahmed, Haythan and Yassine, leaving casualties; Killing an officer in Giza in January with “Gamal, Haytham and Yassine;” injuring a policeman at Qubba palace in January with “Hazem;” damaging stores in downtown Cairo by detonating a bomb in February with “Hossam, Moaz and Hazem;” and planting a bomb on a tree outside Haram Hospital in Giza March 9 with “Hossam and Hammam,” leaving no casualties as it was defused.
Shehata was a resident of Matariya, a blue-collar district in North Cairo that has witnssed ongoing pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests.
Are Egypt’s armed groups interlinked?
A Twitter account that affiliates itself with Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility for the High Court explosion, but a group called Giza Popular Brigades, which has perpetrated dozens of incidents of arson and explosions, denied the Revolutionary Punishment was responsible for killing civilians. Attacks that kill civilians are often not claimed.
A bomb that killed an officer in Giza was claimed by both Ajnad Misr and Giza Popular Brigades. The latter often releases information on attacks perpetrated by Revolutionary Punishment.
One of the suspects arrested for killing a civilian at yet another explosion outside Cinema Radobis, as security forces are often deployed in the area, in March 2014 told investigators he is affiliated with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated TV channels that air from Turkey have interviewed members of armed groups, including the Revolutionary Punishment, over the phone.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry gave U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a C.D. in February with videos of “terrorism” faced by Egypt.
In one of the videos, a presenter at Misr Alaan channel requests protesters to kill officers, and warns officers’ wives and children that they would be killed, saying he is sure groups of protesters have full details on officers across Egypt, including their addresses and their children.
The CD included another video from Misr Alaan, where a spokesperson of the “Revolutionary Punishment” in Minya governorate listed the full names and titles of several police officers and threatened they and their families would be targeted.