INTERVIEW: Egypt's interior minister talks war on terrorism, plots against country and state of human rights

Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, Friday 23 Mar 2018

Magdi Abdel Ghaffar
Egypt's Interior Minister General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar. (Photo: Reuters)

In his first interview with the press since he took office in 2016, Egyptian Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghafar announced that that from 2014 to 2017 Egyptian security forces arrested 19,108 terrorist elements with huge quantities of weapons and ammunitions.

In the interview with weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi magazine, Abdel-Ghafar also revealed that terrorist attacks notably reduced from 481 in 2014 to only 22 in 2017 in Egypt.

He also added that in the previous four years, the Egyptian security forces, in cooperation with other security services both domestic and abroad, managed to conduct preemptive security strikes that enabled them to destroy 992 terrorist hideouts and to confiscate 2322 different weapons as well hundreds of thousands of pieces of munitions.

The minister also added that the security forces were able to confiscate 1511 explosive belts and explosive devices.  

 "We cannot depend solely on the security confrontation to terrorism, the responsibility goes to the state's institutions to raise the awareness of the citizens especially the youth to protect them from radicalism," the minister said in the interview.

Speaking about next week’s presidential election, which he described as “a major global event,” the minister said that a comprehensive plan has been put to secure the elections, and to guarantee the process will be successful nationwide, through facilitating and providing voters with all security, support and safety.

"Terrorists, Lies and plots"

Abdel-Ghaffar described terrorism as “the most dangerous phenomenon” and said that many European countries have been subject to terrorist attacks on their territory, committed by their citizens, who have joined terrorist groups in conflict zones in the region.

With the success in combating these groups in Syria and Iraq, and the loss of those territories, as well as the fleeing of these groups' members to their home countries or to neighbouring countries, the threats and danger of possible attacks are increasing, the minister said, therefore the ministry is taking preemptive procedures to guarantee those elements will not infiltrate Egypt.

The minister also said that Egypt had discovered “a hostile plot” that aims to defame the image of the country, and is being conducted by Muslim Brotherhood fugitives in Qatar and Turkey.

Abdel-Ghaffar said that information had revealed that a plan aimed at “fomenting a state of anger among citizens,” as well as broadcasting false news and creating crises via the media, and included a number of Brotherhood-affiliated TV channels and websites.

The leadership of the media committee for the plan is present in Qatar and Turkey, the minister said, and these leaders are fugitives.

The government has arrested elements inside Egypt who are carrying out the plans of fugitive Brotherhood leaders and taken legal procedures against them, Abdel-Ghaffar said.

"All procedures are taken in accordance with the constitution and law as well human rights principles," he asserted.

Egypt and human rights

Abdel-Ghaffar said that his ministry had revealed the falsehood of allegations by the Brotherhood claiming the existence of human rights violations, and forced disappearance of young Egyptians.

The allegations aim at distorting Egypt's image in the international arena, he said, and claim that security institutions are involved in such acts; however he said these lies had been covered, referring to examples including the incident of Zobaida Ibrahim Younis, which he said had not been tortured or forcibly disappeared, as had been claimed.

Abdel-Ghaffar also referred to the escalation by some international organisations that claim to have reports on human rights conditions in Egypt, also comes amid the suspected role of these organisations, and what he described as their link to the terrorist Brotherhood group, which aims at obstructing the success of Egypt internally and internationally.

The minister said that a number of procedures had been taken to improve the human rights system in the ministry, including establishing a human rights department, raising awareness among the ministry's employees, and intensifying surveillance on police stations and other places where detainees were held.Abdel-Ghafar also stressed that the ministry has not taken any exceptional procedures during the fight against terrorism.

Illegal migration and human trafficking

Concerning undocumented immigration, Minister Abdel-Ghafer announced that a new department has been founded to fight human trafficking.

He also stated that from 2017 till today, 103 cases of undocumented immigration were foiled in Egypt as well 361 cases of illegal crossing of Egyptian borders, and 4419 non-legal migrants have been arrested from different nationalities.

He also added the phenomenon of undocumented migration by sea from Egyptian shores has stopped thanks to a 2016 law that criminalized such activities with penalties ranging from a fine of EGP 200 all the way up to life imprisonment. 

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