In an exclusive interview with Ahram Online on the recent Israeli spy case, Major General Fouad Allam, security expert and former deputy of Egypt’s State Security Agency, says that the actual relationship between Egypt and Israel remains "hostile at the core," despite political attempts by both sides to make it look otherwise.
“Israel still considers Egypt its number one enemy and main nemesis in the region, and accordingly it is seeking to weaken Egypt,” says Allam, discussing normalizing political relations between the two countries as part of the 1979 peace treaty, which is over three decades old. “It is uncommon to say that the agreement appeased fears on both sides, and reality confirms this,” he adds.
Speaking from his experience, Allam said he believes that Israel no longer spies on Egypt in military matters, especially since Tel Aviv supercedes the military capabilities of Arab nations. What is more dangerous, he argues, is espionage during times of peace. He claims that Israel is dabbling in critical economic and social issues in Egypt, in order to warp its political scene. It collects data about discrepancies in Egyptian society and other such matters. Other espionage cases have targeted the economy by spying on factories in 6th of October City.
Allam said that he believes the time has come to challenge the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and revise joint policies. He feels that the high volume of publicized and unpublicized Israeli espionage cases in Egypt require Cairo to change its policies towards Tel Aviv. “Many Israelis who come to Egypt as tourists infiltrate various locations to gather firsthand and direct information,” he states. “This requires the attention of state security.”
Allam also warns against the migration of thousands of Egyptian workers to Israel and marriage to Israeli women. “How can this be?” he asks. “In 15-20 years there will be soldiers of Egyptian origin in the Israeli army. How can peace result in an Israeli soldier of Egyptian origin raising a gun in the face of another Egyptian? The future is full of peril; we cannot claim that the peace treaty is enough to make the October 1973 war the last war.”
The security expert cast his doubts that Abdel-Razek, the main perpetrator in the recent espionage case, sought to become a Mossad operative. “It is difficult to believe that the Mossad would accept such a proposition easily, as if it were an application for a job,” he argues. “Even if this were the case, it would be rare. Israel seduces Egyptian youth, especially those abroad.” Rather, Allam points a finger to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry of not paying enough attention to this issue by staying in touch with young Egyptians overseas, and failing to raise their awareness.
Egypt has stopped promoting patriotic sentiments among the young and boosting their nationalism through student summer camps, he said. “The regime is responsible for this duty,” he states.
The spy is only partially to blame, according to Allam, because the regime also shares the guilt. There are domestic, not only security, policies which need to be revised, he says, most prominently the issues of unemployment and poverty. “This young man resorted to espionage because he was a victim of neglect by Egyptian institutions,” he reasons.
What’s new in this case, Allam points out, is the evolution of political espionage. Abdel-Razek was recruited to scout for agents to spy on Egyptian, Syrian and Lebanese politics as part of an elaborate regional spy network. He asserted that Israel has new means of benefiting from gathering such information to control the Egyptian regime.
Allam suggests that security agencies should study the case of Abdel-Razek as a significant security issue, because he was a major player in recruitment for a network advertising jobs to attract candidates in various Arab countries. Abdel-Razek received thousands of applications, which was another part of his role as a major source of information. Applicants filled in detailed forms in addition to recording conversations with officials, making up a comprehensive spy work plan worthy of further study.