What will Egypt's alternative security division look like?

Ayman Farouk, Thursday 17 Mar 2011

Units monitoring Islamic movements, university student activities, political groups and media are to be shut down, says an Interior Ministry source

(Photo : Reuters)

Minister of Interior Mansour Essawi took a step in the direction of the demands of the 25 January Revolution in Egypt by dissolving the State Security Investigations apparatus and all its affiliates, branches and offices across the country. The decision also created a new department at the Interior Ministry called the Homeland Security Division.

Sources told Ahram Online that within days Essawi will announce the name of the assistant minister who will be in charge of this division. At the same time, a group of officers at the defunct State Security Investigations are being hand-picked based on their experience in security — not political — issues, including international relations, technical assistance and other fields related to protecting the country’s home front.

A source at the ministry explained that the new department will have entirely different responsibilities from those of the obsolete State Security Investigations.

All political units were eliminated, including ones responsible for monitoring political Islamic movements, as well as ones overseeing university student activities and political groups. The source also expected that units monitoring broadcast and written media will also be shut down, and will only observe these outlets for threats to the domestic front. Units specialised in political arrests will also be replaced with units to monitor terrorist activities, and cells working on the international stage to undermine the country’s security and economy.

The security source added that the new department will primarily be responsible for coordination among all state agencies to maintain homeland security, as well as be a security mediator with other police departments to protect the home front. It is expected that the new division will also be in charge of fighting corruption in state agencies.

Officers, who are currently being picked and assigned their duties at the new department, will not wear a uniform and will not carry arms.

The division head will be directly appointed by the minister of interior without interference from any other official, unlike the defunct State Security Investigations whose chief was appointed by the president. The department is also expected to carry out its work without interacting with the public, and will only focus on those suspected of terrorist acts that will be outlined in the division’s duties to be announced in the next few days.

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