Ex-police chief says Mubarak's security apparatus 'incompetent'

Mohammed Saad , Sunday 31 Mar 2013

The Egyptian security apparatus under Mubarak had no guiding philosophy and mostly depended on the use of violence, says Hamdy El-Batran in new book

The Discussion
Helmi Namanm (Left),Hamdy El-Batran (Middle) and Zaki Okasha (Right)

The security apparatus under the minister of interior was the main player in governing Egypt during the Mubarak era. Yet this security apparatus did not have a vision or philosophy of security in Egypt, according to a recently published book by retired police general Hadmy El-Batran, entitled Al-Amn Min Al-Minassa Ella Al-Midan (The Security Apparatus from the Stage to the Square).

Al-Ain Publishing House hosted the author and writer Helmy Namnam, and retired air force general Zaki Okasha to discuss the book last week.

The book traces the practices of the security apparatus in Egypt since the assassination of President Anwar El-Sadat on 6 October 1980 until the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution on 25 January 2011.

The author, who served for decades in the Egyptian police, also presents profiles of the seven ministers of interior who worked under Mubarak and were both feared and unknown to the people.

“I’d been trying to write this book for years before the Egyptian revolution, but I never thought the book would tackle the whole security apparatus. I wanted to write a book about the ministers of interior. I thought it would be interesting to write a book about them as they were all appointed and dismissed for unclear reasons."

"But I was afraid to publish such a book before the revolution, especially because I knew that Habib El-Adly, Mubarak’s last minister of interior, had no problem acting illegally, to take revenge against whomever criticises the regime,” El-Batran explained.

According to El-Batran, the main sovereign functions of the Egyptian state were handed to the state security apparatus, including the files on Copts and Sinai.

“Mubarak depended on the security apparatus in governing the state. He handed them the Coptic file and the Sinai files and they spoiled them. State security is known for using quick and violent solutions, and that is what they did in both files. They made mass arrests and tortured a lot of people thinking that this would end societal tensions,” El-Batran said.

“What we suffer today are the consequences of the security solution [for these files], while many other things aside applying security-based solutions could be done to look for the reasons behind tensions between Muslims and Copts, and between the residents of Sinai and the Egyptian state,” he explained.

The Egyptian security apparatus had a random philosophy of security, El-Batran said.

"Every minister of interior would bring his own team, by which he would be guaranteed loyalty. But this resulted in chaos and instability in the old security apparatus."

The author also tackles the relation between Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak took the reigns of power in the heyday of "terrorism" in Egypt so he thought the best way to fight jihadists was to use the Muslim Brotherhood against them, according to El-Batran.

“The Muslim Brotherhood had a double mission for Mubarak’s regime. In a way, they were moderate Islamists who could face jihadists in the name of Islam; and at the same time, he used them to fight the liberal and leftist opposition in Egypt. He pampered them very much.”

Retired General Okasha shared the same opinion of El-Batran — that the security apparatus was inefficient.

This was revealed by a little-known foiled-attempt to assassinate Mubarak in 1993, according to Okasha.

In the book signing, Okasha told his version of the foiled-attemp on the life of the former president, which was reportedly connected to an army officer, the-late Medhat El-Tahawy who served in Sidi Barrani military airport and was reportedly affiliated to Islamic jihadists.

According to Okasha, the failed attempt to assassinate Mubarak was accidentally foiled after the attempt on Sidqi failed.

The failure of the Sidqi operation eventually led to the arrest of all its planners who informed on El-Tahawy.

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