Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Death list

What is the truth behind a document allegedly containing a list of 100 public figures to be assassinated? Mohamed Abdel-Baky investigates

Al-Ahram Weekly

“It’s time to start the holy Jihad against both Egypt’s current Islamist ruler and the secular opposition for believing in irreligious institutions like the parliament and the presidency and for being a friend of Western powers,” reads the Fath Misr (Conquest of Egypt) document, allegedly compiled by defendants in the Nasr City terrorism cell case.

According to Al-Watan , the independent newspaper which published the document last week, Conquest of Egypt offers a detailed account of plans by militant Islamists to seize power in Egypt. The text, it is claimed, was written by Karim Bedeiwi, the man killed in a police raid on an apartment in Nasr City. Eight other members of the cell were arrested.

The cell has been tied to the September terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, during which four Americans, including the US ambassador, were killed.

The document outlines the steps necessary to seize power, and includes an assassination list of 100 public figures including President Mohamed Morsi, opposition leaders Mohamed Al-Baradei, Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, the Coptic pope and leading politicians and security officials. The current Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, his predecessor Hussein Tantawi and former chief of staff Sami Anan were also on the list.

The document also urged the assassination of the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb.

“It is urgent to get rid of people like the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and his students who are exerting every effort to prevent holy Jihad across the world,” the document said. “The mufti and his aides are also helping the Western infidels’ governments and the Jews to destroy our beloved Islam.”

One section of the document talked about targeting the media, which is described as “the great devil”. Leading journalists and talk shows anchors are to be killed and “Media Production City, the house of the devils” attacked with mortar shells and other explosive devices.

It recommends simultaneous bombings at vital establishments, including the Ministry of Interior and the Suez Canal, and the blocking of main roads and other communication networks.

In addition to murdering the pope, militants are told to target the Coptic community in general, abduct prominent Coptic figures and plant bombs in areas inhabited by Christians. The aim, says the document, is to ignite sectarian strife and end the presence of Christians in Egypt. “The structure of Egyptian society must be changed so it is ready for implementing Islamic Sharia law and that cannot happen until we rid Egypt of the Nasara [Christians].”

The Muslim Brotherhood has questioned the authenticity of the document.

“This document emerged from the imagination of Al-Watan newspaper editors. It does not exist in reality,” insisted Mohamed Al-Beltagui, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Al-Beltagui accused Al-Watan’s editor, Magdi Al-Gallad, of seeking to incite unrest in Egypt by publishing the document.

Islamist lawyer Sayed Abdel-Aal has filed a complaint with the State Security prosecutor accusing the paper of publishing rumours and false information. The editor of Al-Watan is expected to be summoned by the prosecution for questioning.

Ahmed Al-Khatib, the journalist who leaked the document, insists its existence is common knowledge and former interior minister Ahmed Gamaleddin himself referred to it when speaking to the media last November.

“Islamists are free not to believe it, but that does not change the fact the police found it at the crime scene when they raided the terrorist cell,” says Gamaleddin. 

He added that the document was distributed among 22 jihadist cells that form an intricate terrorist network connecting Cairo to other Egyptian governorates.

Montasser Al-Zayat, the lawyer representing the Nasr City defendants, acknowledges that police have included the document in the case but says his clients deny any knowledge of it. “Nobody knows who wrote this plan… what I am sure of is that the defendants of the Nasr City case have no connection to it,” said Al-Zayat.

Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert on Jihadist groups, said that political turmoil in Egypt was making it easier for militant groups to recruit young people. The fragile security situation, he added, makes it all too easy to launch targeted assassinations.

The document published by Al-Watan appeared after Salafi Sheikh Mahmoud Shaaban issued a fatwa sanctioning the murder of National Salvation Front (NSF) leaders. Arrested and accused of inciting murder, Shaaban was subsequently released on bail.

Security has been tightened around leading opposition figures like Al-Baradei. President Mohamed Morsi’s office, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil and Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have condemned the fatwa.

Nabil Abdel-Fattah, an expert on militant Islamist groups, says the rhetoric employed by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, and their constant accusations that the secular opposition is using street violence to topple Morsi, could help usher in a period of assassinations.

In December senior Brotherhood member Mohamed Yakout told the Muslim Brotherhood TV station Misr 25 that the Brotherhood had evidence that the NSF planned to kidnap Morsi in order to take over power.

Egypt has seen several politically motivated assassinations in the recent past. In 1981 President Anwar Al-Sadat was gunned down by Islamic extremists. The Islamic militant insurgency in the 1990s included attempts to kill the then prime minister Atef Sedki. Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz narrowly survived an attempt on his life while writer Farag Foda, a scathing critic of Islamists, was gunned down as he left his office days after a fatwa called for his death as an apostate.

Foda’s daughter Samar has warned Al-Baradei to take the recent fatwa seriously.

“They killed my father after a fatwa permitting the shedding of his blood. Do not take lightly what might happen and what they say.”

“They are sick,” she wrote on her Twitter account.

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