Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1383, (1 - 7 March 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1383, (1 - 7 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Abul-Fotouh faces terrorism charges

The political career of former presidential candidate and head of the Strong Egypt Party Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh is over, writes Gamal Essam El-Din  


On Sunday Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek ordered that the assets of Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and 15 others be frozen for alleged ties with the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In a statement the prosecutor’s office said, “the freeze order was issued in line with lawsuit 440/2018 filed by the High State Security Prosecution against Abul-Fotouh, and with the 2015 law regulating terrorist entities and activities [Law 8/2015].”

The moves against Abul-Fotouh began two weeks ago, following his return from London on 14 February. The High State Security Prosecution ordered Abul-Fotouh’s detention for 15 days pending investigations into charges which include holding secret contacts in London with officials of the banned Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of destabilising the country in the run-up to this month’s presidential election. On 26 February Abul-Fotouh’s detention was renewed for an additional 15 days.

On 20 February Sadek ordered Abul-Fotouh’s name, and the names of 15 others, be added to the terrorist list.

“The terrorist designation followed a request from State Security prosecutors after investigations showed Abul-Fotouh and others led and joined a group established in violation of the law with the aim of harming the interests of the Egyptian state,” said a statement issued by the prosecution.

The asset freeze order described Abul-Fotouh as a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood and added the names of Maha Azzam, the head of the so-called Egyptian Revolutionary Council who work at the Chatham House think tank in London, and Mahmoud Ezzat, the London-based acting Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide, to the terrorism list. Under Egypt’s Terrorist Entities Law individuals placed on the list are banned from travel and automatically face an assets freeze. The designation can be appealed.

On 21 February the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying six members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been arrested at a farm in Beheira governorate owned by Abul-Fotouh.

According to the statement the detainees, wanted in several terrorism-related cases, were found in possession of two rifles and other weapons.

“Security forces are still searching for two other Brotherhood members who offered refugee at the farm on Abul-Fotouh’s orders,” the statement said.

Abul-Fotouh’s family denies the accusations and say he does not own a farm in Beheira. 

Further details of the charges against Abul-Fotouh emerged on 23 February. He is accused of making contacts with Amr Darrag, the person responsible for coordinating Muslim Brotherhood activities in the Arab world and Europe, while in London.

A statement listing the accusations said: “Darrag pays Western media organisations and political think tanks to polish the image of the Muslim Brotherhood and tarnish the image of the regime of President Al-Sisi.” Abul-Fotouh is also accused of meeting with Yehia Moussa, the fugitive Brotherhood official convicted in Egypt of orchestrating the assassination of former prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat. “Abul-Fotouh also visited Switzerland and Italy recently where he met with fugitive Brotherhood officials including billionaire Youssef Nada,” said the statement.

According to the Interior Ministry the six armed men arrested at Abul-Fotouh’s farm confessed they were planning a series of terrorist attacks ahead of the presidential poll. The attacks were to be coordinated with Abul-Fotouh who received orders from the Brotherhood while he was in London to prepare groups to carry out attacks that would disrupt the poll.

“The armed group included two brothers who were able to flee arrest,” said the Interior Ministry. “They are the ones who coordinated in person with Abul-Fotouh. Each member of the group was paid LE5,000 a month by Abul-Fotouh who promised them more in case the event of successful bomb attacks.”

Political analysts agree Abul-Fotouh’s London visit marked his undoing. He was a regular visitor to other European capitals, and on his return never faced security measures.

“It is clear that in London, the Brotherhood’s international base, Abul-Fotouh crossed a red line,” says Said Hassaseen, a media analyst and MP. “In addition to secret contacts with Muslim Brotherhood officials he gave interviews that were highly critical of the government and of President Al-Sisi in person.”

“In London, which has become a hotbed of Islamist extremists, anti-Arab satellite channels and leading Muslim Brotherhood activists, Abul-Fotouh uncovered his true face — he is still a Brotherhood loyalist and operative.”

Abul-Fotouh gave interviews to two Qatari-funded channels, Al-Jazeera Mubasher and Al-Araby, and to the BBC. “All of these London-based media outlets focus on targeting President Al-Sisi in particular, trying to foment chaos in Egypt,” says Hassaseen.

“Abul-Fotouh’s visit to London shows just how influential the Muslim Brotherhood has become in the UK. The concentration of leading Brotherhood activists and hostile media channels in London shows clearly the banned group has chosen the UK capital as the headquarters of its international office and a centre for spreading chaos in the Arab world.”

Samir Sabri, a lawyer who filed a lawsuit against Abul-Fotouh, told Al-Ahram newspaper “the prosecution’s recent moves against Abul-Fotouh suggest he will soon face trial on terrorism-related charges”.

“After freezing his assets, placing him on the terrorism list and accusing him of plotting terrorist activities, Abul-Fotouh’s appearance in court is the next step,” said Sabri. “And this will naturally lead to the Strong Egypt Party he founded being dissolved.”

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