Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Abductors’ threat

A terrorist group warns that the kidnapping of four leading labour officials will not be the last operation, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

The radical Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for last week’s abduction of four leaders of Egypt’s General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU). The Sinai-based terrorist group stated via its Twitter account that the kidnapping’s aim was to “urge the pagan regime to let free Islamist women jailed in prisons, otherwise, wait for more attacks!”

The four were kidnapped on 7 January on their way to the Red Sea coastal city of Sharm El-Sheikh, where a mass rally organised by the GFTU was due to be held two days later to support the new constitution, the vote over which was due to conclude yesterday. The federation said the workers’ vehicle was found in an abandoned area, while their money and belongings were left untouched.

GFTU is the largest union representing both farmers and labourers across the country. Its membership totals six million.

GFTU said that the head of the General Union of Tourism Mamdouh Mohamadi, General Secretary Mamdouh Mohamed, Deputy President of the Union Mohamed Guindi and First Undersecretary of the Ministry Mohamed Eissa were taken hostage by unidentified armed assailants in Oyoun Moussa, a few miles away from Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel under the Suez Canal that connects the Sinai Peninsula to the city of Suez.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) previously claimed responsibility for several terror attacks that hit Egypt since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi as president in July, including December’s deadly bombings that rocked the Daqahliya Security Directorate in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura that killed 16 and injured more than 130. It also claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt in September on the interior minister and several attacks targeting security headquarters and convoys.

In a video released on 1 December by the militant group, it proclaimed that the “war has yet to start”. The Jihadi group showed footage of victims of the violent police dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa Al-Adaweya which resulted in hundreds of deaths in August. Hence, the terrorist group is considered loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was only after the January 2011 Revolution that the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis publically declared its existence and claimed responsibility for repeatedly bombing the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipeline that extends across Sinai, calling its missions as being primarily against “the Zionist entity”. However, it said the group’s strategy was altered to confront the army and the police, following Morsi’s ouster and the subsequent “massacre of Muslims in Egypt”.

According to security experts, the abduction of the labour leaders is a means to pressure state authorities into easing the security operations against them in Sinai.

During a meeting held at the federation’s headquarters over the weekend, GFTU Chairman Abdel-Fattah Ibrahim wondered aloud about the government’s negative stance which “has not issued a statement yet about the kidnapping”.

Ibrahim called on civil society organisations, revolutionaries and political parties to take action before he chanted against the government. “We must purge the unions of the traitors who are responsible for this incident,” said Ibrahim.

Following the meeting, members called on the government to resign and “purify” the federation from “traitors and agents”.

Since last week Wednesday, the federation’s members in addition to officials said they will strike in their headquarters until kidnapped labour union leaders are released.

“It is disgraceful that my colleagues are kidnapped while we remain inactive,” Ibrahim said, adding that they would work continuously for their release.

“This villainous operation,” Ibrahim said, “aims at terrorising labourers before the vote on the constitution. However, we will not hesitate. On the contrary, it will motivate us more in mobilising for the participation in the referendum for a ‘yes’ vote.”

Minister of Manpower Kamal Abu Eita said security forces in South Sinai were working for the safety and the release of the abducted leaders. Addressing the militant group of Supporters of Jerusalem, he said: “Point your weapons to those who occupy your land and not to those who support your cause.”

“These terror attacks will greatly affect tourism which was starting to recover,” Abu Eita said in a telephone interview to the private TV channel Al-Hayat.

The World Federation of Trade Unions, claiming to represent 86 million workers worldwide, said in a statement that they denounced the “terrorist attack against the GFTU”.

 

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