The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on
Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organization after accusing
it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16
The Brotherhood on Tuesday condemned the attack in the Nile Delta
city of Mansoura, north of Cairo. Earlier on Wednesday, a Sinai-based Islamist
group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attack that also
wounded some 140 people.
The government’s move gives authorities the
power to charge any member of deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s movement with
belonging to a terrorist group, as well as anyone who finances the group or
promotes it “verbally or in writing.”
The Brotherhood, which was founded
in 1928, was Egypt’s best-organized political force until this summer’s
crackdown. It estimates its membership at up to 1 million people.
Brotherhood terrorist designation is not a big surprise, and it is important
because it gives the security forces the possibility to arrest its members very
easily and keep them incarcerated indefinitely,” said Zvi Mazel, who served as
Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt and today is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center
for Public Affairs and a contributor to this newspaper.
Brotherhood does not want to stop the resistance and it must go on,” Mazel told
The Jerusalem Post. “If they admit defeat, they will disappear from the
political scene. They have invested much effort and millions of dollars to reach
their goal and gain power after more than 80 years.”
They also know that
they cannot mobilize people for mass demonstrations, so the attacks by the
jihadists are helping the Brothers destabilize the country in order to bring the
Islamists back to power, he asserted.
Furthermore, the voting for the
constitutional referendum might not be possible if there are many terrorist
attacks, as it will disturb the government’s campaign to hold elections, he
There exists a lot of testimony that Hamas and Hezbollah members
were present during the protests that helped bring down president Hosni Mubarak
in 2011, said Mazel.
The government had said it would take harsh measures
following Tuesday’s attack, which would not stop movement on its political road
map, whose first step before elections is a constitutional referendum due to be
held next month.
The army deposed Morsi in July following mass protests
against his rule.
The government decision is the latest step in a
crackdown that has put thousands of Brotherhood supporters in jail, including
most of the group’s top leadership.
Hundreds of Morsi supporters have
been killed in the crackdown by security forces, and the group has already been
banned by a court that ordered its assets to be seized.
downfall, at least 350 members of the security forces have been killed in
bombings and shootings.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, meaning “Supporters of
Jerusalem,” has claimed responsibility for a number of the attacks since Morsi’s
downfall, including a failed bid to kill the interior minister in
In its statement claiming responsibility for the Mansoura
attack, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis blamed the army-backed government for fighting
“Islamic legitimacy” and spilling the blood of “oppressed
Following Tuesday’s attack, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi
described the Brotherhood as a terrorist group; Wednesday’s move formalizes the
“All of Egypt... was terrified by the ugly crime that the
Muslim Brotherhood group committed by blowing up the building of the Dakahlyia
security directorate,” an emailed statement from the interim government’s
cabinet office said. “The cabinet decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood
group a terrorist organization.”
It reiterated past accusations against
the group, including that it tortured people at its protest camps set up after
Morsi’s ouster and attacked churches.
In the past week, Morsi and other
top Brotherhood leaders have been charged with terrorism and plotting with
foreign groups against Egypt, crimes that can carry the death penalty.