Category Archives: English/Arabic

Question: Are Jihadi Groups On The Rise In Cairo?!

Yesterday morning the Egyptian news online portal of Al Masry Al Youm (AMAY), and other outlets such as the Washington Post,  reported through various links the killing of a terror suspect in a suburb of Cairo.

The Egypt Independent ran a translation of the piece by AMAY, worth having a look at. In another piece by CBS, an Egyptian official gives some details on what happened:

According to an Egyptian official, Hazem (Terror suspect) was cornered in an apartment and tried to throw a bomb at security

The explosion happened in the area highlighted in red. Al-Hay Al Asher (The 10th District), is a residential suburb east of Cairo.

forces, but the explosive device bounced back. CBS News reports that the man blew himself up during the clash.

Here is my question: Why are terrorist cells feeling comfortable to hide in Cairo with explosives and weapons? Additionally, if there is one cell, which is of high strategic importance to the US, that was uncovered in Cairo, how many other cells that are not so high on the strategic list that are just hanging out in the capital of Egypt?

In other news, AMAY also reported that there are increasing threats from terrorism cells in the Sinai peninsula, threats that involve carrying out attacks utilizing ‘car bombs.’  Regardless, all vigilant observers know that the situation in Sinai is contained to Sinai. However, is Cairo starting to enjoy increased comfort on the part of radicals, who are starting to view it as a safe zone?

I can’t help but think, why are there terror cells within the city limits of Cairo? How did Egypt get to that point where terrorists are in the capital with grenades and weapons?

A more analytical question I am proposing is, if this terror suspect, who was in some way related to the Benghazi American Consulate attack, and the slaying of the American Ambassador and other American Diplomats, was hiding in Cairo with explosives and other weapons, how many other terror cells are in the Greater Cairo areas?

Clearly there has been a shift in how the US is conducting business regarding its global effort to subdue radicals, and part of the shift has been more reliance on special ops, and drones (Barrack “the drone” Obama), and the continuation of cooperation with governments of allied nations.  This was clearly one of those cases of coordinated efforts, and this brings me to my second question.  Were Egyptian authorities pushed by the US administration to make a move on this guy, due to the urgency of the situation, while the Egyptian security forces are taking it easy and not chasing other terror cells in the capital?

It would be a major concern for the world, and more importantly for Egyptians if Egyptian authorities are becoming more easy going with terror-inclined groups and activities.  Unfortunately, I have no evidence to back my concerns, but I do not have evidence to quench them either.


Remembering the Maspero Massacre, October 9, 2011

October 9, 2011
Cairo, Egypt

Midday, October 9, 2011, I sat in my living room knowing that there will be protests at Maspero and knowingly stayed at home. For some reason I decided to stay in and finish some work.  A few days earlier a sit-in staged by Copts in front of the building was dispersed by force.

I recall seeing @Sarahngb’s tweets, she was at Maspero waiting for the Shubra march to make its way to the State TV building.  A bit later I received a call from my friend @RagySoliman, who was asking me what is going on at Maspero, I told him people are starting to gather there and that the march seems to be making its way from Shubra through Bolaq.  As we were on the phone, he was walking from the Nile Towers, where he worked, towards Maspero, when I starting reading tweets on my timeline reporting attacks on the march as it went through the Shubra tunnel. He hadn’t hung up yet, so I told him. Now recalling the phone call, I remember him taking a deep breath and saying I am going anyways. We exchanged well wishes and ended the phone call.

Sketch commemorating the Maspero Massacre, by @Elmoshir (twitter)

Minutes later, I saw @Sarahngb’s tweets reporting that a military unit has stopped her and demanded her ID, and that they have taken off with her passport, then a few minutes later she reported that they returned her passports. Within the same timeframe the march was arriving to Maspero. Thinking that all is well now, I stepped away from my computer to shower, five minutes later however, things were not all well. My twitter timeline was riddled with tweets of agony, fear and reports of horrific beatings by the military. Checking @Sarahngb’s timeline I saw that she reported that clashes have erupted, and that it is getting chaotic. Then there was a tweet from her with a bunch of incoherent letters. I knew something went terribly wrong.

As per the time of the extended Aftershocks (the months that followed the initial 18 days of January 25, 2011 that saw clashes between protesters and security forces) of the revolution, I had a backpack always ready, it contained a surgical medical kit, gloves, gas masks, cameras, extra phone, etc.  Within minutes this bag was on my back and I was in my car driving towards Maspero.

On my way there I was receiving frantic phone calls from friends, family and coworkers, who were asking what was going on.  On that day, the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) leadership, Muslims and Christians, had decided to join the peaceful stand at Maspero.  Effectively I personally knew no less than 10-15 people who were present at State TV building when the clashes erupted.  Two calls stood out though, the first was @Sarahngb returning my calls. She was alive and getting out towards Zamalek, she had ran after a beating she received from the military and was heading to @Sandmonkey’s place.  The second call was from @RagySoliman’s wife.  We had never spoke in person before over the phone, I had met her once in my life with her husband, and she was calling me frantically asking if I knew anything about her husband. After informing her that I had just spoken to him over the phone minutes before the clashes, I promised her I will not leave there before I find him, no matter what.

Blood at Night, Grief by Day | Maspero 9/10 الدماء و الأسى | ماسبيرو by @mosireen

22 minutes after leaving my place I was parked across the street from the Automobile club in downtown Cairo. With my backpack on my back, I was sprinting towards Maspero, through Abd El Monim Riad, my phone kept ringing and I answered the calls I could while panting through the run, until this point, mild smell of tear gas. Then I stopped at a sizable group of protesters under the October 6th Bridge, right across from the Hilton Ramsis, neighboring Maspero.  My phone rang, I recall it was some TV anchor from Al-Arabya and/or Orbit, he was asking me about the conditions at Maspero, and I kept trying to tell him that I am still looking for my friends and that I do not have a clear view of Maspero yet, however the situation is chaotic.  As I was hanging up I realized that I just walked in the cleared space between the protesters and the security forces.  In my frantic rush and being on the phone at the same time, I had wandered off to danger zone, as I pulled my phone off my ear, some trigger happy Central Security Forces soldier fired a tear gas canister at me, which hit my foot and stopped.  The gas overwhelmed me.  That is when @MR_MOST, some random kid who I helped jump off the fence earlier helped me out of the smoke, I recall he kept asking me: “Which news outlet are you with”, he was filming and thought I was a journalist as well.

We had never met before, but we stuck out the rest of the night together filming the clashes that lasted for hours.

After @MR_MOST pulled me back and I could catch my breath, I continued my search for Ragy, for about 30 minutes, when I received a call from a member of FEP, who told me Ragy was hurt, but alive, in a hospital in Mohandeseen, I was informed that @AhmedHassanSaid, who later became a MP of this very district was hurt the worst out of the FEP crew.

By then I was comforted that at least none of the people I knew to be there are dead, but for some reason I could not leave.

Most of the videos I shot were shot from the side of bystanders who were not very happy with the protesters, I did not try to stop what they were saying in fact I wanted to hear more, if you understand Arabic you can hear some of the commentary in the video I am posting for the first time below:

Within the course of the night I realized that I arrived after the initial clash, but the battle, the hate and the rock-throwing between the two sides continued for hours on the bridge and that some protesters were dragged away by opposing civilians with the help of riot police. Television broadcasts showed protesters pelting Central Security trucks with rocks and attempting to drag drivers out from inside. Reality of the matter however is that the CSF and Military Police (MP), along with hateful volunteers and secret police all were getting in on the action, they also threw rocks, they used excessive force, and never at any point were they trying to make the clashes stop.  Even when sit-in protesters from nearby Tahrir square tried to calm the situation down, the security forces side attacked with molotovs and electric tasers.  These are things I have seen with my own eyes.  The sound of tasers going off was echoing in the air.

Some Muslims had joined the protest, the violence took on a sectarian edge as the night continued. “Copts are running this way, they’re dogs, beat them.” Other bystanders argued in favor of the protesters, explaining the church burning.

In the midst of the chaos and dodging the random tear gas canisters and rock throwing that was reaching us over the October 6th bridge, I recall talking to @AbanoubEmad, we both asked if the other was ok, physically.  He comforted me that he was out of the clashes ok, and that now he is at the Coptic Hospital were the bodies of the victims are being held, then he told me the that he shot one of the most horrific videos of his life. This video is below:

For some reason, that call, and many others I was receiving made adamant on staying on site.  An hour or so later, @Sarahngb, @Sandmonkey, @ANassouf, and @ahmedkhairy5 came back for me because I would not leave.

Roughly around 11pm, we retreated to @Sandmonkey’s place in Zamalek. @ANassouf drove us there after we walked on the October 6th bridge over the Nile to his car, which was parked in Zamalek.

Meanwhile, @Cairowire called me as her group was stuck in Zamalek, and they did not know if they can make it back across the Nile. Eventually they made their way to @Sandmonkey’s place and @Cairowire, @jonsnyder and @kwiens helped me edit the video that was uploaded to wired magazine, and @CarterTroy wrote the description of the video remotely.

The @Sandmonkey residence was filled with mixed emotions, maybe two-three interviews going on at any given point about the clashes over cellphones, exhaustion, psychotic laughs of denial, some tears, short breath, the remnants of the tear gas smell, and the scrambling of computers and social media tools. While we were there, it was announced that the Maspero downtown area will have an imposed curfew until the morning.  My initial thought, that I did not verbalize at the moment was “a curfew to clean up the blood and the aftermath of the clashes, that makes sense” moments later I found out that the State TV apparatus was in fact claiming that the “unpatriotic” Copts were attacking the military, and was calling on “Honorable Citizens” to go to Maspero and land a hand to the security forces.  That curfew made more sense then.

Hours later we broke the curfew and saw the burnt cars close to the Coptic Hospital, there was a small gathering in front of the hospital, but we were on October 6th bridge, heading towards Heliopolis. We stopped for minutes, but then carried on.

Two nights later, at the Coptic Hospital in Cairo, there was the procession of the peaceful protesters who were ran over by military vehicles  shot, dragged and beaten to death


Live Gunfire on Galaa st. – Al-Ahram Newspaper building

At 5pm exacly (Cairo GMT +2), I was driving back from Zaky st, back to Zamalek, on Galaa st. right in front of Al-Ahram newspaper building, which for some reason I initially tweeted that it is Al-Gomhoreya newspaper building, on Ramsis st.

There was clearly a loud commotion in front of the building of Al-Ahram newspaper, hence I parked my car and stopped to see what is going on, at the time there was only Central Security Forces (CSF) present at the scene, and clearly there was an angry mob made out of a very few angry and determined individuals, who swore up and down that they will get the “guy” hiding in the building.

It was hard to figure out the real story, but what was conclusive was that a man was shot by a policeman (أمين شرطه) a man, who is a micro-bus driver, and then took refuge in Al-Ahram building, and the mob wanted to get a hold of him.  Now whether this man was initially in custody, or he committed a traffic violation and refused to comply it is unclear to me.

When I got there, there had already been some clashes between the mob and CFS, and they were going back and forth, with the usual breaks in between.  There was a surreal moment when one of the family/friends of the shot man jumped inside a parked bus, blocking the road and tried to run over CSF troops standing in formation.  He then backed up and the video below shows the tail end of that incident.

As seen in the video 3 military vehicles came in to support CSF and to try to get the policeman hiding within the building safely out.  Meanwhile, a man, who was also there supporting the mob, friend/family member of the shot man, was threatening to throw himself off the 6th of October bridge in protest to the killing of the man, and also because someone “Took his bus”, was not sure of what he was talking about.

After a while, Riot Military Police (RMP) reinforcements came to aid military forces.  Within a matter of minutes, the policeman was taken to safely to one of the armored military vehicles.  The military attempted to leave the location, but the mob, fairly at their angriest point.  One of the family/friends of the shot man, drove one of the buses and blocked the driveway of the military armored vehicles.

In the midst of the chaos a man got into the bus and moved it, and the commanding officer in charge of military units present gave an order, and he went into one of the armored vehicles and the immediately started firing a vast amount of assault rifle rounds into the the air.  It is worthy of noting that Galaa st. has the 6th of October bridge covering it.  While the military was shooting, they started moving their armored vehicles in relatively high speeds to get away from Al-Ahram building.

The mob continued chasing after the military vehicles, and the military continued firing.  I could see the bullets ricochet, of the bottom of the bridge, clear flashes of the rounds hitting the metal.  At that point I got into my car and was trying to make my way out of the chaos, driving in the same direction the military vehicles were making their getaway.  They continued to fire rounds off, in a fairly crowded area.  One woman fell to the ground right in front of my car and people started screaming.  Some asked me to drive her to the hospital, but then family members/companions picked her up and carried her across the street running.


In a Nutshell: Why I will NOT vote for these candidates

Since many of you have been asking me who am I going to be voting for in this upcoming presidential elections, my answer has been and still remains that I am one of the millions of undecided voters.  However, with that said, I can confirm that I will neither be boycotting the elections, nor will I be voting for a number of candidates who do not meet my minimum requirements.   Enclosed below a list of candidates I will not be voting for.

A quick note regarding boycotting
There are two types of persons who are boycotting the elections; type A – an individual who cannot find a candidate whom he or she truly supports, and hence the person chooses not to cast a vote.  The second type, type B – a person who boycotts because he or she does not approve of the conditions under which the elections are taking place, namely in our case, the SCAF invasion we live under.

While I can understand the logic behind the rational of type A, and even though I disagree with it, it is more acceptable to me than the irrationality of type B.  The type Bs of this fading republic choose to not vote to “record their positions” for historical purposes, avoiding any sense of realism and negating the realities which the vast portion of the Egyptian population face. Type Bs remind me of pandas in captivity, creatures who are too depressed about their conditions to procreate, to the point that they are going extinct.  Perhaps, there isn’t any scientific evidence that proves that pandas know that they are going extinct, maybe then they would reconsider their baby-making-boycott.  However, we have ample evidence to prove that if we do not stand our grounds in  future elections we will be ran over.

The main problem lies within the Islamic Political Movements (IPMs) of Egypt.  While IPMs now represent an elected majority, it still behaviorally acts (socio-politically) as a minority.  Meaning, what the leadership says, the followers do, to survive and fight outside influence of infidels (liberals, seculars, bastard revolutionary socialists, etc).  This eliminates the self-inflicted-calibration that makes democracies function properly.  Additionally boycotting, if conducted by any non-IPMs only magnifies the unity effect of IPMs.  Basically, without going into much details, if you are boycotting and you belong to any of the Godless-heathens, you might as well go vote for an IPM candidate and save us the pain of the slow-death of a two-round presidential election.

Candidates I will most definitely NOT vote for

For your convienince, a list of all the candidates, along with their electoral symbols, pictures, designated entry numbers, and political party affiliation is enclosed below the list of candidates I will NOT vote for:

Candidate no. 1, Al Hariri – You don’t want it bad enough, I do not even think you are campaigning anymore.

Candidates no. 2, 3, 7: Eissa, Khair Allah & Hossam – Unknown . . . !من أنتم؟ 

Candidate no. 5, Abu Al Fotouh – You are a flip-floper and in-the-closet IPM candidate, who panders to whoever needs be to get votes.  All that aside, you want to shut down Stella.  Out of my cold dead hands! No vote.

Candidate no. 6, Al Bastaweesy – **Little Secret, your base, Al Tagamu Party’s leadership is stiffing you and supporting another candidate**, you are a good man, but if you can’t keep your house in order, you would never get my vote.

Candidate no. 8, El Awah – “Islamic Thinker”, who’s only notable accomplishments are his attempts to discredit Salafi conservatism, no vote

Candidate no. 9, Shafiq – Scores of people died & and many more are permanently injured while he was PM, plus I don’t think that his greatest accomplishment, the Cairo International Airport,  is all that

Candidate no. 10, Sabbahi – Until this morning I was considering you, but, when I woke up this morning I realized how the “revolutionary-peer-pressure” was the only thing making me consider you. You are a Nasserite (cute), a man who praised Al-Qaeda (http://youtu.be/U4rVcEJfkFs), Sadam and Gaddafi . . . and you look like Jay Leno. We just can’t get along

Candidate no. 11, Al Ashaal – A man who had withdrawn to Al Shater of  the MB (http://youtu.be/CzXX-9EJRM4), then later on supported Morsi, also of the MB.  Not worthy of a vote

Candidate number 13, Morsi – Definitely won’t vote for a member the MB. Never liked fraternities, not in college, and definitely not now

اسم المتقدم الحزب السياسى الصورة الرمز
1 أبو العز حسن على الحريري
وشهرته أبو العز الحريرى
حزب التحالف الشعبي الاشتراكي الهرم
2 محمد عبد الفتاح محمد فوزى على عيسى
وشهرته محمد فوزى عيسى
حزب الجيل الديمقراطي كاميرا الفيديو
3 أحمد حسام كمال حامد خير الله
وشهرته حسام خير الله
حزب السلام الديمقراطي السيارة
4 عمرو محمود أبو زيد موسى
وشهرته عمرو موسى
مستقل الشمس
5 عبد المنعم أبو الفتوح عبد الهادى أبو سعد
وشهرته أبو الفتوح
مستقل الحصان
6 هشام محمد عثمان البسطويسي
وشهرته هشام البسطويسى
حزب التجمع الوطني التقدمي الوحدوي ساعة يد
7 محمود حسام الدين محمود جلال
وشهرته محمود حسام
مستقل النجمة
8 محمد سليم العوا
وشهرته محمد سليم العوا
مستقل المظلة
9 أحمد محمد شفيق زكي
وشهرته أحمد شفيق
مستقل السلم
10 حمدين عبد العاطي عبد المقصود صباحي
وشهرته حمدين صباحي
مستقل النسر
11 عبد الله حسن علي الأشعل
وشهرته عبد الله الأشعل
حزب الأصالة البلطة
12 خالد علي عمر علي المحلاوي
وشهرته خالد على
مستقل الشجرة
13 محمد محمد مرسي عيسى العياط
وشهرته محمد مرسي
حزب الحرية والعدالة الميزان

On the Anniversary of the Mansheyet Nasser Killings – في ذكرى أحداث منشآت ناصر

One year ago, at this very exact time, @Sarahngb, @hadytarek and I were wrapping up shooting interviews with victims of military gunfire.  Some of the earliest victims of the violations of the Egyptian military.

As the Christian minority, Copts, in Egypt were, at the time, rallying daily around the Maspero building to protest dismal

Map of Cairo's Districts: The red circle shows the general locations of the incidents

coverage of state controlled media of the discrimination the Coptic community faces in Upper Egypt and elsewhere, the youth of Mansheyet Nasser in El Mokatam area of Cairo, Egypt planned to join the protests.  As they started grouping to head out in small buses to Maspero on March 6, 2011, a fight broke out between them and residents of close by neighborhood.

The fight escalated to the point where the military came in to intervene.  At some point the military starting firing live ammunition that lead to the many deaths and countless injuries.  The video posted in this blog entry is a composition of a few interviews with some of the victims of that incident.  The videos were shot in a disclosed medical facility.  Some of the interviewed were in critical conditions, I never found out what happened to them.  After finishing an interview with one of the injured he made me promise that I carry the message of what happened out to the world.  After trying to deliver the videos to any news agency, CNN took them, but never aired them, and that is when I met @Repent11.

After attempts to translate them into English, but not having the time and failing, I will just repost the video in Arabic.  Feel free, if you have the time and resources to translate them, I can provide more details if needed.

 


Concerning My First Experience Inside Maspero

Two nights ago, on March 7, 2012, I was invited to speak on a live TV show regarding the selection criteria of the Egyptian Constitutional Committee (Link to the law proposal that I was representing), since this is this week’s hot issue at all.  The only problem is, the interview was on the Egyptian Satellite TV Station (الفضائية المصرية), which is part of the Egyptian Radio & Television Union (إتحاد الإذاعة و التلفزيون المصري), broadcasting from within the infamous Maspero building.

For the people who know me, you already know that I have been always a adamant opponent of everything that Maspero as an institution stands for.  Needless to say, I always talked and expressed my views on Maspero and the Egyptian propaganda machine on several occasions, and that is why many people I know were shocked that I accepted to go in there and be interviewed on the program.  Here are my reasons:

Curiosity Killed the Cat

For longest time I/we heard rumors about how Maspero is a maze on the inside, and about the hightened state of security within the building.  Also, we, the people who oppose the malpractices of that institution, are always curious about the humans who work inside.

It can’t be denied, there was a mild feeling of rush in my mind as I walked behind the barbed wire and into the building past the many military soldiers armed.  After entering and through the main gates I was escorted by a clerk though a swipe-card gate, where more military soldiers stood armed.

At the entrance of the studio there was a single military soldier standing guard with an assault rifle.  After the entering through the main doors of the studio, I was escorted to a waiting room. The air conditioning was too excessive (a non-issue obviously).

Waiting room inside Maspero

After a while, writer Nabil Zaky of Al-Tagamu party, came in, and we started chatting a bit.  The salafi MP Talaat Marzouk, also a guest on our show, came in, looked at us with his assistant and walked away, to sit in another section of the waiting room. Whatever.

Until Maspero goes down, we must make use of any chance to say what we have to say through it

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Egyptian State TV institution has such high viewership.  With that said, I still believe that Maspero is the shrine of control over the Egyptian people, and it has to be kept in check if not dismantled, but until this happens, any chance that people who oppose Maspero’s practices get to express their own ideas utilizing its wide reach should be taken advantage of.  It is in my own opinion that @Alaa Abd el Fattah interview on the Egyptian Satellite TV station on January 27, 2012 is one of the gains of the January 25 movement.

Some people might disagree, but I personally think that this is not a revolution against a regime, I am more include to believe that this is a revolution of a generation, which is the majority against the older generation ruling it, the minority.

Here is the full interview (Arabic):