The United States State Department’s annual report on terrorism has said that while Egypt has struggled to combat terrorism, the country’s security services did have some success.
The State Department published its annual Country Reports on Terrorism on Thursday. The document provides individual reports for each country and aims to assess “the trends and events in international terrorism”. The reports also assess the efforts by countries to counter the threat of terrorism.
The report on Egypt noted all of the terrorist incidents that occurred inside Egypt during 2012. The report highlighted, “nearly all terrorist incidents involved attacks on security forces – Egyptian, Israeli, or international – guarding or monitoring the Sinai, its state infrastructure, and its border with Gaza and Israel”.
As the report stated, “while the National Security Sector… has struggled to fully understand and effectively combat terrorist threats, it has had some successes”. It provides two examples of this success, firstly the foiling of an Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist cell in Nasr City last October and the Ministry of Interior’s decision to increase security around the US embassy in Cairo during protests there in September.
The report highlights smuggling of weapons and explosives as an issue in Egypt, stating that “Egypt’s Northern Sinai region remained a transit route for smuggling arms and explosives into Gaza, as well as a base and transit point for Palestinian violent extremists”. The report said that the smuggling of “humans, weapons, cash, and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and Gaza supported criminal networks with possible ties to terrorist groups in the region”. The document also acknowledged that there were increased reports of the destruction of tunnels used for smuggling contraband into Gaza.
Weapons smuggling from Libya increased in 2012 following the fall of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, according to the report. It pointed out, “The security forces interdicted some of these arms”. The report added, “While it remained opposed to violent extremism, the Egyptian government largely focused its efforts on protecting official installations, restoring basic security, and ensuring a peaceful political transition”.
The report detailed that Egypt had continued its efforts to improve border security, which the US assisted with by providing scanning equipment and training for Egyptian officers, part of which involved a visit to the US-Mexican border in California. The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance programme also “provided training and equipment grants designed to meet needs and objectives specific to Egypt amid the country’s evolving political landscape”.
Egypt was also mentioned in the country report on Israel, The West Bank and Gaza, for the role it played in brokering a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in November 2012.