Egypt approves new anti-terror laws

A woman walks past an Egyptian policeman, who stands alert in Tahrir Square, Cairo. (AP)
Updated 03 March 2019
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Egypt approves new anti-terror laws

  • One of the latest key changes to legislation will see a tightening up of regulations surrounding the rental of property
  • It gives power to the police to temporarily close any premises where weapons have been manufactured or designed for use in terrorist crimes.

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has approved tough new laws to fight terrorism in the wake of recent deadly attacks in the country.

One of the latest key changes to the legislation will see a tightening up of regulations surrounding the rental of property.

Under current rules, anyone leasing furnished real estate in Egypt does not have to be officially registered as living there. However, in the future property owners will be required to inform police of the identities of tenants, even for short-term rental periods, and will face criminal penalties for failure to do so.

Dr. Mohammed Khalifa, a member of the legislative committee of the Egyptian Council of Representatives, told Arab News that terrorists often took advantage of the old regulations to rent furnished apartments and stay under the radar of the authorities.

“The owner of a property will now have to notify the police department in the form of a copy of the contract between the two sides, so that Egyptian security will have sufficient information about the citizens who rent the furnished apartments, even if only for short periods,” said Khalifa.

He said the amendment to the law was designed not to inconvenience the owners of rented apartments but to encourage them to interact with the police.

Other alterations to the government’s anti-terror legislation include giving the Egyptian Public Prosecution Office powers to temporarily close any premises where weapons have been manufactured or designed for use in terrorist crimes.

In addition, the Egyptian Parliament’s proposals and complaints committee has approved a law blocking organizations listed as terrorist groups from exercising their political rights.

MP Kamal Amer, head of the country’s National Defense and Security Committee in the House of Representatives, said that the government was constantly reviewing and amending laws to combat terrorism and confiscate the funds of armed organizations.

He stressed that Egypt had made significant strides in its war on terror through its legislative and security efforts. At the same time, it was working hard to tackle the root causes of extremism. 

In a recent speech at the first Middle East and North Africa Regional Conference titled “Strengthening International Cooperation in the Face of the Growing Threat of Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering Operations,” Egyptian Attorney General Nabil Sadiq said that his country had been focused on fighting terrorism since the beginning of the last century.

Sadiq said its strategy was based on information technology to track and intercept the financing of terrorist groups, which rely on funding from organized crime.


Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

Updated 1 min 30 sec ago
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Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

  • It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike
  • Western powers have been divided over a push by Khalifa Haftar’s forces to seize Tripol

TRIPOLI: Libya has reopened Tripoli’s only functioning airport, aviation authorities said on a post on social media on Sunday.

Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital, but a later Facebook post noted the arrival of an African Airlines aircraft from Istanbul.

A Reuters reporter and several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.

An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground.

It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district in the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Authorities closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 200 km to the east, remained open.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Muammar Qaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a US statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a cease-fire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli on Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 227 people and wounded 1,128, the World Health organization said before the air strikes.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.