Hunt for backers of ‘sleeper cell’ militants who fled Egypt for Kuwait

In this July 25, 2013 picture, Muslim Brotherhood supporters hold camp at an enclave in Cairo, Egypt after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. A militant cell linked to the banned group that was suspected to have escaped from Egypt and set up operations in Kuwait. (AP file photo)
Updated 14 July 2019

Hunt for backers of ‘sleeper cell’ militants who fled Egypt for Kuwait

  • Gang linked to Muslim Brotherhood arrested in raids by Kuwait’s security services
  • “It is now clear that these militant cells are being supported by Qatar and Turkey," says a Saudi political analyst

JEDDAH/CAIRO: Security chiefs launched an investigation on Saturday to find out how a militant cell linked to the banned Muslim Brotherhood escaped from Egypt and set up operations in Kuwait.

The militants were arrested on Friday in a series of raids by Kuwaiti security forces. A special unit of Kuwait’s Interior Ministry uncovered the cell, identified the locations of its members and detained them in a special operation.

The ministry said all those arrested were wanted by the security services in Egypt. They had evaded Egyptian authorities, and made Kuwait the center of their operations, the ministry said.

After initial investigations, the militants admitted carrying out terrorist operations and breaching security in Egypt. Inquiries are continuing, to find out who helped them flee Egypt, and cooperated with them in Kuwait.

There are large number of Muslim Brotherhood members living “under the radar” in several Arab countries, the Egyptian lawyer Tharwat Al-Kharbawi, an expert on Islamist groups, told Arab News.

Some use illegal passports acquired before the Egyptian security authorities issued orders to prevent them from traveling, he said.

Al-Kharbawi appealed to Arab security services to “wake up and arrest these cells,” to avoid “the devastation the Muslim Brotherhood cause wherever they go.”

The arrests in Kuwait will prompt the leaders of the group in Turkey and London to consider changing their concealment strategy, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ghabari, former director of the National Defense College in Egypt and a security expert at the Nasser Military Academy.

“The Brotherhood believed that by fleeing Egypt they were safe,” he said. “But what happened in Kuwait may change their methodology, and encourage those who committed acts of violence to return to Egypt to hand themselves over to the Egyptian authorities.”

Al-Ghabari said the Egyptian security services were still investigating Muslim Brotherhood terrorist operations in Egypt, and the search continued for the perpetrators, including those who had fled abroad.

Terrorists had been taking advantage of the spread of freedom in Kuwait and abused it to their advantage, the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“Arresting these terrorists is a step in the right direction and sends a strong message to those who think they can continue to spread their terrorist ideologies on Kuwaiti soil,” he said.

“It is now clear that these militant cells are being supported by Qatar and Turkey. Qatar provides the funds, along with a media platform like Al Jazeera, while Turkey uses them as a mouthpiece to expand its influence in the region.”


Sudanese celebrate transition to civilian rule

Updated 17 August 2019

Sudanese celebrate transition to civilian rule

  • Members of the Transitional Military Council and protest leaders signed the documents that will govern the 39-month transition
  • Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir is leading Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the ceremony

KHARTOUM: Sudan's main opposition coalition and the ruling military council on Saturday signed a final agreement for a transitional government.
The agreement was signed in the presence of regional and international dignitaries including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. 
During a ceremony that was held at a hall by the Nile in the capital Khartoum, members of the Transitional Military Council and protest leaders signed the documents that will govern the 39-month transition.
“Today, the country begins its historic transition to democracy,” read the front page of the Tayar newspaper, a headline echoed by most other dailies.
But the road to democracy remains fraught with obstacles, even if the mood was celebratory as foreign dignitaries as well as thousands of citizens from all over Sudan converged for the occasion.
The deal reached on August 4 — the Constitutional Declaration — brought an end to nearly eight months of upheaval that saw masses mobilize against president Omar Al-Bashir, who was ousted in April after 30 years in power.
The agreement brokered by the African Union and Ethiopia was welcomed with relief by both sides — protesters celebrated what they see as the victory of their “revolution,” while the generals took credit for averting civil war.
Hundreds of people boarded a train from the town of Atbara — the birthplace of the protests back in December — on Friday night, dancing and singing on their way to the celebrations in Khartoum, videos shared on social media showed.
“Civilian rule, civilian rule,” they chanted, promising to avenge the estimated 250 allegedly killed by security forces during the protests.

The Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir led Saudi Arabia’s delegation at the ceremony in Khartoum, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Al-Jubeir is being accompanied by the Saudi Minister of State for African affairs Ahmed Abdul Aziz Kattan and the Saudi ambassador to Sudan Ali bin Hassan Jafar.

Saudi Arabia has and will continue to support everything that guarantees Sudan’s security and stability, Al-Jubeir said at the ceremony.

“We look forward to the Sudanese fortifying the partnership agreement and combatting foreign interference.”

Al-Jubeir also said that Saudi Arabia actively participated in supporting efforts to reach the agreement in Sudan.

After Saturday’s signing, Sudan kicks off a process that includes important first steps.
The composition of the civilian-majority transition ruling council is to be announced on Sunday.
On Thursday, former senior UN official Abdalla Hamdok, a veteran economist, was designated as transitional prime minister.
He is expected to focus on attempting to stabilize Sudan’s economy, which went into a tailspin when the oil-rich south seceded in 2011 and was the trigger that sparked the initial protests.
At Khartoum’s central market early Saturday, shoppers and stallholders interviewed by AFP all said they hoped a civilian government would help them put food on the table.
“Everybody is happy now,” said Ali Yusef, a 19-year-old university student who works in the market to get by.
“We were under the control of the military for 30 years but today we are leaving this behind us and moving toward civilian rule,” he said, sitting next to tomatoes piled directly on the ground.
“All these vegetables around are very expensive but now I’m sure they will become cheaper.”
While it remains to be seen what changes the transition can bring to people’s daily lives, residents old and young were eager to exercise a newfound freedom of expression.
“I’m 72 and for 30 years under Bashir, I had nothing to feel good about. Now, thanks to God, I am starting to breathe,” said Ali Issa Abdel Momen, sitting in front of his modest selection of vegetables at the market.
But many Sudanese are already questioning the ability of the transitional institutions to rein in the military elite’s powers during the three-year period leading to planned elections.
The country of 40 million people will be ruled by an 11-member sovereign council and a government, which will — the deal makes clear — be dominated by civilians.
However, the interior and defense ministers are to be chosen by military members of the council.
Observers have warned that the transitional government will have little leverage to counter any attempt by the military to roll back the uprising’s achievements and seize back power.
Saturday’s official ceremony is to be attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and several other regional leaders.
Security forces deployed across the city for the biggest international event to be held in a long time in Sudan, which had become something of a pariah country under Bashir’s rule.
One of the most immediate diplomatic consequences of the compromise reached this month could be the lifting of a suspension slapped on Sudan by the African Union in June.
Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in the Darfur region, had been slated to appear in court Saturday on corruption charges.
But his trial has been postponed to an as yet undetermined date.