Saturday, March 12, 2011
CAIRO—Hundreds of Islamic radicals escaped from prison during the Egyptian uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak last month.
Now, protesters are pressing for the release or civilian retrial of the country's remaining political prisoners—including, to the alarm of U.S. officials, militants involved in scores of terror attacks.
In a narrative taking hold among Egypt's new revolutionaries, these al Qaeda-affiliated militants are seen as having been pushed to violence by the excesses of the overthrown dictatorship. Now, these people say, the militants represent no threat to the future democracy.
"They are victims—what they have done is a reaction to torture," said Wael Abbas, one of the prominent youth campaigners behind the demonstrations on Cairo's Tahrir Square that precipitated Mr. Mubarak's downfall.
Khaled Dweik, who has helped run the tent city that until Wednesday hosted protesters, agreed. "Terrorism is impossible in Egypt now," he said. "If you have repression or injustice, people either go kill others or kill themselves. But if they have freedom, they express their creativity and help build their country."
Many of the Islamist prisoners in Egypt belong to Gamaa Islamiyya, a movement that was responsible for killing hundreds of foreign tourists, policemen and secular intellectuals, in addition to involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York. Gamaa Islamiyya was, along with Ayman al Zawahri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a founding member of al Qaeda. Several Gamaa Islamiyya leaders have renounced violence over the past decade.
Some 500 prisoners jailed for links to Gamaa Islamiyya have already been set free in two batches over the past two weeks, said Montasser Zayat, a former Gamaa Islamiyya activist who is now an attorney representing Islamist detainees.
"The euphoria of the popular revolution shouldn't make us Pollyannaish about the reality of terrorism," said Juan Zarate, the U.S. deputy national-security adviser for combating terrorism from 2005 to 2009. "Al Qaeda is trying to take advantage of the events on the ground. One of the primary concerns of the U.S. government is to find out which hard-core jihadis have escaped, and which role could they play in the reinvigoration of al Qaeda's presence in Egypt."
The U.S. government has raised the issue of past and potential releases of dangerous militants with Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, officials say. The Egyptian military didn't respond to requests to comment.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said the U.S. is concerned about the prisoner releases and is monitoring the situation closely. He added, however, that the U.S. hasn't seen evidence that any of the released Islamists have resumed militant activities.
Israel is concerned about Hamas militants who escaped and made their way home to the Gaza Strip. An Israeli official said those escapees, believed to number at least six, represent a threat to Israel. He said Israel expected Egypt to continue its longstanding cooperation to curb the flow of weapons from Egypt to Gaza—a Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas, which hasn't renounced violence against the Jewish state. The Israeli official said the fate of Islamic radicals still imprisoned in Egypt is an internal Egyptian issue. "It's very delicate," he said. "We're not voicing any demands."
Shadi Hamid, head of research at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, said the military would balk at freeing the most hardened militants. "The last thing the military wants is people who believe in the use of violence to be free," he said. "I don't think it's something we have to worry too much about."
The military has assented to other recent protester demands, however, including heeding their call to replace Egypt's prime minister and allowing protesters to enter state security offices to look through documents.
Under Mr. Mubarak, who was the target of an Islamist assassination attempt, the country's vast state security apparatus, known in Arabic as Amn al Dawla, harshly repressed the Islamist militancy, often torturing suspects and rounding up entire families. The country's emergency laws—in effect since Islamists gunned down Mr. Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, in 1981—allowed the suspects to be held without trial for years. Those who were eventually convicted usually received their sentences from military courts.
The U.S. took advantage of this after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, renditioning to Egypt scores of terrorism suspects.
"There is no justification for terrorism. But if these people were subjected to torture, and tried in special tribunals where normal standards of evidence do not apply, they should be retried again in a civilian court," said Khaled Hamza, an activist with the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that actively participated in the uprising against Mr. Mubarak and decades ago renounced violence.
State security offices in Cairo and other cities where such evidence would have been held have been overrun in recent days. Many files were allegedly shredded by state security officials before they abandoned the buildings. Protesters entered the buildings in a bid to secure some of the documents. Dozens have since been posted on Facebook.
Some of the documents appear authentic. But activists say others look like crude forgeries that aim to advance new agendas. In a reflection of conspiracy theories swirling through Egypt, one purportedly shows that state security itself orchestrated some of the biggest terror attacks, including the 2005 bombing of tourist hotels that killed some 80 people in the Sinai peninsula. Other documents purport to prove that state security was behind the bombings of Christian churches.
"One of the political goals of the corrupt regime was to sow division between Muslims and Christians so it could rule over the people," said Fathi Abdel-Rahman, another leader of the protest camp on Tahrir Square who spent five years behind bars as a suspected Islamist. "No one who is in prison now bombed anything. They all are innocent victims of the previous system and should be released immediately."
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Egyptians demand secret police give up torture secrets
The headquarters of the Egyptian State Security Services in Cairo is an impenetrable concrete fortress of thick walls and turrets, its main building menacing and imposing.
People used to be intimidated just walking past it, but the myth and mystery of the horrors committed within are now out in the open - the latest stage of Egypt's continuing revolution.
The army has tanks and armoured cars outside after taking custody of the building and the thousands of documents inside which many people believe will reveal the truth behind the activities of the state security service.
After driving out a president and a prime minister, the protesters who have spent much of the past six weeks out on the streets, have now turned their attention to the feared secret police.
Its buildings have been raided across the country and the main headquarters in Cairo's Nasr City was no exception.
Hundreds of people gathered outside - many of them former prisoners who were held here on spurious charges and tortured before being imprisoned for many years.
They pounded the doors, surging forward and the army relented, letting them into the vast grounds and the buildings inside.
"It was extremely creepy," said Hossam Hamalawy, who was one of the first inside. He and others filmed their extraordinary raid on one of the most feared buildings in Egypt.
"We managed to find tonnes of documents inside and also underground prison cells. It was like a maze going down eight floors."
The demonstrations had focused on state security buildings in Alexandria on Friday as rumours spread the police were burning and shredding documents.
Inside the Cairo headquarters that's just what they found - destroyed papers seen as an attempt to destroy evidence of human rights abuses and corruption.
"Mubarak's base of support and his main tool and weapon against dissidents and the Egyptian people in general had been state security police over the past 30 years," Hossam Hamalawy said.
"We wanted to storm those facilities to assure everybody we are in control, not the regime's figures anymore."
There was an emotional scene as a torture device of metal poles and electricity transformers was brought out of the building. From his own experience one of the protesters demonstrated how it was used.
It is not difficult to find people who were tortured by the enforcers of President Hosni Mubarak's state.
They are now able to talk about their experiences - both victims and perpetrators.
Three serving secret policemen spoke to the BBC - now willing to speak, if not identified.
"I witnessed torture while serving in a police station in southern Egypt," one said.
“Start Quo"I heard
"She said she would admit anything as long as he stopped."
They said they had been told to intimidate people during the election and to stop them voting for the opposition.
"There were many methods of torture," one of the policemen said. "Beating and whipping, hanging in the air for long periods of time, cuffing up their hands and legs, using electric sticks and burning their bodies with cigarettes and depriving them of sleep or food."
At a small office in downtown Cairo, Dr Mona Hamed, a psychiatrist, nodded and said yes, she had heard many terrible stories.
The El Nadim Centre is an organisation which provides treatment and rehabilitation of the victims of violence and torture.
"Torture is a widespread, systematic, routine policy in Egypt through the last 30 years. It is everywhere and in every place in Egypt," said Dr Hamed.
She introduced me to one of her clients - an Imam jailed twice in the past 10 years and tortured incessantly every day for a month.
He described how he was stripped, had his hands and legs tied to a chair, how he was beaten and given electric shocks all over his body, especially his genitals.
They accused him of being a terrorist, but after a month released him, only to re-arrest him two years later and to do it all over again.
"This is revenge from Allah," he said. "They thought they were Gods no-one could touch. Now we can live without fear."
People want an end to the State Security Services because they symbolise the worst human rights abuses of the former regime.
The new interim government has to decide what concessions it gives the protesters and where it draws the line.
Reconciling with and breaking from the past is just one of the challenges in post-revolution Egypt.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
* Those who prefer to live amongst Non-Muslims because of their affection for them;
* Those who live amongst non-Muslims yet ignore their obligation to denounce disbelief;
* And those who live amongst the non-Muslims but uphold their obligation to denounce disbelief.
The first group: stays amongst the disbelievers by choice and inclination, they praise and commend them, and are happy to disassociate themselves from the Muslims. They help the disbelievers in their struggle against the Muslims in any way they can, physically, morally, and financially. Such people are disbelievers, their position is actively and deliberately opposed to religion. Allah says,
The believers shall not take the disbelievers as allies in preference to the believers. Whoever does this shall never be helped by Allah in any way 
At-Tabari remarks that such a person would have washed his hands of Allah, and that Allah would have nothing to do with a person who actively rejects Him and denies His Religion. Allah , says:
0 you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as protectors, they are protectors of one another, whoever takes them as protectors is one of them.
Then, in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "Whoever joins the,disbelievers and lives amongst them is one of them'
Abdullah Ibn Omar said: "Whoever settles amongst the disbelievers, celebrates their feasts and joins in their revelry and dies in their midst will likewise be raised to stand with them on the Day of Resurrection.  .
Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned that in the case of a Muslim whose people remained bound to disbelief and followed the enemies of Islam, he too would become a disbeliever if he refused to abandon his people, just because he found it difficult. He would end up fighting against the Muslims alongside his nation, with his money and life. And if they were to order him to marry his father's wife, but could not prevent that unless he migrates from his country, he would be forced to marry her. His alliance and participation with them in their campaign against Islam and their struggle against Allah and His Messenger is far worse than marrying his father's wife. He is also a disbeliever, about whom Allah has said:
You will find others who hope for your protection, and for that of their own people. But whenever they are sent to temptation, they yield thereto. If they do not withdraw from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you may find them. In their case, We have given you a clear warrant against them. 
The second group: are those who remain amongst the disbelievers because of money, family or homeland. He does not demonstrate a strong attachment to his religion (Islam), nor does he emigrate. He does not support the disbelievers against the Muslims, whether in word or deed. His heart is not bound to them, nor does he speak on their behalf. Such a person is not considered a disbeliever merely because he continues to live among the disbelievers, but many would say that he has disobeyed Allah and His Messenger by not going to live among the Muslims, even though he may secretly hate the disbelievers. Allah has said,
Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory to them), they (angels) asked them, "In what condition were you?". They replied, "We were weak and oppressed on earth". The Angels asked, "Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to migrate therein?"
Such men will find their abode in Hell - what an evil destination!”
Ibn Kathir remarks: They were (wronging themselves) by refusing to emigrate. He continues by saying that this verse establishes a general rule which applies to anyone who is prevented from practising his religion, yet willingly remains among the disbelievers. There is no disagreement among the scholars, and the sources all state that this course of action is prohibited. 
Al-Bukhari relates that Ibn Abbas said that this verse was about "Some people from among the Muslims who stayed with the Pagans of Makkah, swelling their ranks, in the days of the Prophet. When fighting broke out some of them were killed and some wounded. Then Allah revealed the verse:
(Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves)”
Whatever excuses they may have offered were rejected by the revelation,
Say, 'If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kinsmen, the wealth which you have acquired, the commerce in which you fear a decline, or the houses you love - if these are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (Torment). Allah does not guide those who are AI-Faasiqun.
Anyone who refuses to emigrate uses one of these eight excuses. But these excuses have already been rejected by Allah, Who has said that those who make such claims are disobedient to Him, and this was specifically with regard to those who chose to remain in Makkah which is the holiest place on earth. Allah required the believers to quit this place, and even love for it was not an acceptable excuse for refusal. How would such an excuse fare then for places other than Makkah? 
The third group: are those who may remain among the disbelievers without impediment, and they are two categories:
1. Those who are openly able -to proclaim their religion and dissociate themselves from disbelief. When they are able, they clearly disassociate themselves from the disbelievers and tell them openly that they are far from truth, and that they are wrong. This is what is known as 'Izhar ad-Din' or 'assertion of Islam'. This is what exonerates a person from the obligation to emigrate. As Allah has said: (Say, "0 Disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship and you are not worshipers of what I worship.. ).
Thus, Muhammad (peace be upon him), was commanded to tell the disbelievers of their clear disbelief and that their religion was not the same, nor was their worship, nor what they worshipped. That they could not be in the service of Allah, so long as they remained in the service of falsehood. He was commanded to express his satisfaction with Islam as his religion and his denial of the faith of the disbelievers. Allah SWT says:
Say (0 Muhammad): "0 mankind! If you are in doubt about my religion (Islam), then know that I do not worship what you worship besides Allah, rather I worship Allah Who causes you to die, and I am commanded to be among the believers. And (it is inspired to me): Direct your face (0 Muhammad) towards the religion Hanifan (Islamic Monotheism), and never be one of the Mushrikeen. 
Therefore, Whoever does this is not obliged to emigrate.
Asserting one's religion does not mean that you simply leave people to worship whatever they please without comment, like the Christians and the Jews do. It means that you must clearly and plainly disapprove of what they worship, and show enmity towards the disbelievers; failing this there is no assertion of Islam.
2. Those who live amongst the disbelievers, and have not the means to leave nor the strength to assert themselves, have a license to remain. Allah SWT, says,
Except for the weak ones among men, women and children who are unable to devise a plan, nor to direct their way.
But the exemption comes after a promise to those who remain among the disbelievers, that,
Such men will find their abode in Hell - What an evil destination!
It is an exemption to those who could not devise a plan nor find any other way out. Ibn Kathir remarks: "These were people who could not rid themselves of the disbelievers, and even had they been able to do so, they would not have been able to direct their way" 
And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help'
So in the first verse, Allah swt mentions their situation, their weakness and inability to find any way to extricate themselves, and in the second, He mentions their plea to Allah to deliver them from their oppressors and to give them a protector, a helper and guide to victory. For these people Allah swt says:
For these there is hope that Allah will forgive them, and Allah is Ever Oft-Pardoning, OftForgiving.
Al-Baghawi commented that: "A Muslim who becomes a captive of the disbelievers must flee, if he is able, as he would not be permitted to remain under them. If they make him give his word that he would not run away if they were to release him, he should give them his word, but then he must try to escape; there would be noguilt upon him for his lie, since they had obligated him themselves. But if he had given them his promise, in order to ingratiate them to himself, he would be obliged to escape, just the same, but must also offer penance for his wilful deception of their trust"
The rulings about travel to disbelieving countries (Dar ul-Harb) for purposes of trade are broadly detailed. If you are able to assert your faith, while not supporting the disbelievers, then this is permitted. Indeed, some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) travelled to some countries of disbelievers in search of trade, among them Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not prevent them from this, as Imam Ahmad points out in his Musnad and elsewhere. 
If you are unable to assert your religion or avoid supporting them, then it is not permitted to venture amongst them for trading purposes. The subject has been addressed by the scholars and the relevant support for their position will be found in the Prophet's Ahaadeeth. Allah has required all believers to uphold their faith and to oppose the disbelievers. Nothing is allowed to undermine or interfere with these obligations.
While this is quite clear from many different sources, we still find a carefree attitude among many Muslims today with regard to this subject. The forming of friendships with those who are rightly our enemies, and establishing communities in their countries has been trivialised. Remarkably, some Muslims even send their children to the West to study Islamic Law and Arabic in European and American universities! This will stand as an absurd monument to the foolishness of those Muslims of the twentieth century, who sent their children to the disbelievers to study Islamic Law and Arabic!
Our scholars have warned us enough of the dangers which these questions raise, and they have carefully explained the perils of such educational exchanges, and of the desire of the disbelievers to corrupt the minds of our youth to turn them away from Islam, so we should take time to consider what we are doing. 
'Al Wala' wa'l Bara' Sheikh Muhammad Sa'eed Al Qahtani
Monday, March 7, 2011
and Egypt's Stock Market does not Open:
The People’s Revolt… the Fall of the Corrupt Arab Regime… the Demolishment of the Idol of Stability… and the New Beginning By Sheikh Atiyyatullah
I know that rhymes are not able by themselves to topple the thrones of the tyrants
But I tan its skin with that which tan the skins of livestock
When its time comes and it passes away and I take it from the hands of the barefoot
it becomes a skin prepared to make shoes out of them.