Rising Out of Chaos: The Islamic State in Libya

Article of THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2015

Recent attacks in Libya by the so-called Islamic State, including the brutal slaughter of Egyptian Copts, the Corinthia Hotel attacks, car bombings in Qubbah that killed at least 45 people, and an attack on the Iranian embassy, have brought the spread of extremism in Libya to the forefront. While the Islamic State has intensified its activity in recent weeks, its spread into Libya began early in 2014 as Libyan jihadists began to return from Syria.

Jihadi groups in Libya were already deeply fragmented and localized, but the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in 2013 and 2014 sparked new debates,eventually dividing the Libyan jihadis between supporters of the Islamic State and supporters of al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates—mainly al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North Africa and the Nusra Front in Syria.

DERNA’S SYRIAN CONNECTION

Libyans had already begun traveling to fight in Syria in 2011, joining existing jihadi factions or starting their own. In 2012, one group of Libyans in Syria declared the establishment of the Battar Brigade in a statement laden with anti-Shia sectarianism. The Battar Brigade founders also thanked “the citizens of Derna,” a city in northeastern Libya long known as a hotbed of radical Islamism, for their support for the struggle in Syria.

Later, the Battar Brigade fighters in Syria would pledge loyalty to the Islamic State, and fight for it in both Syria and Iraq, including against its al-Qaeda rivals. In April 2014, the Battar Brigade announced the “martyrdom” of 25 of its fighters in a Nusra Front suicide attack on an Islamic State location.

In the spring of 2014, many Battar Brigade fighters returned to Libya. In Derna, they reorganized themselves as the Islamic Youth Shura Council (IYSC). In September, an Islamic State delegation, including the Yemeni Abu al-Bara al-Azdi and the Saudi Abu Habib al-Jazrawi, arrived in Libya. After being received by the IYSC, they collected pledges of allegiance to the Islamic State’s self-appointed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, from IYSC-aligned fighters in Derna. They then declared eastern Libya to be a province of the Islamic State, calling it Wilayat Barqa, or the Cyrenaica Province.

INTRA-ISLAMIST CONFLICTS

Even before the return of fighters from Syria became an issue, and long before the declaration of Wilayat Barqa, there were tensions between Islamists in eastern Libya. Many disputes concerned the Islamic legitimacy of Libya’s transitional governing authorities. Many former rebels—including Islamists—saw the post-Qaddafi government as broadly acceptable, and wanted to influence it from the inside. But the most hard-line factions condemned it for being based on democratic elections, relying on former members of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, and failing to apply Sharia law.

The presence and influence of the Islamic State continues to spread in the civil war chaos of post-Qaddafi Libya, inserting itself into an already messy conflict between the rival Operation Dignity and Operation Dawn.

For example, in July 2011, Mustafa Abdul Jalil—a Qaddafi-era minister and pragmatic Islamist who defected and became the leader of Libya’s Western-backed National Transitional Council—visited Derna. An Islamist militia known as the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigades (ASMB) offered to guard him, but shortly after the visit, a religious ruling was published on the influential jihadi site Minbar al-Tawhid in response to a question about the propriety of protecting Abdul Jalil. The ruling condemned the National Transitional Council, and asked jihadists to “be guardians of [religious] doctrine, not protectors of those who seek to displace the Sharia.” Another Derna-based group of Islamists known as Ansar al-Sharia (not to be confused with the Benghazi-based jihadi faction of the same name) agreed with this hard-line view. Tensions later increased, especially after the ASMB was criticized by more hardline Islamists for protecting the July 2012 General National Congress elections, which Ansar al-Sharia viewed as un-Islamic.

The arrival in Derna of Libyan jihadists from Syria added to the conflict. Initially, many of the returnees worked with Ansar al-Sharia against the ASMB. In May 2014,Mohammed Boubilal, an ASMB leader, was killed when his car exploded. Ansar al-Sharia in Derna and the IYSC were prime suspects. A few days later, Moatazz al-Miraash, reportedly a leader in both Ansar al-Sharia and the IYSC, was shot dead outside his house in Derna. Then, perhaps most significantly, one of the IYSC’s leading members, Mahdi Saad al-Ghaythi, was shot dead, reportedly while trying to bomb the house of a military leader in the ASMB.

The IYSC’s declaration of fealty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State further divided Ansar al-Sharia in Derna, with some members supporting the group while others followed al-Qaeda and professed allegiance to its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

DIGNITY VERSUS DAWN

In May 2014, the retired General Khalifa Hifter launched a foreign-backed military operation dubbed Operation Dignity, which sought to purge Islamist forces from the Benghazi area. This spurred a temporary closing of the ranks among the Islamists, particularly because Hifter initially drew no distinction between Islamist groups that maintained relations with Libya’s Western-backed government, such as the Libya Shield One, and extremist anti-state jihadis like Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi.

The disparate Islamist militias combined their firepower and entered into a nominal alliance with other anti-Hifter forces. Even though many of these groups pursue Islamist politics, they are often more defined by their regional roots, with many based in western Libya, including in the cities of Tripoli and Misrata, or among ethnic Amazigh (Berber) groups. Together, Hifter’s opponents have called themselves Operation Dawn.

Libyan politics is now dominated by the struggle between Hifter’s Dignity coalition and the rival Dawn forces. The political vacuum created by the civil war, and the perception among Libyan Islamists that Hifter is a more threatening common enemy, have enabled the Islamic State to grow. Groups that would otherwise be compelled to confront the Islamic State are no longer marshaling all their resources to do so.

This dynamic is especially evident in eastern Libya. Despite their doctrinal and ideological divergences, the rejectionist al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliated groups—as well as more pragmatic Islamist militias—have all fought together against Hifter’s forces in and around Benghazi, even as they have kept jostling for power in Derna and other areas. In August 2014, for example, the ASMB announced the death of eight of its members in Benghazi, and in mid-September, a senior IYSC member was also reportedly killed in the city.

BEYOND DERNA AND BENGHAZI

In addition to the declaration of Wilayat Barqa in eastern Libya, the Islamic State appears to be prioritizing its expansion in the west. On February 19, 2015, a convoy of Islamic State vehicles arrived at Sirte in central Libya and declared it Wilayat Tarablus (Tripoli Province). The group later moved to al-Nawfaliyah in the southwest, but withdrew on February 20 in the face of Egyptian airstrikes. There are also reports of growing Islamic State cells in Tripoli, Sabratha, and in the desert region south of Sirte.

The propaganda value of such expansion is clear. It has facilitated high-profile attacks like the assault on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and, more recently, attacks on oil fields like al-Bahi and al-Dahra located south of Sirte. All of this serves to raise the profile of Wilayat Tarablus, attract potential foreign recruits, particularly from Tunisia, and put additional pressure on Operation Dawn factions in the west of Libya.

Sirte is an especially attractive site for Islamic State expansion given the long-standing presence there of fighters from the Benghazi-based faction of Ansar al-Sharia (both the Derna and the Benghazi branches of Ansar al-Sharia have been listed as terrorist groups by the United Nations). According to some reports, the Islamic State even dispatched a leading cleric, the Bahraini Turki al-Binali, to the city last year to win converts. Many Islamic State recruits in Sirte are reportedly defectors from Ansar al-Sharia; some are from Benghazi in the east, some are from Misrata, and some are local youth from the Furjan tribe.

While there have been many reports about the Islamic State exerting total control over Sirte, especially after the university in the city closed, the actual extent of its presence is more limited. Sources inside the city say that the Islamic State probably has less than 100 vehicles in the city, and its fighters probably number between 200 and 400. Misratan militias, along with the Sirte Security Committee, are in control of key checkpoints and roads leading into the city.

The Islamic State recently began staging attacks further south in what its members call Wilayat Fezzan. It announced its first attack there in early January 2015, when it killed nine members of the rival militia known as Southern Shield in Sukna. In mid-January, it was reported that the Islamic State had killed four soldiers in the Third Force, another militia, near Jufra. And in early February, the Islamic State attacked the Mabruk oil field near Jufra, and executed several workers.

MOVING TOWARD MISRATA?

The most crucial issue for the Islamic State’s future expansion plans may be the fate of Misrata. Given its proximity to Sirte, Misrata is directly in the Islamic State’s sights—and in its way. Any move by the jihadist group into Tripoli and the west of Libya will have to confront Misrata’s powerful militias. Already there have been several propaganda overtures by the Islamic State to the city, including an open letter from Abu Moadh al-Barqawi addressed to the “youth of Misrata.” Barqawi asked them to sacrifice their lives for God instead of for democracy and the parliamentary government backed by Operation Dawn, and urged the Misratan fighters to repent and join the Islamic State.

Reactions within Operation Dawn to the Islamic State’s advances have been split, which is perhaps no surprise, considering the loose and fluid structure of the Operation Dawn alliance. On the one hand, Libyan Islamists have stepped up their verbal attacks on the Islamic State. For example, Dar al-Ifta—Libya’s highest religious authority—has denounced the Islamic State’s “terrorist” actions as diverging from Islam. But on the other hand, some Operation Dawn sympathizers seem to be in denial about the problem. The Islamist-backed Prime Minister Omar al-Hassi has, for example, claimed that the Islamic State’s propaganda video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being murdered is intended to serve as a pretext for Egypt’s intervention on the side of Hifter and Operation Dignity.

Such statements have widened the gap between the Misratans fighters, who—whether Islamist or not—tend to view the Islamic State’s expansion into Sirte as a threat to their hometown, and other Operation Dawn factions in places like Tripoli. In interviews in January, several Misratan commanders acknowledged the growing threat from the Islamic State and sought to distance themselves from more radical elements in the Operation Dawn coalition.

A key question now is whether these Misratan forces have the capacity and will to confront the Islamic State while also pursuing their battle against Hifter. Although Misratan fighters from the Third Force and Center Shield have surrounded Sirte, they are reluctant to attack for fear of opening a fourth front in their exposed rear areas. (Misratans are currently deployed to the west of Tripoli, in the southern city of Sabha, and in Bin Jawad, east of Sirte). The Misratan approach toward the Islamic State in Sirte so far has avoided direct military confrontation and has instead relied on elders and religious figures to negotiate with the militants.

FEEDING OFF OF THE CIVIL WAR

There are several ways in which the Islamic State could pick up increased support. The dislodging and dispersal of other hard-line Islamist factions could compel their youthful foot soldiers to join the Islamic State. Already there are signs of this happening among the Ansar al-Sharia groups in both Derna and Benghazi, although neither group has as of yet pledged its loyalty. The Islamic State in Libya may also benefit from the continued influx of foreign jihadists from Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria, including hardened veterans of AQIM. Intervention by Egyptian troops on the side of Operation Dignity or the deployment of a Western peacekeeping force could provide the Islamic State with a recruiting ploy to attract an additional foreign fighter influx.

In order to reduce the likelihood of a stronger foothold for the Islamic State in Libya, there needs to be a ceasefire, as well as cooperation between more pragmatic military elements from the Misrata/Operation Dawn coalition and Operation Dignity forces, which would erode the potential space for growth of Islamic State elements.

As long as the civil war in Libya persists, the Operation Dawn faction will have incentives to downplay the Islamic State threat, to soft-pedal on confronting it or, even worse, to turn a blind eye as long as Islamic State fighters help in the battle against Hifter. For its part, Hifter’s Operation Dignity will have incentives to inflate the threat and use it as a pretext for marshaling international support against the entire Operation Dawn coalition. Both approaches are ultimately counterproductive over the long term.

OBSTACLES TO THE ISLAMIC STATE’S EXPANSION

Regardless of which trajectory the civil war takes, the Islamic State may find its expansion hindered by two structural factors.

First, the Islamic State will be unable to leverage the sort of broad-based sectarian grievances that have fueled Sunni support for the group in Syria and Iraq. Unlike Syria and Iraq, Libya has a homogenously Sunni population, and does not suffer from sectarian conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims. There is the possibility that the Islamic State could exploit the increasing resentment among tribal and communal groups that have been excluded from the new order—the deposed dictator’s Qadhadhfa tribe in the Sirte-Sabha region, for instance. But historically, jihadism in Libya has not had a distinctly tribal character, and many of the loyalist tribes are still throwing their lot in with Hifter and Operation Dignity.

Second, the Islamic State currently lacks the capacity to provide administrative and social services. In war-torn Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State was able to raise money through ransoms and control of oil. In Libya, however, oil continues to be controlled by the state-run National Oil Company, such that the government controls foreign oil sales and then distributes revenues to both the rival Tobruk- and Tripoli-based governments. Even if the Islamic State were able to seize major oil fields, it would face a different and more difficult export environment than in Iraq and Syria. It will therefore lack the capacity to provide the salaries and social services that underpin the Islamic State’s power in Syria and Iraq. That said, the group could benefit in the future from an influx of funds from outside the country, kidnapping for ransom, or the seizure of existing smuggling networks. But it may find it hard to do this given the multiplicity of other actors vying for these same revenue streams.

Moving forward, the group is instead likely to try to raise the appeal of its brand through high-profile attacks that can help it attract supporters from Libya’s splintering jihadist movements. It may also increase its attacks on the country’s oil resources in the hopes that it could tap into further economic decline to bolster its ranks.

(Source / 21.06.2015)

22 June, London: Freedom for Khader Adnan

Organized by Inminds:

DATE: Monday 22nd June 2015, 2pm-4pm
LOCATION: Outside Parliament, Parliament Square, London (near tube is Westminster)
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/901861463188869/

Please join us in a vigil outside Parliament to demand freedom for Palestinian hunger striker Sheikh Khader Adnan on the 50th Day of his hunger strike; and to demand an end to Israel’s illegal practice of punitive Administrative Detention whereby Palestinian political prisoners are caged indefinitely (some for nearly 10 years) without a charge or trial. Sheikh Khader Adnan is in critical condition, experiencing intermittent coma, his weight has dropped to a dangerous level and he is unable to stand or move , and his heart rate has dropped. The Israel Prison Service has forcibly transferred him to Assaf Harofeh Hospital, where he is surronded by three prison guards while his hand and leg are shackled to the hospital bed.

SHEIKH KHADER ADNAN

june22-khaderadnan
A former Palestinian political prisoner, Sheikh Khader Adnan is known as the father of the hunger strikers – the symbol of Palestinian resistance and steadfastness, In 2011 he was abducted and caged indefinitely without any charged or trial under Israeli illegal system of punitive administrative detention. To protest his illegal imprisonment he went on hunger strike and won his freedom. His successful 66 day hunger strike in 2012 – the longest in Palestinian history at the time, inspired over 1600 other Palestinian prisoners to hunger strike. Since his release Sheikh Khader Adnan has been the voice of the Palestinian political prisoners, ceaselessly defending their rights at every opportunity and thus is a thorn in the side of the occupation. He has been in and out of occupation prisons since his student days from 1999 due to his political stance against the occupation. He has spent more than 6 years of his life caged in occupation dungeons, yet he has never been formally charged with anything let alone stand trial for anything.
Sheikh Khader Adnan is a father of 6 children. Youngest are triplets under 2 year old – Ali, Hamza and Mohammed; his other son is aged 3 – Abd-Al-Rahman. His two daughters are Maali – the eldest just 7 years old, and Besan 5 years old. Khader Adnan has a degree in Mathematics, and runs a bakery in the town of Arrabah near Jenin in the West Bank. His wife Randa describes their marriage as a partnership: “Khader is not just my husband.. He is a partner in struggle. I’ve been with him to protests and together we support prisoners families. I never considered this a burden or an exhaustion but rather an asset. ” She stresses how loving and gentle Adnan is: “He always helped me look after the children, changing their diapers and doing stuff that some men never consider doing. During my pregnancy with triplets, Khader was the one cleaning the house and making every effort to keep me happy and comfortable.”

khaderadnan-inminds
On Tuesday 8th July 2014 he was returning home to share the Iftar meal with his family after the Ramadan fast when he was abducted at a temporary checkpoint the occupation had illegally set up near his home town. He was given a 6 month administrative detention order without charge or trial. When the occupation renewed the order in Jan 2015 with an additional 4 month administrative detention order Sheikh Khadar Adnan protested by going on a one week hunger strike, announcing beforehand the duration of the strike. And when that administrative detention finished and they again gave him another 6 month administrative detention order in May 2015, Sheikh Khadar Adnan started his open ended hunger strike on 6th May 2015. It must be noted that Khader Adnan’s hunger strike is complete – unlike many previous long term hunger strikers he is refusing vitamins and other nutritional supplements, so he cannot stay alive long. Reports suggest that on day 35 of his hunger strike he is already experiencing intermittent comas, a sharp decrease in weight and drop in his heart rate.

His mother says that “We discussed the issue before he was arrested again in July last year, I told him, please, if they arrest you again don’t go on hunger strike.’ He remained silent, but gave me a look that pierced my heart like a bullet — as if to ask me to respect his decision and not expect me to deprive him of the only weapon he would have.” Khader Adnan informed his wife and his father of his plan to go on hunger strike in case Israeli authorities were to renew his administrative detention. His father explains “Khader is not a nihilist.. He’s not doing this because he wants to die and because he wants to hurt himself. On the contrary, he’s going through this because he loves life and believes that this is the only way to achieve freedom.”
His wife is concerned with the lack of action on the ground “During the last time [hunger strike], serious protests on the ground began only after the 45th day of his hunger strike and after he was nearing [death]. We cannot wait so long this time,” She urges Palestinians and the wider solidarity movement to mobilise for the prisoners cause “Those who believe in this cause should face the authorities and take to the streets, even if it meant arrest. Freedom is not without a price.”

Adnan’s father believes that one of the factors contributing to the relative silence is fear. Not fear of Israel, however, but of the Palestinian Authority: “The Palestinian Authority regards my son as a threat because while Khader supports all forms of resistance, the Palestinian Authority supports all forms of normalization,” he said.
Similarly other Arab regimes have also ignored the plight of the hunger strikers as they did previously. During Khader Adnan’s last hunger strike Syed Hassan Nasrallah remarked on the silence of Arab regimes “If Khader Adnan was an Israeli citizen, the Arab governments would intervene at the highest level.”*

Such collaborationist stances by governments makes it all the more imperative for ordinary people to ‘take to the streets’ and demand freedom for Khader Adnan.

* http://www.english.alahednews.com.lb/essaydetails.php?eid=16748&cid=370#.VXVjvUYWmul

khaderadnan-inminds2

MESSAGE FROM SHEIKH KHADER ADNAN ON DAY 30 OF HUNGER STRIKE

This is the english translation of the message from Sheikh Khader Adnan on day 30 of his hunger strike:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

All praises be to Allah in trials and tribulations, and All praises be to Allah in times of grief and happiness,

Peace and mercy upon his messenger Muhammed who was patient and all his family and companions who struggled in the valley of Abu Taleb through hunger, under a tight siege until Allah relieved their trial.

[This is a reference to early history of Islam when the first Muslims who accepted prophet Muhammed’s message of the oneness of God were persecuted and some tortured to death by the polytheists that Abu Taleb, the Prophets uncle, took them to safety in his valley under his tribes protection. The polytheists laid siege to the valley starving the Muslims inside – some days the Muslims had so little food that they had to share one date to feed two people. After 3 hard years of patience and struggle the siege collapsed and the Muslims could return home.]

To my people, my family, and to the world’s free souls I send you my greetings, love, and gratitude. It is the strength that I drawn from Allah, and from your support and prayers that gives me the power to continue.

From by beloved al-Ramla city with its majestic minarets.. its land and al-Lod which witnessed the massacre of 1948, I send you greeting a second time,

[Khader Adnan is currently in Ramla prison hospital, described by patients as a ‘slaughter house’ due to the conditions the patients are subjected to. The prison hospital is located in the ethnically cleansed Palestinian city of al-Ramla and its nearby city of Lydda (Lod) infamous of the massacre by Zionists in 1948 which left around 450 Palestinian men, women and children dead with 70,000 forcefully expelled from their homes.]

I would like you to know that I am not engaged in a personal fight for freedom. My battle is that of all Palestinian detainees who are yearning for freedom and dignity. They are the symbols of pride, freedom and dignity in this universe.. fighting for the noblest cause the world has known for decades.. when our land and our holy places were stolen.

Administrative detention is just one of the most despicable policies our people have ever witnessed. Britain bears responsibility for initiating this criminal policy, but that does not justify the occupations use of this detention against our people whose place is not to be detained inside these jails but to be home in our homeland with our families.

From the bottom of my heart, I express my gratitude for your support and solidarity. May Allah restore our freedom so that we can rejoin our families soon. The Israeli jailers try to break us down, but we promise them with Allah’s help and support and your solidarity that we will inshAllah win. This hunger strike continues until we win our freedom, inshAllah.

Khader Adnan, 4th June 2015 – day 30 of hunger strike

FORCE-FEEDING

On day 42 of his hunger strike (14th June 2015) the Israeli cabinet approved a bill permitting the force-feeding of hunger strikers in Israeli prisons. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan who led the bill, justified it by writing “Alongside attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel, hunger strikes of terrorists in prisons have become a means to threaten Israel”. The bill now just needs approval from the Knesset before it becomes law. The World Medical Association has described force-feeding of hunger-strikers as ‘tantamount to torture’. Physicians for Human Rights says the bill will ‘legalise torture and gross violations of medical ethics and international conventions’, noting that between 1970 and 1992 (when Israel permitted such force-feeding) five Palestinian prisoners died while being force-fed.

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

Administrative detention is a practice used by Israel to imprison Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.

Prisoners are given rolling detention orders which can be anything from 1-6 months, renewable indefinitely. This is against international law. For example administrative detainee Mazen Natsheh has been locked up cumulatively for nearly 10 years without charge or trial.

Detention orders are based on so called “secret information” which never needs to be produced, either to the detainee nor their lawyer.

Administrative detention is often used to arbitrarily jail Palestinians where there is no evidence for a trial, or for punishment as in the case of 8 Palestinian MPs.

Israel has on average issued over 2000 detention orders every year (2007-2011). Today there are 450 administrative detainees. Most of them. like Khader Adnan, having been transferred from the West Bank into Israel in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

(Source / 21.06.2015)

Palestinian, Israeli Soldier, Seriously Injured In Jerusalem

Israeli medical and military sources have reported, Sunday, that a young Palestinian reportedly stabbed an Israeli soldier, at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, causing a serious injury. Soldiers repeatedly shot the Palestinian, causing severe injuries.

Jongeman vermoord in Jerusalem

The Israeli Police initially said the Palestinian succumbed to his wounds, but later corrected its report, and stated he was in a serious condition in the Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center, in Jerusalem.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, said the young Palestinian, 18 years of age from the West Bank, stabbed a soldier in the neck, causing a serious injury.

The soldier, 20 years of age, suffered wounds to his chest and neck, and was transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, in Jerusalem.

According to Maan News, lawyer of the Ad-Dameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, said the wounded Palestinian, Yasser Yassin Tarwa, 18, from Sa’ir town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, is believed to be clinically dead.

An Eyewitness told the Palestine TV that he saw the young Palestinian talking to Israeli soldiers, and apparently an argument took place before the Palestinian pushed, or attacked, a soldier before another soldier fired four to six rounds of live ammunition at him.

The Israeli Police issued a gag order of the case until it concludes all investigations and publishes it report.

According to the witness, the young Palestinian was left bleeding, without any help for 10-15 minutes, before the medics tried to help him.

He was bleeding from his chest, arm, and his loin area, the eyewitness added.

Israeli Ynet News said the stabber managed to enter Jerusalem illegally, had no prior security records, and that he was not among the Palestinians who were granted permits to enter the city during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Head of the “Israel Our Home Party” Avigdor Lieberman held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the attack, and slammed the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said the attack is a result of what he called “ongoing incitement by the Palestinian Authority,” and the “weak Netanyahu government.”

Lieberman also called for “aggressive measures against Hamas,” in the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

(Source / 21.06.2015)

Morsi appears in death row jumpsuit in espionage trial

 Morsi appeared in court on Sunday in a red prison uniform

Anadolu Agency

Former President Mohamed Morsi appeared in an execution red uniform on Sunday during a court trial on charges of espionage.

Anadolu Agency has learned that other defendants chanted slogans describing Morsi as a “hero” when he entered the cage reserved for him in the makeshift courtroom at the national police academy.

On Tuesday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Morsi to death over a mass jailbreak in 2011 during demonstrations that removed then Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi was also sentenced to life in prison on charges of espionage.

(Source / 21.06.2015)

ICJ urges release of human rights lawyer Yara Sallam

Activist Yara Sallam

Egypt Independent
The International Court of Justice has urged for the release of a young activist lawyer, Yara Sallam, who is serving a three-year jail term over her involvement in the 2014 demonstrations, demanding the amendment of the notorious protest law,  introduced following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
In a statement published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the court said Yara Sallam has now passed one year since in jail, since her arrest last June. The protest law, the breaching of which has been taken as the main reason behind the imprisonment of activists of all political stripes, imposes fines and prison sentences for protests failing to acquire prior security permission.
“The trial of the 23 defendants violated their rights to a fair and public hearing under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key human rights treaty ratified by Egypt in 1982”, according to the court.
“Their lawyers were prevented from cross-examining witnesses. Members of the public, including family members, were prohibited from entering the courtroom, without any valid reason.”, it added, stressing that defendants had been prosecuted in the absence of any evidence.
“The Egyptian authorities must end their campaign to silence human rights defenders and all those suspected of opposing the military and the government through politically motivated prosecutions and trials. To this end, they must immediately and unconditionally release Yara Sallam and the 22 other detainees,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
(Source / 21.06.2015)