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Any way out? Security failure in face of terrorism

Youssef Sidhom

15 Feb 2014 10:27 am

Problems on hold


Egypt is today living through terrorist operations that often target the police apparatus and security men in the various provinces. No one can claim that that gruesome scenario is anything of a surprise; it was predicted and expected. The Muslim Brothers (MB), having lost their power and earned wide public rejection, have resorted to violence and terrorism. They opted for political suicide and exposed the true face they had strived so arduously and for so long to conceal.

Every Friday Egypt is the scene of some new episode of MB terror. Arms in hand, they wreak ruin wherever they set foot. MB supporters consistently provoke and clash with the police, throwing to the wind the loss of life and the injuries suffered in the process. As though the more injured and dead the better, since the MB then exploit the horrendous figures to attract world attention and achieve political advantage. 
The horrendous terrorism has become part and parcel of Egyptian life, and promises to go on uninterrupted for as long as Egypt marches ahead along its Roadmap to a future of democracy and freedom, and even extend beyond. Political analysts predict that with the achievement of the successive phases of the Roadmap the MB will gradually lose hope of recapturing their lost power. But we must realise that this in no way implies the de facto decline of violence and terrorism; the growing MB irrelevance and despair could lead to outbreaks of reckless, hysterical attacks that aim only at achieving terror, ruin and death.
Since we must admit that it is the destiny of Egypt to pay a hefty price for prising itself out of the clutches of the MB, and that Egyptians have no regrets whatsoever about doing so, the question arises: How can the security apparatus be enhanced and braced to deal with the MB-generated violence and terrorism? Candour here is essential. Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the police should not disconcert their leaders, nor should it in any way undermine the deep public appreciation of the role played and sacrifices offered by the security men. Egyptians are keen for their security system to rise up to a state-of-the-art level, to root confidence and reassurance among the public, preserve the safety and lives of the police, and give the lie to the terrorists who incessantly brag about their evil deeds. 
It is impossible to forget or overlook the terrorist attacks against the Daqahliya Security Headquarters in December 2013; the Cairo Security Headquarters last month; the almost daily assault of police stations, camps, and checkpoints; and the attempts on the lives of police chiefs and central security soldiers. All this has left Egyptians with a shocking sense of police ineptness and inadequacy. The role of the police is to sense a terrorist act before it takes place and abort it; otherwise it should take direct action to contain the matter and minimise losses, catch the criminals, and bring them to justice.
Modern-day technology gives an edge to security apparatuses—their chiefs, operations officers, riot police, patrols, and checkpoint personnel—in combatting terrorism. In Egypt we ask: Whatever happened to the information technology and modern systems designed to spot suspicious movement or assembly before they aggravate into violent play? The hordes of terrorists leave mosques following Friday noon prayers in a déjà vu scenario to wreak havoc with our peace while the police do nothing to stop them before the violence breaks out? Bombings by speeding cars or motorbikes targeting police patrols or trucks end in the terrorists fleeing the scene and security officials vowing to catch them. Whatever happened to the notion of predicting the crime, especially when it is highly predictable? Or to the police patrols manned by police in uniform or in civilian clothes, that directly chase the criminals? Is the idea of specially trained forces on motorbike ready to set off behind any assailant, beyond police imagination? We have heard time and again of mobile patrols to oversee and organise traffic in our streets, but have as yet seen none. Can’t these be essential now to help out in our battle against terrorism?
We can talk at length about the various improvements our security apparatus can do with, and the road is still long before Egypt can heal from the blows of black terrorism. An upgrade in the policies and security methods can work to spare lives and defeat terrorism.
WATANI International
16 February 2014


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