Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Cairo is preparing to amend its anti-terrorism laws, including new penalties for terror-related crimes, high-level Egyptian official sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
The new anti-terror law will include a new, more stringent and expansive definition of terrorism and introduce a new legal mechanism for designating terrorist groups, as well as increasing the range of punishments applicable to those convicted on terror-related charges.
Egypt formally designated a number of groups and organizations as terrorists following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier this week, an Egyptian court also designated the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, as a terrorist organization.
Egypt’s government passed its first “terrorist entities” law on November 26, 2014. The law defined terrorist entities as “any association, organization, group or gang that practices, aims at or calls for destabilizing public order, endangers society’s well-being or its safety interests or endangers social unity by using violence, power, threats, or acts of terrorism to achieve its goals.”
As well as amending the official definition of terrorism, it will also introduce a procedure enabling the judiciary to formally designate groups and individuals as terrorist organizations, but also includes the right for those accused of terrorism to appeal their status. Under the current law, different Egyptian courts are able to designate terrorist groups, but will now follow a single procedure.
The amended law will also increase the punishment for terrorism-related crimes and expand the scope of crimes that fall into this category, a senior Egyptian official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said.
The draft law is in the final stage of drafting and will be presented to the government and ratified “soon,” the high-level official added.
Egypt, particularly Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula, have suffered a number of terrorist attacks over the past year carried out by Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis.
Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis is a terrorist group with ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), although Cairo has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of being behind the group.
Egypt’s Minister of Transitional Justice Mohamed Al-Henedi said that the new “terrorist entities” law will put forward a clear mechanism for the state to designate terrorist organizations, including foreign groups.
The move comes as Egypt’s foreign minister said that any country dealing with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian Revolutionary Council and Revolution Parliament are breaking Egyptian law and “legitimizing” outlawed entities.
“Persons who belong to these entities are fugitives from justice, and are visiting a number of countries to promote fallacies and extremist ideas,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Atty said on Sunday.
His comments come after the banned Egyptian Revolutionary Council—which is part of the Muslim Brotherhood—announced it had met with White House and US State Department officials.
“The Egyptian Revolutionary Council and the Revolution Parliament which belong to the banned terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group have been issuing inflammatory statements and inciting violence and terrorism as well as promoting lies abroad about the situation in Egypt,” Abdel-Atty said.