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Egypt’s Domestic and International Role to Combat Political Terrorism

Updated: Apr 5, 2018

Dr. Mahmoud Khalifa

Lecturer of Political Science (Suez Canal University, Egypt), Assistant Professor (Applied Science University, Bahrain), Visiting Fellow (University of Lincoln, UK),,


In the past decades, Egypt has suffered a lot from terrorism, but after the June 30 revolution in 2013, there was unprecedented political terrorism, without international attention to what was occurred in Egypt, The ambiguity of the concept of political terrorism has given a strong sense of concern for this phenomenon, which led to the attempt to develop the concept of terrorism in general and political terrorism in particular. The problem of the study shows the ambiguity surrounding the idea of political terrorism, which has a various meanings, and there is still no comprehensive definition of it. And the failure of the United Nations Organization to take a decisive situation towards the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is a big question mark? Hence, it makes a key question in the research "What is the role played by Egypt to combat the phenomenon of political terrorism at the domestic and international levels? Hence, this study seeks to describe and analyze the Egyptian role in confronting political terrorism, and the qualitative method is the most appropriate in the study of the legal, security and social phenomena, and as a result, the researcher used it. It examines the phenomenon of political terrorism as it exists in reality and describes it closely in order to reach to the conclusion which contributes to understanding and developing what is happening in real. Also, the researcher used the case study methodology as a complementary approach to understanding the situation in Egypt in depth.


Terrorism is a compound and complex phenomenon, its reasons are numerous and overlapping, all of which contribute to its production in varying proportions, so it should not stand at some of them, but must be studied in a comprehensive study. These reasons are including what is political, intellectual, social, economic, psychological and educational. The growing phenomenon of terrorism in the world is one of the most dangerous forms of security threats faced by States because it aims at an important aspect of the security, stability, and future of their societies, especially the gathering of terrorist act between the ambitions and objectives of external forces that do not want to use their direct tools, but by relying on engines to create crises within the target countries plus the exploitation of its borders or surrounding political conditions.

One of its categories may encourage behavior that is harmful to society, threatening his safety, including the use of violence to achieve political goals as well as class interests that may in part be reflected in the service of regional or international external actors.

So, the researcher will address the following six points:

- Definition of terrorism in literature and international laws,

- The Kind and meaning of political terrorism,

- Political terrorism in Egypt since the June 30 revolution,

- The Egyptian vision in combating terrorism,

- The decisive confrontations against terrorism, and

- Egypt's international situation on the phenomenon of political terrorism

The Concept of Terrorism in Literature Review

The word terrorism in Arabic (Al El-Erhab) came from terrify (Yorhib), The Arab Linguistic Council recognized the word "terrorism" as a modern term in the Arabic language, based on a "Terrify" in the sense of fear and panic. Terrorists are a description of those who use violence to achieve their political goals. And also, terrorism means the attempt by groups and individuals to impose ideas, views or doctrines by force because they consider themselves right and the majority as well, no matter how misleading, and give themselves the status of guardianship under any reason.

In English Dictionary, the word terrorism meant fear and panic and derived from verb (terror), the use of the word terrorism in English indicates crimes associated with violence or threats or crimes against the state to create an atmosphere of instability or insecurity in a country, it is the use or threat of violence for political ends, including putting the public in fear.

Alex P. Schmid, in his book “Political Terrorism”, wrote about one hundred and nine definitions of terrorism collected them from authors in all branches of social sciences including the science of law, so it can be said that all researchers in the field of terrorism have a certain priorities and specific ideas that control their minds in determining the notation of terrorism. Joel Lisker, chief counsel of the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, mentioned that the terrorism is "a Violent criminal activity aimed at intimidation in order to achieve political objectives."

Terrorism is one of coercion means in the international community; it has no goals universally agreed nor legally binding. It is defined by the Criminal Code as those violent acts aimed at creating an atmosphere of fear, directed against religious and political followers, or an ideological goal, in which the intentional targeting or disregard of the safety of non-civilians. It is also illegal violence and war. Criminal acts against the State whose purpose or nature is to intimidate certain persons or groups of persons, or from the public people. Terrorist acts are characterized by intimidation associated with violence, such as bombings, destruction of public facilities, destruction of railways, poisoning of drinking water, spreading infectious diseases and mass killings. Louise Richardson of Harvard University has said that “the definition of terrorism has become so widely used in many contexts as to become almost meaningless.

1.1 The Definition of Terrorism in U.S. and Western Countries Laws

American Laws define terrorist acts as criminal violence practiced with the intent to intimidate or overwhelm a civilian population, or influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or influence the behavior of a government by means of intentional murder or kidnapping of persons.

The American project to define terrorism stems from the limitation of international terrorism to the terror of individuals, excluding or condoning state terrorism. Throughout its history, the United States has evaded any definition of State terrorism, it focuses on the terrorism of individuals and considers it any use of illegal force and harshness against individuals or property, and this action is imposed on the government or civilians for political and social purposes.

1.2 Definition of the US Department of State

Terrorism is the deliberate violence with politically motivated, which is committed against non-combatants, or agents of traitors, usually in order to influence the public, as non-combatants are civilians, along with the unarmed military, or at times when there is no state of war and hostility.

1.3 Definition of the CIA

In the 1980s, the CIA defined terrorism as the threat of violence, or use it to achieve political objectives by individuals or groups, whether they are working for or against government authority, these acts are aimed at shock and influence on a party that goes beyond the victims of direct terrorism. Terrorism has been practiced by a group seeking to overthrow certain regimes and treatment of certain injustice and weaken the international system as an end in itself.

1.4 Definition of French law on terrorism

Whereas the French legislature has addressed this issue within the provisions of the Penal Code, and select certain criminal acts subjected to more stringent rules as terrorist offenses if they linked to an individual or group in criminal acts, with the aim of seriously disrupting public order through intimidation. The French legislator defined terrorism as, "Violation of the law by an individual, or organization with a view to causing serious disturbance in public order by threatening with intimidation.”

1.5 UK Definition of terrorism:

In Act 1974 (UK), it provided that: “terrorism” means the use of violence for political ends, and includes any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear’. Thus, terrorism is the use of violence to achieve political objectives, including violence, the use of force to put the public in fear and panic.

The Act 2000 defines terrorism as “a designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system." In 2001, the UK government drew up new plans and laws to deal with terrorists and terrorist acts, anyone who leaves or enters the UK will undergo an accurate electronic examination, and a new border police forces in uniform will monitor new arrivals across all border crossings, and the external security departments will also share information concerning all those leaving the country.

1.5 Terrorism in International Law

The large numbers of the scholars of international law have been avoiding a specific and explicit definition of terrorism and confirmed that the search for a definition of this phenomenon is a waste of time and effort, researchers should focus on effective and active action to combat it, this what confirmed by United Nation in December, 29, 1986. When the General Assembly condemned all forms of terrorism and ignored its definition, and it has been agreed on a very briefly definition which was done by the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, 1977 as well as the Eighth Congress on the “Prevention of Crime” and the “Treatment of Prisoners” which held in Havana in 1990 and the Ninth United Nations Conference which held in Cairo in 1995, which discussed strategies to prevent violent crime and the action against transnational and organized crime.

From all the previous definitions, many scholars have a view in the definition of terrorism, some of them focused on the psychological impact of terrorist violence, and mentioned that the definitions had been focused on the psychological impact of the terrorist act, intentionally intended to spread fear or terror, where the nature of the terrorist act leads to the effect that is required. But there are two different trends were discerned within this impact, the first trend was the requirement of availability for fear or terror. The terrorism is the use or threat of violence in order to create a climate of fear and panic to spread terror, and thus cause some political or social change.

The second trend, it does not require the existence of an intention to spread fear or terror, on the other hand, some believe that the fear, is one of the components of terrorism, it is not a distinguishing feature of it, and is not necessarily the primary intent of most terrorists. It is a consequence of violence, which is the means or tool that away a specific response that achieves what terrorists want, and that terrorism is merely violence that produces terror or fear, and at the same time, the war and others of human atrocities will enter within the definition of terrorism.

While another sees that the requirement of fear or terror as the object of a terrorist act leads to the exclusion of acts of genocide, and acts that aim to support the perpetrator regardless of implications of the latter act, therefore, terrorism is devoid of fear, where terrorism is seen as a use of violence or force, or threats against innocent persons, civilians or non-combatants, in order to achieve political objectives. Others scholars have been focused on the use of terrorist violence, they clarified that the definitions of this component varied widely, and two different trends were observed in this regard, the first trend was the necessity of violence use. Terrorism is the use or threat of violence against individuals endangers innocent or human lives, or threaten the fundamental freedoms of individuals for political purposes with a view to influencing on the attitude, or the behavior of a target group regardless of direct victims, It is also a violent way of political opposition, consisting of violence and threats.

The second trend has clarified that there is no need to use violence, many scholars see it, no need to use violence in terrorism, but the need for criminal content which causes fear and panic in society, such as burying nuclear waste, killing others with their radiation, poisoning of drinking water, the use of toxic gases, contaminating food with toxic chemicals, lethal bacteria, as well as the disruption of communications using electronic means, flooding the country with counterfeit currencies that harm the national economy, or sending mailings carrying epidemiological microbes.

And the last group of scholars has written about the perpetrator of the terrorist act. The definitions are determined who could use terrorism. However, there has been a clear divergence in this definition. Two different trends were observed in this regard, the first trend was mentioned that the terrorism is used only by non-state actors, a number of scholars focused on their definition of terrorism in using by non-state actors only, some have defined it as the use or threat of violence without the State with the aim of spreading panic in society in order to weaken or overcome the authorities, and political change. Another has defined it as the sudden use of indiscriminate violence or threats from non-state actors against innocent people for political ends.

The second trend, terrorism is used by individuals, groups, and States alike, If the prevailing trend in the definitions of terrorism focuses on that perpetrated by an actor other than the State, and recognizing the seriousness of acts of terrorism, whoever perpetrates them, some scholars have argued that this focus should not distract attention from state terrorism, or makes us believe on other than the reality of the modern international order that terrorism is concerned only with the will or entities without the State only.

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