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A message to Egypt: No mercy for terrorists!

Within hours of the video appearing on social media, the Jordanian government executed two Iraqi terrorists

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Published: Updated:

In recent weeks, terrorists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood have gone on the rampage throughout Egypt, murdering security forces, placing explosive devices that have killed passersby, torching trains, trams and businesses. Coincidentally – or so I must suppose – this heightened terrorist activity was perceived just days after, when the U.S. State Department held meetings in Washington with members of a Muslim Brotherhood delegation that were said to be “fruitful.” Just two days after that visit, the Brotherhood called upon its followers to launch a holy war against the Egyptian authorities and to embrace martyrdom.

As widely reported by the U.S. media, including Fox News, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the visit was organized by Georgetown University, a claim the university later refuted. And now, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa channel airing from Turkey has warned foreigners to quit the country by Feb. 11 or face the consequences.

Shockingly, at a time when Egypt is under attack from within, the U.N., the EU and Britain’s Foreign Office, together with a slew of human rights agencies, have issued statements condemning the country’s human rights record. UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond just days ago called upon Egypt to release “political prisoners” knowing full well that all those detained are either awaiting trial for crimes committed or have been sentenced.

Tied hands

Whether in response to his nation’s critics or otherwise, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has advised the commander of the police force and the military “to be mindful of human rights,” which may result in their hands being tied.

My message to the Egyptian authorities is this: Do what it takes! What counts here are the rights of the 90 million that count on you to keep the streets safe, improve services and provide jobs

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Murderers masquerading as Muslims are no better than the flesh-eating zombies in such grotesque horror movies as “The Walking Dead.” These beings do not have a shred of humanity and are as such undeserving of human rights. While the world is still reeling from the stomach-churning sight of the young Jordanian pilot and devout Muslim Moaz al-Kasasbeh being incinerated by a gang of monsters while trapped in a metal cage, I applaud Jordan’s fast retaliatory response.

Within hours of the video appearing on social media, the Jordanian government executed two Iraqi terrorists – Sajida al-Rishawi and Zaid al-Karbouly – who had been sentenced to death in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Jordan had placed a moratorium on executions for years, but there is a very different mood within this grieving Arab country now. No doubt that human rights activists will soon be popping up on Twitter and Facebook weeping over the fate of that despicable pair.

What will it take for Egypt to wake-up to the fact that enemies of the state, who think nothing of shooting, bombing and burning to achieve their goals, must be treated with an iron fist? The international community condemns its judiciary for issuing mass death sentences, but few of those sentences are being carried out.

Life imprisonment in Egypt is rarely longer than 20 years, and history tells us that many sentenced to life in the past have either had their sentences commuted or have been the recipients of presidential pardons.

Need for change

I find it incomprehensible that the process requires rubber-stamping from the Grand Imam. The law should be changed to bar convicted terrorists or those working to bring down the state from appeals courts. Better still, they should be tried, convicted and summarily sentenced by military tribunals like inmates of Guantanamo. If that system is good enough for the U.S., then it’s good enough for all Arab states afflicted by this evil scourge.

The combined result is this: the death penalty is no longer acting as a deterrent to the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliated groups in northern Sinai and Egypt is beginning to look soft on terrorism. If that impression is permitted to take root, the government’s efforts to improve the economy so as to better the lives of 90 million citizens, 40 percent subsisting below the poverty line, will go for naught.

Violence and instability is the death knell for foreign investment - which Egypt so badly needs. It’s time that the powers that be show that they mean business; they must prove to their people who went to the street in their millions to give the then Field-Marshall al-Sisi a mandate to do whatever was necessary to eliminate traitorous terrorists, and that their safety, security and prosperity is the government’s number one goal.

Correct priorities

While I understand that the president and his team are eager to have good relations with other countries and are keen to show the world that Egypt is on the path to democracy with parliamentary elections scheduled for March, they need to get their priorities right. The eradication of terrorism by any means should trump diplomatic pandering to Western states that have actively impeded the country’s transition since the ouster of Mohammad Mursi in July 2013. The U.S. and its allies have been cuddling the Muslim Brotherhood ever since, while dismissing the will of the Egyptian people along with their hopes and aspirations.

Those countries have consistently wielded the human rights card over the heads of the Egyptian government like a weapon; never mind that they trashed their own human rights records with illegal wars, illegal renditions, illegal spying on citizens… the list is long. It’s almost laughable that those same countries, directly or indirectly, responsible for the death of up to a million of Iraqis, have been hammering Cairo for arresting three journalists, while staying silent on journalists languishing in Turkish prisons. Propaganda at its finest!

In a nutshell, my message to the Egyptian authorities is this: Do what it takes! What counts here are the rights of the 90 million that count on you to keep the streets safe, improve services and provide jobs. You should hold dear the rights of decent citizens over bombers and arsonists. Close your ears to the twittering of hypocritical outsiders who, if their own countries were under attack, would launch fierce crackdowns in the name of national security. The Arab world needs a strong, united Egypt. Please don’t let us down!


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Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and the has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad.Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.