Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, a Sinai-based militant group, declared responsibility on Tuesday for the killing of Mohamed Mabrouk, the State Security officer killed on Sunday, but despite this most of Wednesday’s papers remain focused on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The group said in a statement shared on a number of jihadi websites that the killing of Mabrouk came in response to “the detention of the brave women” in reference to the protesters who were arrested earlier this month in Alexandria during demonstrations against the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
The statement added that this operation is one of several that aims to “free the women prisoners from the hands of the tyrants.”
State-owned daily Al-Ahram reported that security forces have so far managed to detain 32 suspected of involvement in Mabrouk’s killing. It added that the investigative team has uncovered precise information on the incident, but in its article, published in the fourth page of the day’s third edition, little information was revealed.
Meanwhile, most privately owned dailies ran the story on their front pages. On privately owned daily Al-Shorouk’s front page, the headline reads, “Al-Shorouk has cracked the code of the assassination of Mabrouk,” while on the front page of privately-owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, the headline reads “Investigations: The martyr [Mabrouk] discovered Hassan Malek and 65 Brotherhood members received money and weapons.” Malek is a businessman and leading Brotherhood figure in Alexandria. On the front page of another privately-owned daily, Al-Watan, beneath a photograph of the killed officer, the headline reads, “Sources: Interior minister considering the dismissal of a number of national security officers.”
Al-Shorouk’s report about the assassination of Mabrouk quotes anonymous security sources who told the newspaper that the security services are investigating leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood currently imprisoned on charges of incitement to violence, and have asked them about the deceased officer. The newspaper said that the investigation showed that imprisoned leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood had information on Mabrouk, information passed onto them by Ayman Hodhod, also currently imprisoned, who had been security adviser to former President Mohamed Morsi.
Al-Shorouk also said that leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat al-Shater used to regularly go to the State Security headquarters when Morsi was in power. The newspaper reports that Hodhod obtained a lot of information about national security officers and forced a number to leave their posts and even the country.
Another title in Al-Shorouk’s coverage of the case reads, “The Brotherhood penetrated [National Security] apparatus and recruited a number of its officers and asked them to spy on security leaders for the benefit of the group.”
This line of reporting is reflected in Al-Watan’s coverage, central of which is the news that Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim has the files of 50 officers of national security in preparation for “cleansing” of the security apparatus.
Mahmoud Gaber, the lawyer representing the imprisoned women in Alexandria, rejects the accusations levelled against the Muslim Brotherhood, which he says are made without clear evidence. Gaber told Mada Masr that the media are leading the way in making accusations against the Brotherhood without any evidence being released by the ministry who have yet to accuse anyone of any specific crimes.
“The media are talking about Ansar Beit al-Maqdes who have claimed responsibility for the incident, so why are they still talking about Brotherhood involvement?”
Gaber added, “Recent history testifies to the Brotherhood’s non-involvement in any acts of violence, since Sadat released them from prison in the 1970s.” Gaber said that in none of the military trials faced by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Mubarak era did they face direct accusations of pursuing violence or possessing of weapons.
Fouad Allam, a security expert, told Mada Masr that “the Brotherhood are involved in everything that has happened since Morsi released from prison many involved in terrorist acts, and allowed the return of jihadis from different countries, and the opening of the border with Gaza illegally, all of which have formed the nucleus of terrorist groups in the Sinai and elsewhere.”
Allam added that “the picture is very clear,” adding that there are clues and techniques of investigation and analysis followed by the security agencies to get to the truth. He stressed that it would be naive to deny the involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood, even after Ansar Beit al-Maqdes claimed responsibility for the incident.
But Gaber said that the first who released these jihadis was SCAF who ruled the country for a year and a half before Morsi’s presidency, and not the deposed president. He added that “Morsi also released some jihadis, but this happened after investigations carried out by the security apparatus, and after their agreement and approval of the names.”
“No one heard about Ansar Beit al-Maqdes until after the coup, and this confirms that they are a non-existent group and it is a cover for a hidden who are seeking to maintain the state of emergency, and to keep the current security situation.”