In an unusual moment of transparency, the Interior Ministry disclosed that 11,877 people have been arrested on terrorism-related charges since the beginning of 2015.
Kamal al-Daly, the deputy minister for general security, gave this figure during an interview with the state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper on Thursday. He did not indicate how many of these people have been referred to trial, released or kept in jail pending investigations, but did note that they were all arrested in connection to 171 separate terrorism-related cases.
Daly also acknowledged that the ministry has still not identified the perpetrators of several recent attacks, including the Italian Consulate bombing, the assassination of former Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat and the bombing of the national security building in Shubra.
When asked about the bombings in Sinai over the past few weeks, Daly asserted that “Sinai is completely secure and most of [the recent explosions] were caused by bombs planted months ago.”
He also denied rumors that the assassination of Nour Party candidate Mostafa Abdel Rahman, who was killed on October 24 in North Sinai, was connected to his bid for parliament.
“Preliminary information suggests the involvement of jihadi elements, who are being monitored. Rahman was targeted because he attacked the [Islamic State-affiliated Province of Sinai] in many sermons in mosques. He was a 33-year-old pharmacist, and his candidacy is unrelated [to his assassination] by four bullets from a machine gun,” Daly said.
The government is currently working on bringing 295 wanted fugitives back to the country, Daly continued. Since January, Egypt has successfully extradited “six members of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group” with the help of Interpol, he said, notably including Ghoneim Mohamed Refai, who was found living in Jordan. Refai was sentenced to life in prison on charges of storming the Matay police station in Minya and killing a police officer.
Daly also speculated that the Interior Ministry would start construction work on a new headquarters in New Cairo at the beginning of 2016, following celebrations for Police Day — which coincides with official celebrations for the anniversary of the January 25 revolution.