The National Council to Confront Terrorism and Extremism (NCCTE) was created by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday, three months after he had announced his intentions to form the council following the bombing of two churches in the cities of Alexandria and Tanta during Palm Sunday celebrations.
According to the decree, the council is meant to “mobilize institutional and societal capabilities to limit the causes of terrorism and remedy its effects.”
The council brings together many public figures, including actor Mohamed Sobhy; Major General Fouad Allam, the former head of the National Security Agency; Osama al-Azhary, a presidential consultant for religious affairs; Ali Gomaa, former state mufti; as well as poet Farouk Goweida. The council also includes journalist Abdel Moneim Said; Mohamed Saber Arab, the former culture minister; psychiatrist Ahmed Okasha; lawyer Ragai Attiyya; Dia Rashwan, a journalist and the head of State Information Service; Hoda Abdel Moneim Labib, a Supreme Media Regulatory Council member; Hani Labib Morgan, a journalist and writer; and security consultant Khaled Okasha.
The council also includes 10 ministers: the ministers of interior, foreign affairs, education, higher education and scientific research, youth and sports, social solidarity, justice, communications and information technology, endowments and defence. In addition to the ministers, the prime minister, speaker of parliament, commander of the Armed Forces, grand imam of Al-Azhar, head of the Coptic Church, head of the General Intelligence Service and head of the Administrative Oversight Authority.
The council will construct a comprehensive strategy to confront terrorism, study legislation related to fighting terrorism, and author “necessary plans to inform the international community about the truth of terrorist organizations.”
The council will also oversee the implementation of procedures relating to the seizure of funds of terrorist entities, a function already carried out by a committee formed in 2014, which has since been sued for carrying out a function that is legally viable only through courts.
The president will call the council to convene every two months or at his discretion.
Confrontations between Egyptian security forces and militant groups has spiked in the past years in North Sinai and Nile Delta governorates. The Islamic State continually attacks churches and monasteries, leaving scores dead.