Egypt’s prisons are becoming recruiting grounds for ISIS

By | April 9, 2019

Amy Woodyatt writes:

As the Islamic State suffered defeat in its final Syrian stronghold of Baghouz last month, the White House declared victory over the self-declared caliphate, announcing via Twitter that it has been “obliterated off the map.” But human rights organizations and activists are warning that far from the front lines, recruitment for the Islamic State and other extremist groups is increasing in Egypt’s prisons, where appalling prisoner conditions have accelerated recruitment.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has presided over what has been described by Human Rights Watch as “Egypt’s worst human rights crisis in decades.” Human Rights Watch estimated in 2016 that more than 60,000 people had been arrested or charged in Egypt since Sisi’s predecessor was ousted in a 2013 coup, with the arrests targeting a broad group of political opponents. Hussein Baoumi, an Egypt researcher for Amnesty International, said, “In Egypt, it is one of the worst periods in terms of crackdowns and arbitrary arrests. People can be arrested in Egypt for absolutely no reason at all.”

Egypt already has a history of militancy and extremism flourishing behind bars—al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is among the high-profile jihadis radicalized in the country’s prisons. But Amnesty has branded Sisi’s crackdown on civil liberties “unparalleled in Egypt’s recent history,” with people being detained for “satire, tweeting, supporting football clubs, denouncing sexual harassment, editing movies.” In 2015, the government acknowledged that prisons were 160 percent over capacity, and the U.S. State Department since then has referenced life-threatening overcrowding. Estimates of the prison population vary, but in 2016, World Prison Brief estimated that around 90,000 prisoners, whether political or not, were held in the country’s prisons, with another 16,000 people held in its jails. Meanwhile, it is estimated that 18 new prisons have been built in the last six years, according to Human Rights Watch. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.