S E C R E T CAIRO 000886
DS/IP/ITA, DS/IP/NEA, NEA/LEA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2016 TAGS: ASEC, EG, PTER SUBJECT: SECURITY ENVIRONMENT PROFILE QUESTIONNAIRE (SEPQ) FOR CAIRO AND ALEXANDRIA (SEPQ) SPRING 2009
REF: A. CAIRO 329 B. CAIRO 290
Classified By: [Text removed by Aftenposten] for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
The following are Post´s Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) responses for Cairo and Alexandria.
------------------- POLITICAL VIOLENCE -------------------
1. (SBU) DEMONSTRATIONS
A. ARE THERE ANY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN COUNTRY CAPABLE OF CARRYING OUT SIGNIFICANT ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS?
(SBU) Yes. There are extremist Islamic elements that vocally express their frustration, largely through the media, with U.S. policies.
B. HAVE THERE BEEN ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE COUNTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
(SBU) There have been no demonstrations specifically targeting the United States facilities or interests.
C. HAVE DEMONSTRATIONS TAKEN PLACE NEAR OR IN FRONT OF U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES?
(SBU) Yes. Tahrir Square is located within an eighth of a mile from the U.S. Embassy and is the favored public square for staging demonstrations. In December of 2008 3000 protesters upset with the Israeli military´s actions in Gaza protested in Tahrir Square. The overwhelming majority of these demonstrations are peaceful. The GOE law enforcement is very pro-active in containing demonstrations and routinely deploys overwhelming numbers of police in the vicinity of the Embassy. The GOE does not allow access to areas immediately around USG facilities.
D. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SIZE OF AN ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATION?
(SBU) Size ranges from 100-200 demonstrators.
E. ARE ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS USUALLY TRIGGERED BY U.S. FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES, MILITARY ACTIONS, OR BY DOMESTIC ISSUES?
(SBU) Most recent demonstrations specific to the U.S. were triggered by the January 2008 visit of President Bush. In the past, when anti-American sentiment is seen within a demonstration, it is usually triggered by the Israeli/Palestinian issue or the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The December 2008, Israeli incursion into Gaza elicited a large number of demonstrators throughout the country with reports of up to 50,000 protesters at some locations. Although the U.S. was not the focus, the U.S. was associated with the GOE and Government of Israel.
F. ARE DEMONSTRATIONS GENERALLY VIOLENT OR PEACEFUL?
(SBU) Demonstrations generally are peaceful, but can turn violent without warning. The GOE law enforcement entities are usually sufficient to control protests.
G. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATIONS RESULTED IN DAMAGE TO USG PROPERTY OR INJURIES TO USG EMPLOYEES?
H. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATORS EVER PENETRATED OUR PERIMETER SECURITY LINE?
I. HAVE THERE BEEN ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE COUNTRY WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
(SBU) Yes. In early 2008, acute shortages of flat bread led to large anti-government demonstrations and riots. President Mubarak alleviated this by ordering the Army to take over production and distribution of government-subsidized bread. The Israeli action into Gaza in early 2009 also sparked protests with one reported to have over 50,000 participants in Alexandria. The protesters were upset due to the belief that the Egyptian government was not doing enough to support Gaza during the conflict.
J. HAVE DEMONSTRATIONS TAKEN PLACE NEAR OR IN FRONT OF U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES?
(SBU) Yes. Generally demonstrations are not allowed in the direct vicinity of the U.S. facilities. However, Tahrir square is a favorite area for staging protests and will surely be used in the future. The square is within a short five minute walk from the U.S. Embassy. It should also be noted that post rents a number of parking spaces in an underground garage directly below the square for employee use. See response 1C.
K. WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SIZE OF AN ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION?
(SBU) Public demonstrations are banned in Egypt under a 25-year-old state emergency decree, but the previously mentioned bread riots were reported to contain thousands of protesters. One bread riot in June 2008 contained approximately 8,000 protesters. Smaller protests have been tolerated around mosques and university campuses. As mentioned previously, one protest in Alexandria was reported to have 50,000 people.
L. ARE DEMONSTRATIONS GENERALLY VIOLENT OR PEACEFUL?
(U) While generally peaceful, in April 2008, large scale rioting took place in Mahalla and Burullous in the Nile Delta region. Public demonstrations against rising food prices and poor labor conditions led to violent confrontations with security forces and hundreds of arrests and conflicting reports of casualties. During these riots an Egyptian 15-year-old boy was shot and killed by police. It should also be noted that in December 2005 Egyptian security forces, while breaking-up the months-long peaceful Sudanese sit-down protest at the Cairo office of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR resorted to force while removing the demonstrators. I was reported that 27 demonstrators were killed in the melee.
M. IF VIOLENT, HAVE ANY DEMONSTRATIONS RESULTED IN DAMAGE TO USG PROPERTY?
2. (SBU) MACRO CONFLICT CONDITIONS
A. IS THE HOST COUNTRY ENGAGED IN AN INTERSTATE OR INTRASTATE CONFLICT? (THIS MAY INCLUDE BATTLES BETWEEN ORGANIZED AND VIOLENT DRUG CARTELS)
(U) No. But there have been sporadic terror attacks launched by small, dissident jihadist/criminal elements in Sinai. The GOE has deemed these Sinai Bedouin groups such as Al-Tawid wa al-Jihad ("Unity and Jihad") or ATAJ, responsible for the April 2006 Dahab bombings and twin suicide bombings outside of a Multi-National Force (MFO) observer base. Furthermore, the GOE has implicated these groups in the 2004 Taba bombing, the 2005 Sharm el Sheikh attacks and the IED targeting one MFO mission vehicle in August 2005.
B. IF AN INTRASTATE CONFLICT, IS IT AN INSURGENCY LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC REGION OR IS IT A COUNTRYWIDE CIVIL WAR?
C. IF LIMITED TO A SPECIFIC REGION, ARE ANY U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES LOCATED IN THIS REGION?
D. HAVE ANY OF THE FACTIONS INVOLVED IN INTRASTATE CONFLICTS SIGNALED OR DEMONSTRATED AN ANTI-AMERICAN ORIENTATION?
(U) No ---------------------------------- 3. (SBU) HOST COUNTRY CAPABILITIES -----------------------------------
A. ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES PROFESSIONAL AND WELL-TRAINED?
(C) The officer corps of the GOE law enforcement and security services are well trained and career-oriented, however, corruption is pervasive throughout the security services. The lower ranking personnel within the police services are poorly paid, poorly trained and ill-equipped. Members of the Egyptian Central Security Forces (paramilitary organization) receive a higher degree of training than Egyptian police units, are well led and perform well when called upon to maintain public order. Members of the State Security Investigative Service (internal security service) and the Protection Department (Protective Security for foreign and domestic dignitaries) are also well trained and motivated. The Police, Central Security Forces, State Security and Protection Department all fall under the Ministry of Interior.
B. HAVE THEY BEEN TRAINED BY U.S. AGENCIES? IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE ON EFFECTIVENESS OF TRAINING.
(SBU) The USG has provided significant training to the GOE security and law enforcement personnel through the Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program, FBI training opportunities, the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and other USG agency initiatives. The effectiveness of this training can be seen when working alongside Egyptian counterparts on investigations, dignitary protection, and security for large events.
C. ARE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES CONFRONTED WITH SERIOUS, WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION INSIDE THEIR AGENCIES?
(U) Yes, however, even though there is significant corruption within the police apparatus, this does not negatively affect their creditable support for American and other diplomatic missions. While not always the case, the most common corruption is met with some Egyptian cultural acceptance. Although it does affect the professional capabilities of the security services.
D. ARE THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES PROFESSIONAL AND CAPABLE OF DETERRING TERRORIST ACTIONS?
(SBU) Yes. The GOE intelligence, law enforcement and security services continue to remain an effective deterrent to terrorist activities.
E. HAVE THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES BEEN COOPERATIVE WITH U.S. EMBASSY REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION AND SUPPORT?
(U) Yes/No. The GOE is responsive to requests for support, but very slow to provide information.
F. ASSUMING THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNIFICANT TERRORIST THREATS IN RECENT YEARS, HAVE HOST COUNTRY SECURITY SERVICES BEEN ABLE TO SCORE ANY MAJOR ANTI-TERRORISM SUCCESSES?
(SBU) Yes. In late 2008 Egyptian authorities arrested 24 members of a group controlled by Hizballah that they believed were in the planning process of conducting attacks within Egypt. In 2007, the GOE announced that they had apprehended the terrorist cell responsible for the 2005 bomb attacks in Cairo. The Egyptian security forces pointed at a group called ATAJ as the principal culprits. Likewise, the GOE stated that the April 2006 Dahab bombings and the attacks targeting the MFO bases were also carried out by ATAJ. The GOE further pointed to links between ATAJ and the attacks in Taba, Sharm El Sheikh, and previous MFO attacks.
G. HAS HOST COUNTRY BEEN RESPONSIVE (RE: TIMELINESS AND ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES) TO EMBASSY REQUESTS FOR PROTECTIVE SECURITY?
(SBU) Yes. The GOE continues to devote ample resources in the protections of American personnel, property, and interests.
H. HOW DOES THE EMBASSY ASSESS THE OVERALL SECURITY AT MAJOR AIRPORTS IN THE COUNTRY? (EXCELLENT; VERY GOOD, GOOD/AVERAGE; POOR
(SBU) While overall security is generally good, some security personnel are underpaid and are sometimes seen half-heartedly screening or operating equipment.
I. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION CONTROL AGENCIES? (EFFECTIVE; AVERAGE; INEFFECTIVE)
(U) Average. Although far from ineffective, Egypt´s customs and immigration controls are routinely overloaded by the overwhelming volume of activity and lack some modern equipment which would aid efficiency.
J. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE BORDER PATROL FORCES? EFFECTIVE; AVERAGE INEFFECTIVE)
(U) Average. While generally effective, border patrol forces were caught unaware and unable to deal with the Hamas-orchestrated border incursion at Rafah in January 2008, which led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians entering Egypt illegally. Also in September of 2008 19 European tourists and their Egyptian tour guides where kidnapped by an unidentified group 150 kilometers north of Egypt´s southern border. The kidnappers where able to take the tourist group across Egypt´s southern border and into northern Sudan where the kidnappers demanded a ransom for the groups release. This illustrates that the borders are porous, generally uninhabited, in extremely harsh areas and not always clearly marked.
-------------------- INDIGENOUS TERRORISM --------------------
4. (SBU) ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUPS
A. ARE THERE INDIGENOUS, ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST GROUPS IN COUNTRY?
(S/NF) No. While indigenous groups are active and may target western interests to embarrass the government of Egypt, they do not single out American locations or personnel. There are continued reports that Al-Qaeda operatives are attempting to create alliances with indigenous groups, but there are no indications that these groups are operational.
B. IF YES, HOW MANY? PLEASE NAME GROUPS.
C. HAVE GROUPS CARRIED OUT ANTI-AMERICAN ATTACKS WITHIN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
D. WERE ANY OF THESE LETHAL ATTACKS?
E. HAVE GROUPS ATTACKED U.S. DIPLOMATIC TARGETS?
(U) No. However, In April of 2006 and October of 2005, ATAJ attacked the Multinational Force Observer Group (MFO) stationed in the Sinai with twin suicide attacks. Although a total of 10 countries make up the Multi-National Force, there is a large American contingent.
F. HAVE GROUPS ATTACKED U.S. BUSINESS, U.S. MILITARY, OR U.S. RELATED TARGETS?
G. HAVE GROUPS LIMITED THEIR ATTACKS TO SPECIFIC REGIONS OR DO THEY OPERATE COUNTRY-WIDE?
(SBU) ATAJ operates in the North Sinai region
H. IF ATTACKS ARE LIMITED TO REGIONS, ARE THERE ANY U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES LOCATED IN THESE REGIONS?
5. (SBU) OTHER INDIGENOUS TERRORIST GROUPS
A. ARE THERE OTHER INDIGENOUS TERRORIST GROUPS (NOT ANTI-AMERICAN) IN COUNTRY?
B. IF YES, HOW MANY? PLEASE NAME GROUPS.
C. HAVE GROUPS CARRIED OUT ATTACKS IN THE CAPITAL OR IN AREAS WHERE U.S. DIPLOMATIC FACILITIES ARE LOCATED?
(S) Yes. On February 22, 2009 and April 7th, 2005 there was an attack at a tourist bazaar and on April 30th, 2005 there were two additional attacks within the downtown Cairo area. The first attack on April 30th took place within one mile of the U.S. Embassy. The GOE believes these attacks were carried out by individuals rather than an organized group except for the 2009 attack which is still under investigation.
(S) On May 12, 2009 an explosive device placed under a car exploded outside a Christian church in Cairo. A second explosive device was found twenty feet from the first devise and was disabled before it detonated. There were no reported casualties. Egyptian authorities are investigating, but they have not get determined who is responsible.
D. WERE ATTACKS LETHAL AND/OR INDISCRIMINATE?
(U) Yes. The bomb attacks at the Khan al-Khalili bazaar on February 22, 2009 and April 7, 2005 resulted in 4 deaths, of which one was American.
E. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY AMERICANS KILLED OR INJURED IN THESE ATTACKS?
(U) Yes. One American citizen perished in the April 7, 2005 terrorist attack.
----------------------- TRANSNATIONAL TERRORISM -----------------------
6. (SBU) TRANSNATIONAL TERRORIST INDICATORS
A. ARE THERE ANY FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUPS THAT HAVE A PRESENCE IN COUNTRY? PROVIDE NAMES.
(S) Yes. GOE in late 2008 arrested 24 members of a Hizballah controlled group that the GOE stated was in the process of planning unspecified attacks. GOE states that they are seeking 24 additional suspects that are still at large. GOE current targeting of group operations is successful, however violent extremism in Egypt is becoming less centralized and amorphous. This change gives foreign terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Hizballah the ability to quickly adhere to or separate from other groups at will and with little indication of their intention.
B. HOW DOES POST ASSESS THIS PRESENCE? IS IT AN OPERATIONAL CELL? FINANCIAL CELL? SUPPORT CELL? PROPAGANDA CELL?
(U) The Hizballah cell was considered operational.
C. IS THE HOST GOVERNMENT SYMPATHETIC TO THESE GROUPS?
(U) N/A. The GOE is adamantly opposed to any/all terrorist organizations.
D. ARE THERE SUSPECT NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS NGOS) IN THE COUNTRY THAT HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH ANY OF THESE GROUPS?
E. ARE THERE ANY ETHNIC OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN COUNTRY THAT ARE SYMPATHETIC TO THESE GROUPS?
(SBU) There is a significant portion of the Egyptian population that supports the political goals of the above mentioned groups.
F. HOW DOES POST ASSESS THE LEVEL, INTENT, AND SCOPE OF HOSTILE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES (IRAN, SYRIA, SUDAN, ET. AL.) IN COUNTRY RELATIVE TO POTENTIAL ANTI-AMERICAN TERRORIST ACTS?
(C) Medium. Hostile intelligence services maintain a high presence in Egypt as a result of the diplomatic representation of their countries. However, all known and suspected foreign intelligence officers are heavily scrutinized and monitored by the Egyptian intelligence services.
G. HOW DOES POST ASSESS THE AVAILABILITY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES IN COUNTRY OR FROM NEARBY COUNTRIES FOR HOSTILE TERRORIST ELEMENTS?
(C) High. Weapons and explosives continue to remain readily accessible in Egypt. The continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict has created a steady market for arms smuggling into the Gaza region.