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Kuwait extradites accused Muslim Brotherhood cell to Egypt

Kuwait has handed over to Egypt members of an alleged Muslim Brotherhood group in the country.

CAIRO — Deputy Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah announced that Kuwait handed over to Egypt members of a Muslim Brotherhood cell who were arrested July 12.

Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported July 14 that Jarallah said, “In accordance with joint agreements between the two countries, the Egyptian authorities were handed over those wanted by the Egyptian judiciary.” He deplored their presence in the Kuwaiti territories.

On July 12, Kuwait's Interior Ministry had announced the arrest of a Brotherhood-linked cell and the sentencing of its members to up to 15 years of prison, saying that they “hid from the Egyptian security services by moving to Kuwait.”

The ministry’s statement went on, “After subjecting them to a preliminary investigation, they confessed to having carried out terrorist attacks and security breaches in Egyptian territory.” The ministry underscored its zero tolerance for collaboration or involvement with terror cells or other organizations that threaten Egypt's security.

Security sources revealed to Kuwait’s al-Rai newspaper July 14 that the Egyptian authorities shared with their Kuwaiti counterparts information about the presence of wanted individuals in Kuwaiti territory and requested their extradition. Kuwait’s National Security Bureau conducted surveillance before apprehending them.

Al-Rai reported July 14 that the members of the cell took part in acts of vandalism after the the Rabia al-Adawiya protests were dispersed, and were an important part of the funding sources for the Egyptian Brotherhood, which Egypt labels as terrorist group.

The security sources explained that the eight detainees had been residing in Kuwait, saying, “Their names were mentioned during the Egyptian authorities’ investigations into individuals involved in terrorist attacks years ago. They had admitted to having partners in [the Brotherhood] with whom they have political, organizational and financial ties.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor over the phone, Khaled Okasha, a member of the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism, called the extradition “good cooperation between Egypt and Kuwait and an effort to tighten control over those Brotherhood members who are involved in acts of violence and terrorism.”

Okasha noted, “It is a sign that the Brotherhood cells and organizations involved in terrorist acts will be prosecuted even when they take another country as a safe haven,” he added. “The Egyptian authorities are able to act with the utmost professionalism. They submitted a dossier full of evidence that the cell is involved in acts of violence, despite the claims voiced by political opposition.”

Human Rights Watch denounced the extradition July 15.

Kuwaiti diplomatic sources told the press July 17 that the cell’s members were deported because of a judicial ruling issued against them in Egypt and not because they oppose the Egyptian government.

Okasha explained, “The Kuwaiti authorities did not take this step with the goal of pleasing their Egyptian counterparts. They made it clear that the evidence was thoroughly examined and this cell was investigated in Kuwait. [The members] admitted and spoke in detail about their involvement in terrorist acts in Egypt. [Their confession] indicates that the security services in the two countries are being serious and professional.”

KUNA quoted Jarallah as saying, “There is much cooperation and coordination at the security level between Egypt and Kuwait and we are satisfied with it. Such cooperation with our brethren in Egypt will continue and we share the view that one country’s security is an integral part of the second country’s security.” 

Kuwaiti-Egyptian relations have always been considered strong.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Sameh Eid, a researcher on Islamic movements, estimated the number of Brotherhood members that fled Egypt following the 2013 revolution at around 50,000. Some of them took up residence in the Arab Gulf countries, including Kuwait. He explained that although Kuwait is not among the countries that have labeled the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, there is security cooperation between Kuwait and Egypt.

Eid said, “Perhaps there is a change in the way Kuwait is dealing with the Brotherhood members present in its territories and this is a warning from the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry to the rest of these members against engaging in any activities there.”

The hashtag #minou al-kafeel, Arabic for "who is the sponsor," trended on Twitter in Kuwait July 17 as activists demanded that the authorities identify the individuals and entities that facilitated the Brotherhood cell’s entry into their country.

Asked about the Kuwaiti government possibly classifying the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, Jarallah said that Kuwait is not inclined to take such a step at present.

Kuwait’s al-Qabas reported July 14 that nearly 300 Egyptians affiliated with the Brotherhood have left Kuwait for Turkey, Australia, the United Kingdom and other Arab countries for fear of persecution in Egypt. 

Okasha explained, “Many Brotherhood cells involved in acts of violence inside and outside Egypt are expected to be unveiled. … The Egyptian security services are being serious and only taking action when there is strong evidence of the involvement of these members in cases of terrorism.”

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