Egypt's Intelligence Agency Releases Film to Improve Image

Article Summary
Egypt’s intelligence apparatus broadcast a documentary glorifying its role in protecting against subversives and “Zionist” infiltrators, writes Ahmad Rahim. It released the propaganda to refute accusations that it used torture and killed demonstrators during the revolution, in an attempt to improve its standing in the nation.

For the first time in the history of Egypt, the General Intelligence Services (GIS) has produced a documentary on the 57th anniversary of its establishment that discusses the organization’s role and “achievements.” The move appeared to be an attempt to improve the body’s image after the criticism it received regarding the investigations into the killing of demonstrators during the revolution. According to the attorney general, the security services — including the GIS — did not cooperate in uncovering the truth and facts related to the killings.

The GIS broadcasted an hour-long documentary entitled Word of a Nation on several TV channels. The film presents the apparatus’ “achievements” since its establishment, and carries accounts of its [alleged] foiling of repeated Israeli attempts to plant spies in Egypt in order to obtain military, economic and political information. The film sought to highlight the regional “threat of the Zionist entity” — which was described as “the US’ military arm”  — and the GIS’s stands against these attempts. The documentary also described the GIS as being “the fifth most powerful intelligence apparatus in the world.”

The film talked about the two deceased Egyptian presidents, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, and praised their ability to “confront Israel's schemes.” It avoided mentioning the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and praised the January 25 Revolution that toppled him.

The film referred to Iran and the “hostile winds” blowing from it when it mentioned the arrest of Egyptian national Mahmoud Eid Dabbous, and the allegations against Iranian diplomat Reda Doust for “committing acts of sabotage in the country.” The film displayed a “document” saying that Dabbous agreed to “cooperate with the Iranian diplomat, under the [command] of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, to assassinate Mubarak.”

The film did not reveal anything new regarding the arrest of suspected spies. It only showcased previously announced operations, and the “efforts” of the intelligence services to arrest malevolents. It also highlighted “their help to resist any attempts to infiltrate the domestic front.”

The film featured shots from within the museum located inside the GIS headquarters as it presents evidence against the suspected spies. It also displays their pictures and reads off the sentences issued against them. The film stressed that the information being revealed about the GIS “is only a small part [of their work].” The documentary also features footage of officers interrogating suspected spies, as well as the spies’ subsequent confessions.

The GIS was keen to show the defendants in the film confessing in neat clothes and luxurious seats, speaking with the investigator as if they were having a debate. This portrayal was an indirect response to the accusations of torture that have been directed toward the GIS.

Remarkably, the GIS stressed in the film that it had detected attempts to assassinate prominent figures, whose names were not specified, since the revolution, “after the security services seized a smuggled shipment of weapons, with the help of the GIS, which were to be used to carry out assassinations.”

The GIS underlined its role in “preserving the integrity of the country after the revolution, intervening to secure the economic situation with the assistance of the armed forces, as well as maintaining security.”

Mohammad Mujahid al-Zayat, vice president of the National Center for Middle East Studies, said that the movie “aims to give the citizens a true picture and raise awareness of the GIS’ activities, since it is responsible for preserving national security in the comprehensive sense.”

Tarek Fahmy, head of the Israeli Studies department at the center, said that showing a film in the media about the role of the GIS “is very significant, as it provides a documented picture of the GIS, not mere opinions about its leaders and employees.”

“It is a significant and remarkable thing that the GIS took the initiate to show this film to inform the public of its activities from the original source,” he said. He described this approach as “positive and encouraging.”

Ambassador Mohammad Ibrahim Shaker, president of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said that “the film was shown at an appropriate time, given the overall changes occurring in Egypt. It was necessary to explain the important role of the GIS as an apparatus for the whole nation, and to show that this role is still present to protect the country from the risks and threats it is facing.”

Found in: propaganda, documentary film, torture, spies, killing, israel, general intelligence services (gis), egyptian revolution, demonstrators

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