From the Capital of Hell.
| February 26,2016
“If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.”- Former CIA official Robert Baer, in Stephen Grey, “America’s gulag,” The New Statesman, 17 May 2004. As cited in the Human Rights Watch article “Black Hole,” in 2005, through this link .
Enforced Disappearance: From , what you will read now is happening in Egypt….
December, 19, 2015.
In the midst of the increasing cases of enforced disappearance and the killing of many of those who have been secretly abducted by the Egyptian Government, The Minister of Internal Affairs issued a decision to appoint Major General Mahmoud Sayed Abdelhamid Sharawy as president of the State Security Investigation Services (SSI), the main security and intelligence bureau in Egypt.
Warning: This content contains details of torture and appalling testimonies that might not be suitable for all ages.
After the torture and the killing of Mr. Ahmed Jalal, Mohamed Hamad, and most recently the Italian Researcher Giulio Regeni by the State Security Investigation Bureau (SSI), I decided to write about the petrifying and increasing trend of enforced disappearance in Egypt. With the assistance of The International Association of Rights and Freedoms and Elnadwa Institue for Rights and Freedoms, I was capable of running tens of interviews with people who were once secretly abducted by the SSI.
Its been an ongoing war with my pen for the last couple of weeks, probably because of my fear of the consequences of writing this report, but the screams of the hundreds who were secretly abducted continuously haunted me in my sleep.
I cannot deny that I couldn’t sleep for a period of time after hearing the testimonies of former abductees in the SSI branch in LaZoghli, claiming that they were tortured severely in their private parts, to the point where their penis’s were literally roasted from how much they were electrocuted in such a sensitive area. Others have gone insane from the petrifying amounts of torture they were receiving. More painful were the tens of heart-breaking letters and calls from the families of the abductees. I tried to escape from the horrifying reality with sleep, only to wake up terrified from the haunting screams of the abductees pleading for help.
I am writing this now, so maybe I can sleep one day without being haunted in my dreams by the pleading screams of the abductees, and the sorrow filled tears of their families.
This article is dedicated to all those who have lost their lives under the hands of the brutal tortious system of Egypt. Dedicated to Sayed Belal, Mohamed Hamdan, Ahmed Galal, and the many others who I do not know that died under torture.
First let me introduce you to the new director of the SSI
Major General Mahmoud Sayed Abdelhamid Sharawy was promoted and appointed on December,19,2015 from the assistant minister and director of an administrative branch in the SSI to the assistant minister of internal affairs of the SSI.
Born in 1959, he graduated from the police academy in 1980, he was immediately appointed prior to his graduation in the SSI. He is the brother of Major General Mohammed Sharawy a former assistant to the infamous former minister of internal affairs Habeeb Eladly in the Mubarak Regime.
ElSharawy was from the most wanted by the Egyptian Revolution, due to his conviction in torture crimes. During that time he was still a colonel, and was infamous for being one of the most prominent torture officers in Mubarak’s regime under the leadership of Major General Mohamed Said, head of the counter-religious extremism department in Cairo.
Before his promotion ElSharawy was head of the public administration department against extremist activity. One of his biggest “successes” was the case of Arab Sharkes. Also to clearly mention that during his reign the number of enforced disappearances went exceedingly high, as many human rights agencies have pointed out.
But the victims of Sharawy don’t even know his real name, due to the fact that the SSI officers currently use code names inside the system and with their victims.
What’s Sharawy’s code name?
Sharawys code name inside the SSI was Mohammed Lasheen , his victims describe him as the “devil,” and others call him “the filthy.”
I tried looking for a picture of him, but I couldn’t find it due to the fact that the images of the directors of the SSI are usually kept confidential. But with the assistance of a professional artist and the gathered testimonies from various sources, we were able to sketch the following picture:
Many may find it confusing that Sharawy was immediately hired in the SSI after his graduation from the police academy, but that confusion should drift away when you remember that his brother Mohammed Sayed Sharawy was an official in the SSI at the time, before becoming the head of the SSI, till he was ousted after the events of Al-Nakhilla Village in the Governorte of Asyut in 2003.
Sharawy continued the road his brother paved until he became the current head of the SSI.
Sharawy first started as the head of an SSI branch in Shubra Elkhema , he worked under the supervision of Major General Mohameed Saeed, infamous for being “heartless during torture.” He tortured his victims in many ways, the most known were
- Hitting the victim with wide plank, till the head becomes swollen
- Handcuffing the victim’s hands from behind, then attaching a rail or a rope to the handcuffs, then hanging the victim from his hands.
- Electrocuting the victim in the head, nipples, penis, and testicles
- Severely beating the back of the victims foot, then forcing the victim to jump on his feet in order to relieve the swelling , before the victim is presented in front of court.
Before and after Sharawys promotion, human rights agencies have observed an increasing in the cases of enforced disappearances. According to The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom there were 3 daily cases of enforced disappearances in 2015.
Various sources have reported that the reason behind the promotion of Sharawy was due to his firmness, control, and his successive successes in killing armed cells, and immediate public lynches on people suspected to hold weaponry , people that support the idea of an armed revolution, and people that refuse to give information about any movement the Egyptian regime finds itself threatened by.
On January 10, 2016 Mohamed Hamdan Mohamed Ali from Beni Suef was abducted by the SSI. Ali’s family has sent an official telegraph to the ministry of internal affairs to ask about the whereabouts of Ali, as seen in the picture below:
The Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs has denied that he was abducted by the SSI. Only to come on January,25,2016 and claim that he was killed during an armed conflict. Below is the picture of Ali’s body in the morgue with gunshot wounds and evident marks of torure, as seen in the following image:
The Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs has denied that he was abducted by the SSI. Only to come on January,25,2016 and claim that he was killed during an armed conflict. Below is the picture of Ali’s body in the morgue with gunshot wounds and evident marks of torure, as seen in the following image:
This is not the first incident; this incident was preceded months before with
- The execution of Mohammed Ahmed Alnajar, from Gharbia in an apartment in Giza, by the SSI
- The execution of a group of youth, in an apartment in Elshorouq City in Cairo, by the SSI
- The abduction and execution of Ahmed Abdelhaqeem by the SSI
- The execution of Muslim Brotherhood Members in an apartment in the city of Sixth of October in Giza Governorate, by the SSI.
Were these incidents and “accomplishments” in the eyes of the regime the reason behind the promotion of Major General Mahmoud Sharawy to become the head director of the SSI?
It looks as if the latter incidents were the reason behind his promotion. He did not only stop with the execution of Mohamed Hamad Ali but continued with the same trend. Ahmed Galal Ahmed Mohamed Ismael form the city of Rehab in the Governorate of Cairo was abducted by the SSI on January,20,2016. Ismael’s family quickly sent a telegraph to the ministry of internal affairs, as seen in the following picture:
Ismael disappeared for 12 days, till his family received a phone call on January,31,2016 from the Zeinhom Morgue telling them that their son was killed with a bullet.
Ismael left behind his wife, after a year of marriage. Ismael’s wife was two months pregnant when the SSI killed her husband.
As a result of the absence of law, and with the increased support of the international system to the Egyptian regime, the Egyptian regime is given a sense of divinity. There is an evident increase in enforced disappearance, this time the SSI targeted the Italian Research Giulio Regeni
Giulio Regeni is an Italian Researcher and a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. He went to Egypt to do research related to his studies and to write about the deteriorating situation in Egypt. The SSI secretly abducted him on January,25,2016 only to be found on February,3,2016 dead, half naked, thrown in a hole on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road, only a few kilometers away from the nearest SSI branch in the city of The Sixth of October.
According to Arabi21 News Agency, which cited Reuters News Agency, Regeni’s autopsy report proved that seven of his ribs were broken, in addition to signs of electric shock in his penis, internal injuries throughout his body, bleeding in the brain, severe wounds (caused by sharp objects), abrasions and bruises caused by a severe attack with a plank, punches and kicks.
After the incident many countries have came to realize the impact of their continuous support to the Egyptian Regime.
Now, after I have revealed the code name of the director of the SSI and placed it next to his real name, it should be easier for the victims of this criminal to record what happened to them and to file a suit against him that will follow him everywhere.
Secondly, I believe it is of great importance to not only speak about the director of the SSI, but to also speak about the history of the bureau.
In the year of 1913, the British Occupation with the help of Egyptian Police Officers established the Political Security Apparatus to track the movement of the national resistance and the leaders of the national resistance in the Governorates of Cairo and Alexandria in particular, and from its departments was the “private department.”
The first director of the Political Security Apparatus was the Governor of Cairo , Major General Saleem Zaki who shares close ties with the British Occupation. The duty of Major General Zaki at the time was to track down members of the resistance and national movement that focused specifically on assassinating British Occupiers and their supporters. One of the first accomplishments of the Political Security Organization was the arrest of young Egyptian Patriots who assassinated Major General Sir Lee Stack a British army officer and governor-general of Egypt and Sudan.
The Political Security Organization has had different names through different times and regimes including: The Ad Hoc Department, The Political Pen, Public Investigation Bureau , State Security Investigations Bureau, The Department of State Security Investigations, State Security Apparatus, and Homeland Security.
To note, the Political Security Organization is one of the few departments that the leaders of the July 23,1952 revolution did not remove. On August,1952 ( a month after the revolution,) the new regime renamed it “The Public Interrogations Bureau,” then later they restructured the Public Interrogations Bureau to better suit the new establishment of the revolution. Then on May of the year 1971, former President Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat came with what he calls the “ Rectification Revolution” to change the name of the Public Interrogations Bureau to become “The State Security Interrogations Bureau.” A few modifications to the name were made every now and then until the Egyptian Revolution on January,25,2011. During the Egyptian Revolution many SSI branches were raided on March 4 and 5 of the year of 2011 by revolutionists. Later on March 15,2011 the new Egyptian military government issued a statement declaring the abolishment of the SSI, and the creation of a new bureau named Homeland Security.
The most prominent heads of the SSI through history were:
1-Major General Saleem Zaky
2- Major Ahmed Rafat Elnahas
3- Major General AbdelAzeem FahmY
4-Major General Hassan Talaat
5-Major General Mamdouh Salem (Head of a branch)
6-Major General Sayed Fahmy
7-Major General Hassan AbuBasha
8-Major General Mohammed Elawa Zaher
9-Major General Ahmed Rushdi Mahmoud Eid
10-Major General Salah Salama
11- Major General Ahmed Eladly
12-Major General Hany Elazabi
13-Major General Habeeb Eladly
14- Major General Muhsen Moustafa Sulieman ELfaham
15- Major General Mohamed Sayed Abdelhamid Sharawy
16- Major General Hassan Abdurahman
17- Major General Hashem Abdelfattah Ghayda
18-Major General Hamed Abdullah
19- Major General Mohammed Abdelhamid Abdelghafar
20-Major Geneeral Khaled Abdelwahab Mohamed Tharwat
21-Major General Salaheldin Mohamed Fathy Hejazi
22- Major General Mahmoud Sayed Abdelhamid Sharawy ‘
In addition to some of the most infamous SSI agents:
- Major General Ahmed Rafat
- Major General Fouad Allam
- Major General Adel Labeeb (Cuurent Minister of Local Development), Also former head of the SSI branch in Alexandria in the 1990’s
The role of the directors of the SSI does not end when they finish their service in the SSI. Many of these directors get promoted to become ministers of internal affairs , other directors get promoted to have high positions in the ministry of internal affairs, and others get promoted to become governors.
According to some estimates, the SSI has 100,000 employess from high ranking officers to lower ranking personnel. –(BBC, March 5, 2011) , on this link. I will not speak much about their salaries, it is enough for you to browse this link to know the huge salaries SSI employees receive , from the director to the high ranking officers and ending with low ranking personnel. Major General Muhsen Alfaham a former SSI director and one of the most prominent leaders of the Hamah Elwatan Party paid back 37 million Egyptian pounds from the incentives he has received to the state treasury . Awhile Mohamed Abdelsamee Mohamed a police officer in the SSI paid back 19,950,686 Egyptian Pounds (from incentives he has received) to the state treasury. Karam Abuzahra an SSI delegate in then Almatar Branch paid back 14,395,939
I hope everyone that read all these numbers can understand why the SSI agents are relentless when it comes to oppressing anyone that is against the government. For anyone that wants to change the government will of course be changing their six figure salary.
It is noticeable that every president of Egypt only changes the name of the SSI but doesn’t change any of its duties. It is evident that some SSI directors have been targeted since the Egyptian age of monarchy, until Egypt became a republic. So in order to secure SSI directors, officials, and low ranking personnel, the names and photographs remain confidential and are not available to the public.
The SSI remained invincible from any threat until the Egyptian Revolution of January 25,2011 came along, until the revolutionists decided to overthrow the oppressive Egyptian regime chanting loudly in Tahrir Square “The people want to overthrow the regime“.
Drastic events then followed by after the ousting of the Mubarak:
March 4, 2011
Protestors raid the SSI branch in the area of Faraena in the governorate of Alexandria.
March 5, 2011
Protestors raid the SSI branches in the cities of Madinat Nasr and the Sixth of October and other branches. Protestors were unable to raid the infamous SSI branch of LaZoghli due to its location beside the ministry of internalaffairs.
March 16, 2011
After the renaming of the SSI to become “ The Bureau of Homeland Security,” Major General Magdy Mohammed Abdelhammid Abdelghaffar was appointed as vice director of Homeland Security. Magdy Abdelghaffar graduated from the police academy in 1974, and then appointed as an officer in the SSI.
March 22, 2011
Major General Magdy Abdelghaffar is promoted and becomes the minister assistant in the SSI department
Major General Magdy Abdelghaffar an official in the ministry of internal affairs in the Mubarak Regime becomes promoted after the Egyptian Revolution of January 25, 2011 to become director of the SSI.
In an interview with Alhayah Channel Abdelghaffar states
“We recognize that there have been some wrong practices under the former regime, we recognize that there were abuses under the former regime”.
But then he denied all charges against himself and stated that
“They are not personal mistakes, they are institutional mistakes”.
Link to the video of his admission of the institutional crimes of the SSI.
Here dear reader, Major General Magdy Abdelghaffar considered the torture and killing of youth and the opposition before January 25,2011 as an institutional mistake, but no officials have been punished instead they were promoted into higher ranks in the system.
And the ridicule continues, revolutionists and islamists started to neglect the case. Though they have reached parliament and presidency they did not issue any law to punish the criminals of the SSI. Soon later the liberal and secular revolutionists allied to get the military back in power on June 30, 2013.
With the return of the military into rule, the SSI makes a return and so do all the former SSI officials, personnel, and spies under the new curtain of “Homeland Security”.
Third: Now is time to shine light on the most prominent headquarters of the SSI, and where they are located.
SSI headquarters and their locations and what’s inside the walls are considered taboo. But due to the increasing amount of enforced disappearances and the wails of the abductees mothers it is our duty to describe the headquarters to the best of our ability.
ِA- SSI Branch of LaZoghli-Cairo
Overlooking Nubar Street , in downtown Cairo , the SSI branch of LaZoghli is of the few branches that revolutionists weren’t able to reach in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011due to the intense security surrounding the branch. After the removal of the SSI branch in the city of Midanet Nasr, the SSI branch of LaZoghli is the only official branch in Cairo.
The SSI branch of LaZoghli is located within the walls of the ministry of internalaffairs. Most of those who entered SSI LaZoghli and got tortured before the revolution and the events of July,3,2013 do not know exactly which building SSI LaZoghli is located.
But after hearing multiple testimonies and comparing it to the maps and going back to various sources I have concluded that the location of the SSI building is either the one circled in red or the building to its left. The following image shows the building (circled in red).
The building consists of flour flours (disregarding the ground floor), and a basement.
The first floor is specifically for interrogations and extracting information by torturing those the SSI suspects have ties with Jihadi groups or any armed organizations
The second floor is for foreigners, specifically Palestinians (According to what has reached us)
The third floor is for members of the Muslim Brotherhood , specifically those who have committed violent actions, and revolutionary movements.
The fourth floor contains mostly offices for police officers or investigations. It consists of approximately 20 offices or more. The building is square shaped. The hallways are all connected and overlook a skylight. All the offices overlook the outside of the headquarters.
The ground floor has a gate that overlooks the elevator. When you leave the building and go down the stairs , there will be a room to your right and this is the security room and a large designed concrete sidewalk
The building consists of two elevators. All bathrooms of the building overlook a skylight.
We were not able to determine whether the building hade more than one underground floor or not but we were able to know that there were detention cells for those who were secretly abducted or who enforcedly disappeared. The are three detention cells.The first cell takes a capacity of 25 people, the second and the third cells take a capacity of 15 people.
And other detention cells are being equipped……
B- SSI branch in Nasr City – Cairo
The SSI branch in Nasr City is the main headquarters of the SSI bureau. It consists of four interconnected buildings designed as an upturned pyramid. Inside the buildings is the office of the SSI director and his villa. Also this is where all the administration offices are located, these offices are responsible for coordinating with other nation-wide branches. This building is located in the sixth district in Nasr City, which overlooks Almokhayem Eldaem Street and Alkhalifa Alqaher Street. The buildings are located on an area of over four kilometers squared, it has three car entrances on Almokhatem Eldaem Street, and one on Alkhalifa Alqaher Street. In addition to the entrances for individuals only , they are small gates that only enter SSI personnel and spies. They enter from an iron gate and then stand infront of another circular gate to enter individually after allowing them to enter , as shown in the picture below.
As for the buildings and their segments, they are shown in the picture below, and followed by a detailed explanation:
The area to the right of the picture consists of four different interconnected buildings. They are buildings
1-A ; and is called “The Mamdouh Salem Building”
2-B ; and is the location of the Minister of Internal Affairs Office , it is two floors, and is equipped with a full rest area
In addition to a building for training SSI officers, and the Motaterf Building , there is a water reservoir, a hotel for officers, a hospital, a mosque, and a two story independent villa equipped with a tennis court, a swimming pool and two entrance and exit gates that overlook Ramses Street.
The buildings are secured well. They are resistant to explosives, reinforced with concrete wells, guarded with other cement gates, 6-meter-high electric fences, with multiple guard towers, and warning networks. After July 3,2013 extra concrete walls were added to increase security. In addition, the SSI cut off part of the outside main street to become an internal street between the large concrete beams and the SSI buildings. In addition to extra security gates to avoid any possible attacks.
The buildings inside the SSI have heights ranging from two stories (not including the ground floor) as in the ministers building (B). Or four floors as in The Mamdouh Salem Building (A), as shown in the following picture that was taken from the inside of the building:
This does not include the underground garage and the underground stories that consist of some administration offices and detention cells where those who were secretly abducted are located. The area of these detention cells are very small, its area is no larger than 2 meters in length and 1.25 meters in width, there are no openings or vents in the detention cells that will help with air circulations, only an air suction. This is an image of one of the cells:
Underground lies many detention cells and places made specifically to torture prisoners. But the most of dangerous of buildings are Motateref building ,the one I have labeled M, and the training building.
This is the only building that did not stop functioning even after he Military Intelligence Bureau took control of the SSI before the ousting of Mubarak. It also continued to function even after the protestor raid on SSI branches on March 5,2011. They then functioned underneath the control of the military intelligence and the safeguard of the army. Going through Building M you have access to the communications center which includes a network of National Security Archives. Underneath Building M there is a garage, which functions as an entrance to an area of multiple detention cells.
Building for SSI training:
This building is designed with protection against explosives and is intensely secured. It consists of training halls for SSI officers. According to a private source , the building also consists of a section that is responsible for setting exams for students in the police academy. Most importantly there are offices for SSI public administration directors and offices for foreign officers that come from western intelligence agencies.
Yes, what you have read is correct, there are offices for western intelligence agents in Egypt that coordinate with Egyptian SSI officers . Western agents supervise over the training program for SSI officers. There also has been multiple joint operations between the two agencies. These joint operations are known for violating multiple human rights laws.
Brigade General Aser Negmeldeen (as shown in the image below) is responsible for coordination with western intelligence agencies during the reign of Major General Habeeb Eladly in the Mubarak Regime.
Left, is the building beside the main building , and it is a two story villa , with an entrance from Ramses Street and an exit separate from the SSI. The villa is equipped with many amenities including a tennis court and a swimming pool as shown in the picture below:
C- SSSI headquarters in the city of The Sixth of October. – Giza
It is the only branch in the governorate of Giza , and is only responsible of the Giza governorate. Located on the axis of July 26 Street in the city of The Sixth of October , after the Cairo-Alexandria desert road exit, and before a police officer mosque made for special occasions. The building is surrounded with barren land and is located near two central security camps.
The building has an ancient Egyptian design, consisting of an ancient Egyptian designed gate, three main buildings linked to the middle where a central building is found.
The headquarters main gate is located on the road axis of July 26 Street, which is protected slabs of block and concrete. Only SSI personnel that work in this branch, those secretly abducted from the political opposition, where they are secretly hidden in underground detention cells, which are located behind one of the main buildings , as shown in the image below:
Abductees enter the garage where they are blindfolded and taken underground to be placed in detention cells , through the entrance shown in the image below:
The offices inside the building are easy to remove and reinstall because many of the interior wall are made of gypsum board, and all the walls are soundproof which is very useful if you are torturing your victims and don’t want anyone to hear their screams in order for every official can interrogate sufficiently without being annoyed with the screams of other victims.
It is known that once an abductee enters the SSI , they will be given numbers and will be called by their numbers, not by their names. To the point where officers do not know their names, and only recognize them with their numbers or the number of the cell they are in, as shown in the image below:
Abductees are not transferred to collective cells (cells with many prisoners,) until they finish interrogations which can take up to months, After the abductee is finished with vigorous interrogations they are blindfolded, given to a policeman , and then taken to a collective cell. Located on the side of the hallway in the image below:
D- SSI headquarters in the city of Abis – Alexandria Governorate
SSI officials recently started using this building for torturing abductees, this building was activated after June 3,2013, and is located on the Alexandria-Tanta agricultural road in Abis. It is located before the Somoha enterance, beside the new court of appeal, and in front of the recreational forest. The building consists of many stories and is used to pressure abductees and the political opposition into admitting or testifying to any information’s before they are transferred to the Alexandria Security Directorate, fourth floor.
Fourth: Methods of torture inside SSI headquarters.
What you will read now about methods of torture in the SSI is happening in Egypt. American officials have confessed to knowing about these methods of torture , and often times cooperate with Egyptian officials in the torture. Here is the link to the Human Rights Watch report about the cooperation of American Intelligance Agencies and the SSI in torturing abductees. The following list of methods is what we were able to gather with the testimony of former abductees.
- Abductees are hanged head down and feet up (both feet are tied with a rope)
- Abductees are hanged head down and one foot up (only one foot is tied with a rope)
- Tying both of the abductees hands with a rope, and then hanging the abductee from their hands
- Electrocuting the abductee in all parts of the body
- Stripping the detainee till he becomes naked, and is then placed on a metal bed. SSI officials deliver electricity to the bed intermittently
- Connecting the abductees bodie with electric wires, and then connecting the wires to an electric apparatus to electrocute the whole body
- Electrocuting the genitals.
- Squeezing the abductees testicles with both hands, and then hanging the testicles from a rope that is attached to the ceiling
- Electrocuting the scalp
- After torturing the abductee, SSI officials strip the abductee naked, tie his clothe to his hands, and then take him back in a cell with other abductees while the abductee is still naked.
- Inserting a wooden stick through the abductees rectum and then video taping it
- Hanging the abductees on a metal cross, awhile settling their feet in a tub of water. Later on they electrocute the water, so the electricity can travel throughout the body.
- Binding the hands and feet around a pole above the forearms and the knees, with the pole supported between two chairs while the feet are beaten with a wooden stick , the abductees body goes numb, after the abductee starts screaming, an SSI agent starts electrocuting the abductee.
- Electrocuting the head of the penis
- Yanking off the abductees toe nails
- Stripping the abductee naked and then forcing the abductee to lie on the floor. Awhile an officer places a chair between his shoulders, and another officer places a chair between his legs. The officers then start interrogating with him and torturing him with electricity. Due to the way the abductee is placed , when he is electrocuted, his body will start jumping upwards due to the intensity of the electricity
- Depriving the abductee from sleep by handcuffing one of the abductees hand to a pole and the other hand is handcuffed to another abductees hand , and the other abductees hand is tied to another pole. Officers tie both of the abductees legs, making it impossible for the abductees to sleep due to the fact that their backs are not supported by any wall.
Recently there has been spotted cases where officers cut porions of the abductees skin using sharp tools to pressure them to confess names of other people who oppose the government. Other cases were spotted where SSI officers have gouged out the eyes of their victims.
In the many cases where abductees refused to confess they were killed. Later on the SSI claims that they were killed in an armed clash with security forces, even if they are under 18 years old. On October 25,2015 the Egyptian ministry of internalaffairs announced the killing of three youth under the age of 18 in a mountainous area called the Alqasaseen District , in the Islamalia Governorate and posted pictures of the three young boys wounded with multiple bullets. One of the boys in the image has a bullet that did not go through the other side, as it is evident in the image below:
Fifth: Methods of Capturing their Victims and Why?
Victims of enforced disappearance are divided into two types. The first of the two are the opposition, and the second type are victims with ni political interests, their arrests are usually mistakes and they are released a while after their capture. But their have been cases where the second type of victims are used to test the SSIs methods of torture and teach them to new SSI officers.
The most famous methods of capturing victims are
- Following the voice print of the victim, even if the victim changes their cellphone or telephone number they can still be monitored
- Following people who use VPN programs and monitoring what they use these programs for and what they write.
- Monitoring social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook and monitoring anti-government posts, comments and their writers.
- Following social network accounts of famous activists and opposition and hacking into their personal emails in order to know who they contact.
- Capturing activists and using their phones and social networking accounts to send messages to their friends and asking them to met the captured activist in a location, and then capturing them too.
- Forcing the abductee to connect with other activists in order to capture them too
- Spreading spies in an area where their may be a group of opposition and then capturing them
- Pro-government citizens that report opposition members
- Injecting undercover agents or recruiting former detainees after pressuring them to become undercover agents in order to spy against the opposition and capture them
- Due to the fact that the homes of activists and opposition groups get raided on a daily/weekly basis by the SSI, activists often move out of their governorate, so the SSI routinely monitors new rent contracts in the area they control.
- At security checkpoints police officers check mobile devices and laptops and specifically check galleries to see if they have any photos of protests or any photos that sign to government opposition.
The SSI has also equipped their cars with radars and technology that will help trace activists and opposition groups.
Sixth: Enforced Disappearance: True Stories of a Walk inside the Capital of Hell
They proudly call themselves “Infidels,” because they are not committed to any religion or morals and because they do not fear anything. Once you are captured, they blindfold you, aggressively push you in a solitary detention cell, and they tell you that you have officially “disappeared” from society until they decide otherwise.
Many think that this happens behind the eyes of Western governments and its intelligence agencies, but reality proves otherwise. According to a Human Rights Watch report in 2005 titled “Black Hole,” link, former CIA officer Robert Baer stated:
“If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear-never to see them again-you send them to Egypt.”
Former CIA official Robert Baer, in Stephen Grey, “America’s gulag,” The New Statesman, 17 May 2004.
Former CIA officer has wonderfully concluded the tragedy of enforced disappearance when he said:
“If you want someone to disappear-never to see them again-you send them to Egypt”.
The Egyptian revolution of 2011 came to wreck the cooperation between the SSI and western intelligence agencies, calling for justice, freedom and dignity. Telling the western world that Egypt will not be exploited and used a Middle Eastern torture chamber and use torture methods they cannot use in their own countries where there is a law that will punish those who commit such heinous crimes.
Relations came back better then before on January 18,2016 CIA director John Brennan visited the Egyptian minister of internal affairs. Where the ministry stated on their official Facebook page:
“The minister was pleased with the great amount of cooperation between the ministry of interior’s intelligence agencies and the CIA in the field of communications and and and the great expertise on combating extremists and resisting extreme destructive ideologies that deceive young people in order to achieve personal goals, which threaten the stability of countries in the region.”
Terrorism continued to become the hanger in which human rights are trespassed with in the Middle East. According to leaked information from trusted sources , there are CIA officers training SSI officers and have helped develop the methods of torture in the SSI, the meeting are usually located in the training building in the SSI headquarters in Nasr City, as shown in the image below:
At this point we started recording tens OD interviews from those who were former detainees, we recorded their testimonies inside the SSI. I will first start with my story, because I was once secretly abducted for a period of five days inside the SSI.
Haitham Ghoneim-October 2010
With special central security forces surrounding my home, the SSI raided my house to take me to an unknown location. Awhile my father is standing in shock, my sister drowning in tears, my mother bid me farewell with strength, but with sadness with her eyes for she knew what I will be facing.
I was taken to detention cell and started losing count of time, not knowing if the sun has risen or if this night will ever end. The cell door then opens and then I was taken to an unkown place.
It was an abandoned villa in Nasr City that overlooked Aly Ameen Street, before my abduction I used to pass by this villa multiple times no knowing that behind its fates lied horror, I thought it was abandoned but turned out to be otherwise, a picture of the villa is shown below:
Once I entered the villa I was forced to take of my force, and I was later blindfolded with it, and was taken to another unknown place, only to stand infront an officer I recognized from his voice, it was the same man that abducted me from my home. He greeted me saying
“You are now in the SSI , there is nothing official that can prove that you have been detained, which means that you are not detained because there is nothing to prove so ,your family would not be able to prove anything. If we want to keep you hidden, we can hide you here for life without anyone knowing where you are. We can kill you and bury and you will still remain anonymous. SO if you help us we will please you and take you out of here , or we can jail you and your parents will know where you are, and if you refuse to cooperate…you know what will happen.”
Here I knew that I disappeared from society…. Or in better description forcedly disappeared.
After his brief greeting, I was taken to a torture chamber where I was stripped naked of my clothe (except for my underwear) and multiple methods of torture were used upon me. I remember times going back to my cell half carried by the guards. Many prisoners pitied my situation and covered me with many blankets because I was naked for seven straight hours in a freezing cold room (SSI officers but the air condition on the lowest it can get).
I remember the fifth day after they lost hope in proving anything against me, they decided to release me.
Before they released me the officer that supervised my torture apologized saying:
We did this for Egypt.
I looked at him sarcastically not caring about his reaction. Later came the head officer came to tell me that I will be released today but if I speak again about the inheritance of power, elections, or if you ever join a protest … you know what we will do with you.
At the time I was thinking of another detainee who was with me in the same cell. He owned a dry cleaner shop, his only crime was that awhile the SSI was raiding a house that neighbors his shop , after failing to find the man they were looking for , they passed by his store and saw that it was named “Al-Aqsa” ( a holy mosque in Palestine), and that was his crime (His shops name)
I asked the officer about him he replied saying “Oh do we still have him?, it’s good you reminded me, I will release him with you today.”
Yes, dear reader they simply forgot a human, a human who has a family crazily looking after him……just simply forget him.
Mohamed Wajeeh Eid Taman – March 2014
Mr. Mohammed Wajeeh Taman did not know that it was his last day between his family and loved ones when he went to his company, that is owned by him and his brother, in the Dokki district , in Giza Governorate,
The time was between 8 and 9 p.m., the SSI raided his company, physically assaulting his company guards in search for his brother Abdullah Wajeeh Amen , the former secretary of the Giza governote and a prominent member of the Strong Egypt Party. They did not find his brother, so they took Taman and three clients. And if that is not enough they started breaking the contents of the company, and looting whatever they set their eyes on from money, laptops, and the private belongings of the clients. They went away with Taman and the three clients.
And from there Mohamed Wajeeh Taman has disappeared…..
March 3…..March 4…. March 5…. March 6…. March 7… March 8…. March 9…. March 10….. March 11… March 12.
Above were the following days his mother and loved ones have been searching for him without any sign of his whereabouts. They sent a telegraph to the attorney general but with no luck. Tamans story started spreading quickly on social networking websites. Until a prominent party official called the attorney general Hesham Barakat.
On March 12, 2014 Tamans family gets a call telling them that Taman is detained and that he has been transferred Central Security Camp on the 10 ½ Kilometer Exit on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road.
His family goes to visit Taman , but they are refused entry.
On March 13, 2014 his family is notified that Taman has has been presented the Supreme SSI Court, which starts interrogations at late times of night. His brother Abdullah goes with a lawyer in order for the lawyer to attend the hearing , but security forced refused claiming that no one with that name is inside.
But the truth is that Mohamed Wajeeh was being presented at that time infront of the Supreme SSI court , but in a country that isn’t run by law, its impressible to have a lawyer in the first hearing.
On Friday, March 12, 2014 Abdullah Wajeeh was allowed to see his brother in the Central Security Camp.
But where is Mohammed?
Abdullah was looking warily for his brother Mohammed because the person infront of him was certainly not his brother , infront of him was a person that could barely walk, and wasn’t able to move his hands, not even to shake hands.
Abdullah Taman describes his brother saying:
“My brother wasn’t even able to raise his hand in order to shake mine, both his hands were severly swollen with many blood clots and traces of severe and harsh wounds. His left hand had many bulges, I was not sure if his hand was broken or if he had a laceration in the arm. He had a broken rib bone, and was unable to sit down. He could not feel his fingers or feet from how numb they were. His face was heavily bruised, and he had large wounds in the back of his head. It was evident that he was severely tortured.”
Minutes passed as years when Abdullah was hearing his brother speak about how he was taken away to the prosecution department of Bolaq Aldaqroor in a room that belonged to the SSI, where he was continuously tortured for nine straight days , he was tied for five straight days without mercy and he was hit with sharp tools, and batons. He was also severely electrocuted.
Later , his brother Abdullah send a report to the Supreme SSI court to requesting Mohammed to be presented to a forensic doctor and to treat him, his request was refused.
On Saturday, March 22,2014 the court decides to detain Mohamed for another 15 days, and refuses the third request for Mohammed to be presented to a forensic doctor in spite of his deteriorating health situation.
Mohamed Wajeeh Taman was then transferred to Tora Prison but the prison administration refused to take him in due to his bad health situation.
The Freedom for the Brave Legal Campaign has written about Mohamed Wajeeh and what he has been exposed to in this link.
Karimah Elserefy- April 2014
On Saturday, March 29,2014, Around 8:15 p.m a security force consisting of two Toyota Luxe police cars, two trucks full of the ministry of internal affairs special forces and an SSI officer, followed by a New Cairo Second Department police car packed with a group of investigative officers in civilian clothe surrounded dormitory number 93, first assembly , Hadana station.
At 8:21, 20 year old Karimah Ameen Abdelhamid Ameen Elserefy a sophomore studying theology and law at Alazhar University was speaking with her friend on the phone only to hear the voice of her apartment door breaking and a swarm of officers raiding her room. Her friend on the other side heard her pleading and screaming:
“ Please anyone get me my headscarf and abaya before you get in”
Followed by unintelligible words, and then the line cut off.
For over three hours the men in the neighborhood tried to intervene. The police hit anyone that intervened and detained two neighborhood men.
Around 12 am midnight , Karimah’s brother arrives at the dormitory to find the police officers releasing the two men they detained from the neighborhood.
Karimah’s brother runs to ask about what happened, the people around tell him that security forces have detained his sister for three hours in her dorm, and then grabbed her with them to an unknown location holding many bags.
Her brothers enters her dorm to find it , as he describes “destroyed’ with lots of debris filling the apartment.
Her brother then finds her favorite jacket torn and thrown on the floor.
Her brother runs to the Second Cairo Police Department with lawyers to ask about his sister , only to hear that Karimah isn’t there.
Rumors were floating about Karimah’s whereabouts , some say that she was detained in an SSI branch , others say that she was in the Second Cairo Police Department, and others say that she was transferred to Alqanater Prison.
On the same day Karimah’s father , who is also detained , Mr. Ameen Elserefy , who worked as personal secretary for former President Mohammed Morsi ,a president who was toppled by the military, had a hearing in the Supreme SSI court.
Many questions were raised asking if Karimah was abducted to blackmail her father or to pressure him.
On March 31,2016 the minister of internal affairs Mohamed Ibrahim announced that Karimah Elserefy is a criminal and is accused of a new crime.
On the same day it was announced that Karimah will be released from the SSI if everybody stops speaking about her.
On Tuesday, April 1, 2014 it is announced that the SSI will not release Karimah because one of her friends has posted about Karimah on social network.
Spreading anything about Karimah was a crime in the eyes of the SSI that must be punished. Karimah was detained in Alqanater Jail for months and was later released.
This isn’t the only story , even children were no spared from enforced disappearance.
M.H is a student under 18 years of age. He was abducted from his home in the Cairo Governorate and was taken to the SSI headquarters in LaZoghli.
Upon his arrival he was told that he didn’t own his body, that his body is now owned by the SSI and that the SSI can do anything to his body , except for eyes.
M.H states that when I was at the third floor I met a man named Ali HasbAllah and another man named Badr or Badry who was over 50 years old and was blindfolded for more than 120 days and wasn’t even interrogated. The man told M.H that he was detained because he owned a supermarket and hired a worker that was wanted by the SSI, and when the SSI raided his supermarket they detained him and his worker.
M.H states that on the third floor, there were children like him between the ages of 11-14. He states that whenever they needed to use the restroom the officers would say “Go get a potty for these boys that didn’t even hit puberty.” `
“There were big detention cells downstairs, and this is where they put the people that they finished interrogating with. The cells had cameras that recorded voice and video, all prisoners were blindfolded and not allowed to speak or pray. For breakfast we had cheese, beans and bread. For lunch we had rice, a side of bean soup and a small piece of chicken or beef. For dinner we had jam, lentils, and bread. Every week we also had a piece of halva.”
He then told me about the prisoners with him saying,
“There were over 20 people that the court announced innocent , and when I was there, there were more than 100 men and children, and there was an old man too. There were two soldiers one was named Mohamed Elnajjar and the other was named Shawkat. Both are from the Zaytoon area in Cairo. They were brought here because they were talking on the phone at the time of their recruitment , and one told the other ‘Elseesy (current president of Egypt) is going to pay a visit to your camp tomorrow, why don’t you bring victory to the revolution and rest this country from him.’ They had been at this SSI branch for 3 months , and before they were at a military intelligence branch. One of them was detained in a cell so small that he couldn’t even spread his legs, or stand straight. He used the bathroom in a bucket, they would send me food through a small hole in the door. The soldier told me that the cell was very dark and that he didn’t see or talk to anyone. He says that he was severely tortured to the point where he considered this SSI branch a hotel. When I was presented to the SSI court, there were two people beside me that told me that there were people in the first floor who have been blindfolded for over a year and had been severely tortured, he told me that the treatment at the first floor in LaZoghli was hell. He told me that while he was in the first floor, an officer passed by the hallway, and heard two people who were schackled together speaking, the officer then electrocuted the metal handcuffs that tied them together, He told me that the SSI officers stripped a man naked, and before he was going to electrocute him he told him ‘With me, theres nothing called a sensitive area, the only sensitive thing in you is your eyes.’ One time while I was sitting in my cell, they took two of the people sitting with us and took them to the third floor, there screams were so loud , and when they came back they refused to tell us any details, but we knew that they were severly tortured”
He then continues to talk about his experience
“I sat in the SSI for six days, and after the six days they called my name because I had an SSI court hearing, the police officer took me to an SSI officer and told him to allow me to shower so I could look clean in front of the court tomorrow.”
All these testimonies urged me to look for people that were detained before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, especially those who were detained in the eighties and nineties. With the help of Elnadwa Institue for Rights and Freedoms, I was able to reach some of them and hear their stories:
M.S told me about a detainee in Alexandria named “Alaa” he was abducted from the State Security Investigations Bureau and was pressured to confess about things, but he refused to confess about them or to confess anything against his friends. He was severely tortured to the point where he lost his mind, he got dementia and started talking to air. The SSI refused to release him until he finished his sentenced. Even after he was released he was put in a mental hospital in the city of Mandara, in the governorate of Alexandria.
*When I heard this story , I remembered when I was 18 years old when my friends and I organized a charity visit to a mental hospital in the city of Alabissya in the governorate of Cairo. I saw patients that were very respectful and it looked as if they had Islamic ideologies from their respectful demeanor . When I asked the workers what happened to them , they said that these men were abducted by the ministry of internal affairs and when they went insane , the ministry sent them here.
M.I is another torture victim. He was abducted in 1997 and was taken to the SSI branch in LaZoghli . He was severely beaten, stripped of his clothe (except for his underwear), the SSI officer made him sleep on his back as he placed a chair between his arms, and a chair between his legs, awhile two officers held him tight. When he refused to confess they took of his underwear and electrocuted his penis and nipples. He told me he was luckier than many other abductees who were severly electrocuted until their penis’s became as large as an orange.
He told me that awhile he was being tortured,he was blindfolded and heard two officers torturing a man named Adel Ali Bayomee (45 years old), they were laughing and saying that the fats in his stomach melted from how much they electrocuted him. Adel Ali Bayomee was later executed.
He also told me that there were detainees that told him that a man named Mohammed Eldeeb who was accused in a military case , number 60. He was taken to the SSI branch of LaZoghli , when he refused to go inside the torture chamber , he was immediately executed with a bullet. The SSI later said that he was killed in an armed clash when they were capturing him.
He also told me that one of the detainees that belonged to Islamic parties named “Tareq.” Tareq was executed, but his forensic report , which was issued after his release from state security and presented to the prosecutor government report says that there his penis head has been roasted as a result of torture with electricity.
All these violations happened in the reign of the current director of the SSI , major general Mahmoud Sayed Abdelhamid Sharawy, a former head of the SSI Cairo Headquarters, code name Mohamed Lasheen.
Here I conclude. I have kept some information aside due to the fact that they may not be of great importance for now, or because it can harm national security, and lastly because they can be used to identify my sources which will definitely put their lives on the line.
I have written this report in January 2016, after the increase of enforced disappearances , and after the tens of messages and calls from the families of those who were secretly abducted. I decided to finish this report after the last call I received from a family I have been looking through their case. THey called me saying that their son was thrown in front of their house after weeks of his disappearance. Their son lost his mind and was acting like an infant. The cries of this detainees family was the fuel to my pen that wrote what you have just read.
Now I have finished part of my duty towards those who were forcedly disappeared and to their families. Now it is your duty to spread awareness and to expose the system so we can stop the exploitation of the innocent, and for the criminals to get the punishment they deserve.
Finished on Friday, February 26,2016