President Sisi appoints brother to head new 'counter-terrorism' unit

President Sisi appoints brother to head new 'counter-terrorism' unit
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has given his brother extensive powers by making him head of a new counter-terrorism unit.
2 min read
16 October, 2016
Sisi has been accused of numerous human rights abuses in Egypt [Getty]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has appointed his brother to head a new "anti-terrorism unit", with criticis accusing the leader of nepotism and setting up a new draconian body to clamp down on critics.

Ahmed Said Hussein Khalil al-Sisi will preside over a board of trustees as chairman, and the new body will be given sweeping new powers to investigate suspected "terrorists" and their affiliates.

The unit will exercise extensive control over the bank accounts of individuals and companies suspected of money laundering or supporting terrorism.

It will as review the accounts of those suspected of receiving funds from foreign bodies, and will have the power to seize funds and freeze bank accounts.  

However, there are fears the body will be used to clampdown on political opponents, such as members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and liberal opponents of the government, particularly those with links to foreign NGOs or human rights groups.

The decision was issued by Sherif Ismail, the chair of the Egyptian Council of Ministers. Other members of the board will include Sami Sharif, deputy governor of the central bank, and Hisham Okasha, a representative of the Federation of Egyptian Banks.  

Since taking office in June 2014, Sisi has been widely criticised by human rights groups for restricting free speech, arresting thousands of political opponents who have been subject to torture and extrajudicial killings by police and prison guards. 

Human Rights Watch have accused the Egyptian president of providing "near total impunity for security forces abuses".

He presides over a government curtailing civil and political rights and erasing the human rights' achievements of the 2011 revolution, the NGO has said.

Sisi had used the pretext of "stabalising" Egypt and fighting terrorism to turn back the clock on freedom, they say, with political opponents often lumped into the same category as militants like the Islamic State group.