Egypt's new 'anti-terror law' comes into force

Egypt's new 'anti-terror law' comes into force
A new law listing terrorist groups and individuals aims to stop Muslim Brotherhood supporters running for parliament, say analysts.
5 min read
26 February, 2015
The new anti-terror law is reportedly designed to stop Brotherhood supporters running for parliament [Getty]
A new law has been issued in Egypt, which government sources say is designed to stop Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters from standing for election.

The decision to begin implementing Egypt's new anti-terrorism law [Ar] was made by the president of Cairo's appeals court on Thursday. The law defines which individuals and groups can be added to the new "terror lists".

Prosecutors will be able to request individuals or groups be added to the "terrorist list" at four constituency offices.

A judicial source at the Court of Cassation said the law decreed by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi two days ago overcomes shortcomings revealed in the Administrative Court's rulings to freeze the assets of Muslim Brotherhood members. Rulings over adding names to the banned list will now be treated as judicial, not administrative, he said.

The source also said that, with the new law, the justice ministry's committee will no longer need to manage the Brotherhood money. Instead, the Muslim Brotherhood, one of Egypt's largest opposition movements, will be legally classified as a terrorist group.

A formal request to add the Brotherhood to the terrorist list will be submitted to Cairo's appeals court, added the Court of Cassation source.

"With a court ruling classifying the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, the assets of the group and its members will be legally frozen. This will correct the invalid rulings issued by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters, which is not competent to decide on criminal or administrative cases," the source said.

"These mistakes have made the Administrative Court's rulings to freeze the assets of Muslim Brotherhood leaders invalid."

     With a court ruling... the assets of the group and its members will be legally frozen.

The government gave the law its approval last December, after considering remarks made by the interior ministry and general intelligence service.

The new law is the country's first "terror watch list" supervised by the judiciary.


The ten-article law has two lists - one covering terrorist entities, and the other their members. According to the law, no organisations or individuals can be added to the list without a court ruling in a case brought by the prosecutor general.

The law also stipulates that the criminal division of Cairo's appeals court is responsible for adding names to the lists after a request has been made by the prosecutor general.

According to the law, the prosecution is to submit a request along with its investigation findings to the court, which then has seven days to make a decision. The prosecution has the right to appeal the court's decision before the Court of Cassation.

The foreign ministry also requested that the law allows overseas terrorist entities to be added to the list, after a request has been made by the prosecutor general. The individual or group in question has 60 days to appeal the decision.

The new law also gives the prosecutor general the right to remove names from the lists if new evidence arises - provided that the court issues the final decision.

A terrorist is defined by the law as: "Anyone who commits or attempts to commit, incite, threaten or plot a terrorist crime inside or outside the country, individually or as part of a full criminal enterprise."

A broad definition

The new law defines a "terrorist entity", meanwhile, rather more loosely:

"Any association, organisation, group, gang, cell or other congregation, regardless of their legal or actual status, that has taken part or whose aim is to encourage through any means either inside or outside the country to harm or terrorise individuals or put their lives or freedoms or rights and security at risk, or to harm the environment, natural resources, artefacts, communications, land, air or sea transportation, or harm or attempt to seize wealth, buildings and public or private property."

It also defines the actions of "terrorist entities" as those that "prevent or hinder public authorities, the judicial system, government and local government authorities, places of worship, hospitals, educational institutions or other public utilities, or diplomatic missions and consulates and regional and international organisations in Egypt from carrying out their duties or carrying out all or a part of their activities, or resisting them or obstructing public or private transportation or preventing or hindering their operation or threatening their safety in any way".

     This definition applies to Egyptian and foreign groups and individuals, whether they commit or intend to commit 'terrorist acts'.

The definition also includes actions that in anyway promote public disorder, threaten the safety of society, its interest and security, obstruct the constitution and laws, prevent government institutions and public authorities from carrying out their duties, assault a citizen's personal freedoms or other public freedoms and rights guaranteed by the constitution, or harm national unity, social security and national security.

This definition applies to both Egyptian and foreign groups and individuals, whether they commit or intend to commit "terrorist acts", even if those acts are not targeting Egypt.

The names of individuals and entities added to the list will remain there for three years, during which time the activities and meetings of the "terrorist entity" will be banned and its headquarters and physical locations will be closed.

Donations and fundraising for the "terrorist entity" will also be prohibited and its assets and those of its members will be frozen if they have been used to carry out terrorist activities. Individuals will also be banned from joining or promoting the entity in anyway.

Those who have been added to the list will be banned from travelling and have their passports confiscated or cancelled. They will also be prevented from holding public or parliamentary positions. Foreign citizens added to the list will be banned from entering the country.

The proposed law also includes a mechanism for managing the frozen assets of "terrorists" and "terrorist entities", which includes authorising a specialist court to specify who can manage those assets after a consultation has been carried out with the public prosecution. The law also regulates how those assets are to be managed.

In addition, the law outlines a framework of cooperation between Egyptian judicial and anti-terror authorities with their international counterparts, according to international conventions and agreements.

This article is an amalgamation of edited translations from our Arabic edition.