The Ministry of Interior announced Thursday that ten suspects had been arrested on terrorism-related charges after social media outlets had been used to identify them.
On Thursday, in a statement, the ministry said that alleged members of the recently banned Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested “usingtheir pages on social networking sites for ‘incitement against the police officers and the dissemination of their personal data’”.
The statement alluded to the ministry’s ability to track users who “broadcast incitement to violence, the targeting of civilians, and the manufacture of explosives” by means of a user’s electronic fingerprint.
The arrested include teachers, lawyers, students, and a supermarket owner. Their ages range from 17 to 63.
Some are charged with posting pictures and names of police officers online, while others are charged with posting “inflammatory comments” about burning police cars. One allegedly called for terrorist acts against the government and the destruction of the state system.
The ministry’s Sspokesman Hany Abdel Latif refused to comment on the breadth of online crimes the ministry was currently investigating, Another Fcaebook post on the minstry’s official page noted that by monitoring established Facebook pages, the interior ministry is continuing to secure the nation and its citizens. It went onto assert that “all troops are ready for the full implementation of all the tasks assigned to them, determined to confront firmly and decisively immediate plans for breaches of security or [plans that] seek to spread chaos and instability”, adding that the ministry “will not allow it”.
The same post lists incitement against police, information for the manufacture of explosives, infringement on the rights of citizens, organising marches as crimes that can be investigated and possibly taken to court.
In another recent internet-based move, the ministry posted a video to YouTube featuring a slideshow of men it calls “terrorists”, asking citizens’ help to bring them to justice. Their faces and complete names are displayed.
The video, entitled “The Interior Ministry calls on the Egyptian people in the reporting of wanted terrorists”, posted 31 January, features the faces of 26 men followed by phone numbers for Egypt’s Homeland Security Service.
Although the video asks citizens for information that would lead to judicial action against the suspects, Abdel Latif would not comment on what was being done to ensure that the alleged terrorists will not be subjected to vigilante justice.
In recent weeks, the interior ministry has been stepping up its campaign against alleged terrorists with links to the Brotherhood. According to the its official Facebook page, a pharmacist was caught with “a large amount of fast ignition fuses” and “a large amount of sodium nitrate”, supposedly for use in making bombs.
The pharmacist, caught in the Cairo area, was also found with chemicals that are used in the synthesis of high explosives.