August 17, 2013

Security forces storm protester-held Egypt mosque

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

The fundamentalist group has been banned for most of its 85-year history and repeatedly subjected to crackdowns under Mubarak's rule. While sometimes tolerated and its leaders part of the political process, members regularly faced long bouts of imprisonment and arbitrary detentions.

Disbanding the group, experts say, would mean allowing security forces to have a zero-tolerance policy in dealing with the group's street protests, as well as going after its funding sources. That could cripple the Brotherhood, though it likely wouldn't mean an end to a group that existed underground for decades

The possible banning comes amid calls by pro-military political forces to brand the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization."

"We are calling for declaring the Brotherhood as a terrorist group," said Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, one of the leaders of the Tamarod youth movement that had organized mass rallies calling Morsi's ouster.

The military-backed government has declared a state of emergency and imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew since Wednesday, empowering army troops to act as a law enforcement force. Top Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi, remain held on a variety of charges, including inciting violence.

Since Morsi was deposed in the popularly backed military coup, the Brotherhood stepped up its confrontation with the new leadership, rallying thousands and vowing not to leave until Morsi is reinstated.

After security forces broke up the protest camps, Islamist supporters stormed and torched churches and police stations. In response, authorities authorized Egypt's security authorities to use deadly force against those attacking vital government institutions.

On Saturday, Egypt's Interior Ministry said in a statement that a total of 1,004 Brotherhood members were detained in raids across the country and that weapons, bombs and ammunition were confiscated from the detainees.

Also Saturday, authorities arrested the brother of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri, a security official said. Mohammed al-Zawahri, leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group, was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists about the arrest.

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