Top News: ISIS Claims Killing of Croatian Hostage at the Hands of Sinai State

The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) said in an audio broadcast on Thursday that its Egyptian affiliate—the Sinai State, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis—had killed a Croatian hostage, a day after a photograph of a beheaded corpse purported to be that of the Croat was circulated by the group’s supporters. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said security forces still had no confirmation about the beheading. During a phone call on Thursday with his Croatian counterpart Vesna Pusic, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt is doing its best to arrest the captors. Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic also said that authorities in Croatia could not confirm Salopek’s killing with certainty. Milanovic said his government would not give up as long as there was hope. Despite the uncertainty of the death, many foreign leaders condemned the attack. “If these reports are true, I condemn in the strongest terms the apparent brutal killing of Croatian national Tomislav Salopek by ISIL in Egypt. My thoughts and condolences are with his family, colleagues and all the Croatian people. Britain will stand by Egypt and Croatia as we continue to oppose this inhuman brand of terrorism,” said Philip Hammond, British Foreign secretary. The German Foreign Ministry echoed these sentiments, saying that the attack “once again shows that the fanatical ideology of ISIS threatens us all.” [ReutersAhram OnlineDNEAswat MasriyaSISAPAFP, 8/13/2015]

Cairo municipality heads granted arrest powers to curb ‘street violations’
Cairo Governor Galal Saeed announced on Tuesday that district leaders have been granted the power of arrest to facilitate the management of the capital’s streets. This would allow the district leaders rights typically reserved for law enforcement personnel, including arresting and detaining individuals caught in the act and filing a report directly with the public prosecutor without having to go through police officers. It also allows them to search suspects, issue subpoenas, summon witnesses and barricade crime scenes. District leaders are appointed by governors to manage the affairs of their designated areas. The new powers, as announced by the governor, would facilitate an ongoing “order and cleanliness campaign” in Cairo. The governor said that the decision supports more efficient garbage collection systems and a clamping down on unofficial street dwellers. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 8/13/2015]

Justice Minister says Presidency to approve anti-terror law shortly
A counterterrorism draft law approved by the cabinet last month will receive final approval from Egypt’s Office of the Presidency within hours, Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend told reporters at the cabinet’s building on Wednesday. The draft will not return to the cabinet, the Minister said, suggesting that the document will not see any objection from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “We hope it will be issued before the Raba’a dispersal anniversary,” said the Minister, referring to the government’s bloody dispersal of a major sit-in by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi in August 2013. [Egypt Independent, SIS, 8/13/2015]

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  • Fourteen currency exchange seized over Brotherhood affiliation | Cairo Post

Pro-Morsi political leader Abul-Ela Madi released from jail
Pro-Morsi Wasat Party head Abul-Ela Madi was released Wednesday after spending two years in jail pending investigations into violence-related charges. A Giza criminal court ordered Madi’s release on Monday after accepting an appeal, which overturned a previous decision to extend his detention pending investigation. Madi was not standing trial and therefore released, as he had already served the maximum time for provisional detention. He had been arrested in July 2013 shortly after Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. He is accused of inciting violence ahead of deadly clashes in the Bein al-Sarayat neighborhood of Giza between opponents and supporters of ex-president Mohamed Morsi that resulted in twenty-three fatalities. [Ahram Online, 8/13/2015]

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  • Egypt’s prosecutors take aim at pop stars | Al-Monitor

Moody’s says Suez Canal extension will take time to affect positive credit
Ratings agency Moody’s said Thursday that Egypt Suez Canal expansion will support the country’s credit quality through increased current account receipts and government revenue. However, Moody’s said the degree of support to Egypt’s economy will depend on the acceleration in global trade growth, “which seems unlikely to materialize quickly.” The agency said it expects the canal expansion to have limited positive effects on Egypt’s credit during the current fiscal year. In a July report, Moody’s projected a FY2016 budget of 9.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to the government’s estimate of 9.6 percent. [DNE, Cairo Post, 8/13/2015]

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  • Investor: Media behind decline in Nuweiba, Taba hotel occupancy | Egypt Independent
  • Moody’s finds it unlikely for Egypt to meet expected revenue from Suez Canal expansion | Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr 
  • Trade Minister: Egypt to use all potentials to enter African markets | SIS
  • Irrigation Minister: EGP 12 bn allocated for digging 4,000 water wells | SIS

Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate voices concern over detained journalists
Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate has expressed concern over the declining health of several detained journalists, blaming the Interior Minister. The syndicate’s Liberties Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that it has received multiple complaints from the families of journalists currently detained in the maximum-security prison of al-Aqrab in south Cairo. “The syndicate demands that [the journalists] be admitted to hospital and that they are provided with proper health care,” the statement read, adding that it holds the prison authorities and the interior ministry responsible for the detained journalists’ failing health. The Press Freedom Committee (PFC) will also meet to discuss the two-year imprisonment of photojournalist Mahmoud Shawkan, whose detention exceeds the legal maximum set by law. The meeting will also cover the detention conditions of other journalists. The Istiqlal Party raised similar concerns over prison treatment and called upon the Egyptian government to release party head Magdy Hussien. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya,DNE, 8/13/2015]

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  • Egypt’s scorching heat wave claims at least seventy-six lives in four days: Ministry | Ahram Online
  • Some Cairo doctors suspect virus, not heatwave behind dozens of deaths | Egypt Independent
  • Fever hospitals declare state of emergency | Egypt Independent
  • Ministry denies meningitis epidemic | Egypt Independent
  • Tomb of Nefertiti, Egypt’s mysterious ancient queen, may have been found | The Guardian
  • Transport Ministry to carry out random drug test for train and metro drivers | Cairo Post
  • Rehydration solution sachets, blamed for children deaths seized in Alexandria | Cairo Post
  • Eighty-five Labor protest cases reported so far in 2015: minister | Cairo Post

Egypt’s interior ministry investigates incident of ‘police brutality’ in Cairo metro
Egypt’s Interior Minister ordered an investigation on Wednesday into assault of a citizen at the hands of policemen inside a metro station, a ministry official said. A video circulated on social media late Tuesday showing a group of policemen surrounding and beating a citizen next to a moving train. The man had been stopped by police in the station, however, the reason he was stopped is unclear. Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar ordered that all policemen and officers accountable for the incident be summoned, said Abu Bakr Abdel Kereem, the deputy minister for media affairs. Abdel Kereem said the “violation” documented in the video “cannot be accepted by the ministry.” [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 8/13/2015]

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Egypt border guards apprehend illegal migrants to Italy
Egypt border guards claim to have thwarted an attempt at illegal immigration to Italy from Alexandria. The attempt included eight immigrants, including five Somali nationals, two Ethiopians and one Iraqi. All eight were arrested while waiting for their boat in an Alexandria port. The immigrants confessed that they had each paid sum of $ 2,000 in return for immigration to Italy. The agent responsible for coordinating their immigration attempt was also arrested. Egyptian prosecution was informed of the incident and has launched an official investigation. [Egypt Independent, 8/13/2015]

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