Egypt, which has been combating terrorism since the 30 June revolution, has a wide experience in dealing with this phenomenon, especially due to events during the 80’s and 90’s of the last century. This experience enabled us to put an end to terrorism to the extent that some terrorists announced their repentance and renounced violence after making an ideological revision.
The terrorism threats nowadays far exceed the ones that were present in the last century. In the past, terrorism was restricted to some groups and had no regional extensions. There were no international intelligence networks masterminding terrorism or offering logistical and financial support.
Our strategy for countering terrorism should include specific time stages. Each stage has its aims and tools used for fighting terrorism. In my estimation, this strategy should consist of three stages of time. The first is the security confrontation, which is already happening now. In this stage terrorism is faced with the legitimate use of force, which is an exclusive right for the state. Resorting to force in combating terrorism is for the welfare of citizens and we must bear in mind that this can take about three years.
As regards the second stage, it should be developmental in character where the state tackles terrorism in marginal areas and slums by launching successful development plans. In the third stage, the state must start a new chapter with those who declare their repentance, give up their weapons and follow the peaceful way of expressing their ideas according to the law and constitution.
Another key point is that there should not be any intervals between the three stages. That is to say, implementing the aims of one stage can overlap with pursuing the aims of another. For example, the priority of security does not mean neglecting the other stages until the security confrontation with terrorism is over. We should carry out the three stages simultaneously as if they were one stage. In other words, at the time when the state is facing terrorism in legitimate ways, it should also be immediately pressing ahead with development and economic plans which have been formulated over the last few decades.
Sinai has a special priority at the present moment. The measures taken by the state and the National Defence Council regarding the creation of a buffer zone, imposing curfew and besieging terrorists are not enough. Developing Sinai must start immediately by implementing feasible projects such as connecting the peninsula to potable water and extending railway lines there.
The concurrence of the security and military confrontation with the economic and social development in Sinai is the advisable technique in eliminating terrorism. It would not only terminate those who carry out terrorist operations but also those supporting them behind the scenes with money, plans, training and recruiting. This strategy will help expose those who seek to buy the loyalty of unemployed youth who are looking for any opportunity to live a better life and who are mentally ready to be part of a terrorist system.