Their Only Witness

Their Only Witness

State Security Apparatus (SSA) Officer, Atef el Huseiny, is the only witness in the case of 40 Muslim Brotherhood leaders standing before a military tribunal. Of course this is not his real name; for SSA officers know what they do as part of their jobs, torture, mass arrests, beating demonstrators…etc, is not socially acceptable. Their wives and children will not be proud of them, and probably would be ashamed to walk with them down the street, or be identified as their relatives, siblings or spouses by any means. Therefore, they do not use their real names.
During the court session last Sunday, El Husiny said that he has been solely undertaking the investigation for the entire groups of suspects for six months. How could that be true? I simply cannot find an answer.
The suspects live in different provinces, most of which have never been visited by the notorious officer. Moreover, some of them are being trialed in absentia, simply because they are not members of the Brotherhood, live abroad, and have not visited Egypt for decades. So how could the super-officer investigate such a case alone? This is a question that requires a logical answer.

In his testimony during the session, el Husiny said nothing of legal importance. He did not provide any substantial evidence for his claims. He kept speaking about the suspects having money and financing MB activities. He was reading his testimony from a notebook, and yet failed to present a solid argument, or respond to any questions.
When asked about the link between MB leaders and Islamists living elsewhere in the world, El Huseiny, provided a name of a person who does not exist; a name that appeared for the first time in the court session, and never appeared before in any investigations. When Khayrat El Shater, the detained Muslim Brotherhood deputy chairman, and the primary suspect in the case, challenged him, he retracted the name. The judge, a military officer, rescued the El Huseiny by adjourning the session for two days, till El Husieny was able to reorganize himself, and of course come up with a justification for the contradictions. 

El Huseiny’s testimony could not be taken seriously for a few reasons. First, different civilian courts that acquitted MB members before their referral to military tribunals found his investigations to be “groundless and politically motivated”. They said the investigations could not be taken seriously as they are “claims that lack any sort of evidence, and are completely fabricated by the SSA.” This should be more than enough to denounce his testimony altogether. Nonetheless, there are other reasons where it should be denounced.
El Huseiny is a clear deviation from the stereotype of police officers we watch in movies and TV series. He is not the officer who sacrifices his life and safety for his country, or for the people. Although the very same statement applies to most SSA officers, el Huseiny is still different. His notorious history does not solidify his testimony any more than civilian courts do.
I first heard of El Huseiny during the parliamentary elections of 2005. Although he serves in Cairo, as the SSA Officer in charge of following Muslim Brotherhood activities in East Cairo, he did not miss beating up voters and fabricate election results in Sharqiyyah. I remember seeing him with his smuggling surrounded by a handful of thugs giving them orders to prevent people from going into the voting center in Zagazig, where MB Executive Council member Muhamed Mursi was running for a parliamentary seat. Later on that day, he was personally supervising the vote count process. Needless, to say, Mursi failed to make it to the parliament that year.
It took only a few more months to hear his name once again. During the demonstrations supporting the judges’ call for judicial independence in May 2006, El Huseiny’s name popped out once again. He was leading the thugs and police forces brutally cracking down on demonstrators. He was seen in several locations on that day, each time accompanied by reports about erupting violence.
It was then that I heard of other chapters of his notorious history. He was a leading figure in the police forces cracking down on a Kifaya demonstration on the day of the referendum in May 2005. These ‘brave’ police forces sexually assaulted female demonstrators, and almost raped one of them. It was a sad day in Egypt’s modern history, and another disgusting chapter in El Huseiny’s history.

Besides being the only witness in the 40 MB members standing today in front of a military tribunal, El Husieny was also the sole witness in the military tribunal which took place in 2001. With the same extralegal procedures, disrespect of law, and sidelining legal processes, a large number of Brotherhood members were sent to prison, including Mohamed Ali Bishr, one of the suspects in the ongoing tribunal.
Being the one and only witness for a couple of times, and knowing that no one could challenge him because the stage is already set to send Brotherhood members behind bars, El Huseiny frequently threatens MB members to add their names to the list “in the first upcoming military tribunal.” This happened with two of the ongoing case’s suspects, who were not ‘cooperative’ during investigations in one of their earlier detentions.

I am writing this article knowing that my personal security might be endangered, and that my personal freedom might be undermined. But I am writing it so that people could see how unjust the ongoing trail of Muslim Brotherhood members is. I am writing it so that human rights’ activists will realize how hypocrites they will be if they do not move to defend the detainees. I am writing it so that those who are interested in international peace and security know how moderate groups are being dealt with, and to understand the reasons for the empowerment of the radical sentiment. I am writing this article, hoping that human rights, freedom and democracy activists, as well as journalists, academicians, writers, policy makers and civil society organizations do take a step against tyranny, injustice and authoritarianism.