The US Congress’s Egypt Human Rights Caucus has called on the Biden administration to investigate reports about the Egyptian Air Force’s use of U.S.-supplied equipment to kill suspected smugglers
The Congress’s Egypt Human Rights Caucus released a statement on December 1 calling on the Biden administration to investigate recent reports about the Egyptian Air Force’s alleged misuse of U.S.-supplied equipment to kill suspected smugglers.
The statement follows revelations by French investigative outlet Disclose showing that Egyptian forces used military intelligence provided by the French government—and advanced combat aircraft supplied by the United States—to target and arbitrarily execute civilians suspected of smuggling.
The caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), wrote, “This possible misuse of American-supplied equipment (including Cessna 208s and F-16s) would violate U.S. law, the terms of contracts signed with the United States, and undermine U.S. policy that has aimed to support a rights-respecting Egyptian government that can protect itself from legitimate threats.”
They pointed out that the allegations are “consistent with past reports suggesting a systematic shoot-first strategy by the Egyptian military in the Western desert,” including the 2015 incident in which Egyptian forces used a U.S.-supplied Boeing Apache helicopter to target a tour group, killing 12 people and leaving U.S. citizen April Corley permanently disabled.
“If these reports are substantiated, we urge the President to freeze military assistance and to consider whether the Egyptian military officials responsible should be subject to the relevant human rights sanctions,” added the group.
The caucus concluded, “These reports, if confirmed, should spur a deeper debate about the value the American taxpayer gets from gifting $1.3 billion in weaponry to Egypt’s military-run regime. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we will continue to press for directing America’s limited foreign assistance resources to governments whose values and actions align with our national interests.”
Disclose, an investigative website published a report on November 21, based on hundreds of classified French documents, showing that Egypt used intelligence provided by the French military to kill civilians.
Disclose has obtained hundreds of secret documents, circulated at the highest levels of the French state, which reveal the responsibility of France in crimes committed by the dictatorship of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, where readers can discover “the terror memos” in the website’s week-long series of investigative reports, beginning Sunday November 21st.
Egypt has reportedly used intelligence supplied by the French military to target and kill civilians suspected of smuggling, according to Disclose, based on leaked documents.
According to the report, titled, “Operation Sirli”, French intelligence was meant to support Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts on the border with Libya.
It quickly became clear, however, that Egypt was instead using it to “facilitate the murders of civilians who were suspected of smuggling activity.”
According to Disclose’s sources, the French forces sent to support their Egyptian counterparts may have been involved in at least 19 airstrikes against civilians between 2016 and 2018 in Egypt.
The French team reportedly expressed concerns to their superiors over how the intelligence was being abused on a number of occasions, and “the French presidential office was kept constantly informed,” but neither the political nor military leadership took any action in response.
As shocking as the revelations are, this would not be the first time that Egyptian security forces took advantage of foreign military support, including U.S. equipment, to attack civilians:
The Washington Post also reported that the year before these bombings began, Egyptian forces used a U.S.-supplied Boeing Apache helicopter to target a tour group, killing 12 people and leaving U.S. citizen April Corley permanently disabled.