State Security Investigative Service (SSIS)
General Directorate for State Security Investigations (GDSSI)
Gihaz Mabahith Amn al-Dawla
Internal security was the responsibility of three intelligence organizations: General Intelligence, attached to the presidency; Military Intelligence, attached to the Ministry of Defense; and the State Security Investigative Service (SSIS), [formerly known as the General Directorate for State Security Investigations (GDSSI)], under direct control of the minister of interior. Any of these agencies could undertake investigations of matters pertaining to national security, but the GDSSI was the main organization for domestic security matters. After the Sadat era, the tendency of military intelligence to encroach on civilian security functions had been curbed.
The SSIS ensure the security of the state, provide intelligence, and have a stake in protecting the NDP's interests, so long as the dominance of that party is directly tied to the fortunes of the government.
Nasser established a pervasive and oppressive internal security apparatus. The security police detained as many as 20,000 political prisoners at a time and discouraged public discussions or meetings that could be construed as unfriendly to the government. The security police recruited local informants to report on the activities and political views of their neighbors. Under Sadat intelligence forces were less obtrusive but still managed to be well informed and effective in monitoring subversives, opposition politicians, and foreigners. The security police's failure to uncover the plot leading to Sadat's assassination tarnished the reputation of the force. The security police also seemed to be taken by surprise by the CSF riots and failed to prevent other disorders such as a series of assassination attempts by radical Islamists in the late 1980s.
The authorities have never revealed the personnel strength of the GDSSI, which played an important role in government by influencing policy decisions and personnel matters. The GDSSI engaged routinely in surveillance of opposition politicians, journalists, political activists, foreign diplomats, and suspected subversives. The GDSSI focused on monitoring underground networks of radical Islamists and probably planted agents in those organizations. According to some sources, the GDSSI had informants in all government departments and public-sector companies, labor unions, political parties, and the news media. The organization was also believed to monitor telephone calls and correspondence by the political opposition and by suspected subversives.
In the past, the regime had given the GDSSI considerable leeway in maintaining political control and using emergency laws to intimidate people suspected of subversion. The GDSSI remained the primary organ for combatting political subversion even after Mubarak and the judiciary took several steps to limit the organization's power.
The GDSSI was accused of torturing Islamic extremists to extract confessions. In 1986 forty GDSSI officers went on trial for 422 charges of torture that were brought by Al Jihad defendants. After lengthy legal wrangling, the court absolved all the GDSSI officers in mid-1988. The judgment concluded that the GDSSI had indeed tortured Al Jihad members but said there was insufficient evidence to link the particular GDSSI officers on trial with the torture.
Domestic and international human rights groups reported that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) State Security Investigative Service (SSIS), police, and other government entities continued to employ torture to extract information or force confessions. The The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) documented 30 cases of torture during the year. In numerous trials defendants alleged that police tortured them during questioning. During the year activists and observers circulated some amateur cellphone videos documenting the alleged abuse of citizens by security officials. For example, on 08 February 2009, a blogger posted a video of two police officers, identified by their first names and last initials, sodomizing a bound naked man named Ahmed Abdel Fattah Ali with a bottle. On 12 August 2009, the same blogger posted two videos of alleged police torture of a man in a Port Said police station by the head of investigations, Mohammed Abu Ghazala. There was no indication that the government investigated either case.
On 06 February 2009, the SSIS detained pro-Palestinian blogger and activist Dia Eddin Gad under the Emergency Law without charge after he insulted President Mubarak on his blog as a "Zionist, an agent for Israel, and a loser." On March 23, the ANHRI released a public statement accusing the government of placing Gad in solitary confinement, depriving him of medical care, and threatening to kill him. On 27 March 2009, the SSIS released Gad. According to the government, the SSIS arrested Gad under the Emergency Law because his activities posed a threat to public order. On July 22, the SSIS detained three MB-affiliated bloggers--Magdy Saad, Abd El Rahman Ayyash, and Ahmed Abu Khalil--and held them for appoximately a week before releasing them. The three bloggers had criticized trials of MB members in military courts and voiced support for MB detainees. On 10 March 2009, the SSIS released blogger and activist Mohammed Adel, who was previously affiliated with the MB. The SSIS had held Adel in detention since November 2008. SSIS officers allegedly seized many of Adel's books and CDs from his home and tortured him in detention. Adel's blog called for MB detainees to be released. According to the government, the SSIS arrested him for illegally entering Palestinian territory.
Police and the SSIS reportedly employed torture methods such as stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending victims by the wrists and ankles in contorted positions or from a ceiling or door frame with feet just touching the floor; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electric shocks; dousing victims with cold water; sleep deprivation; and sexual abuse, including sodomy. There was evidence that security officials sexually assaulted some victims or threatened to rape them or their family members. Human rights groups reported that the lack of legally required written police records often effectively blocked investigations.
The government did not permit visits to prisons or other places of detention by independent human rights observers during the year, despite repeated requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other domestic and international human rights monitors. Some prisons remained completely closed to the public. As required by law, the public prosecutor continued to inspect all regular prisons during the year. In November 2008 the People's Assembly Committee on Human Rights announced its decision to visit police stations randomly and inspect detention centers to determine whether they complied with human rights standards. According to the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), a committee delegation visited four police stations in Cairo and reported on overcrowding and lack of ventilation. According to the NCHR, in April officials from the Office of the Public Prosecutor visited 80 police stations and detention centers throughout the country. SSIS detention centers were excluded from all inspections.
The MOI controls local police forces, which operate in large cities and governorates; the SSIS, which conducts investigations; and the CSF, which maintains public order. SSIS and CSF officers are responsible for law enforcement at the national level and for providing security for infrastructure and key officials, both domestic and foreign.
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