US Bankrolled Anti-Morsi Activists


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It may also have broken US government regulations that ban the use of taxpayers' money to fund foreign politicians, or finance subversive activities that target democratically elected governments.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>A main conduit for channeling the State Department's democracy funds to Egypt has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Federal documents show NED, which in 2011 was authorised an annual budget of $118m by Congress, funneled at least $120,000 over several years to an exiled Egyptian police officer who has for years incited violence in his native country.
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>This appears to be in direct contradiction to its Congressional mandate, which clearly states NED is to engage only in "peaceful" political change overseas.
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Exiled policeman
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman – who served in Egypt's elite investigative police unit, notorious for human rights abuses – began receiving NED funds in 2008 for at least four years.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>During that time he and his followers targeted Mubarak's government, and Soliman later followed the same tactics against the military rulers who briefly replaced him. Most recently Soliman set his sights on Morsi's government.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Soliman, who has refugee status in the US, was sentenced in absentia last year for five years imprisonment by a Cairo court for his role in inciting violence in 2011 against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, two US allies.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>He also used social media to encourage violent attacks against Egyptian officials, according to court documents and a review of his social media posts.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>US Internal Revenue Service documents reveal thatNED paid tens of thousands of dollars to Soliman through an organisation he created called Hukuk Al-Nas (People's Rights), based in Falls Church, Virginia. Federal forms show he is the only employee.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>After he was awarded a 2009 for Hukuk Al-Nas. In 2010, he received $60,000 and another $10,000 in 2011. 

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>In an interview with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, Soliman reluctantly admitted he received US government funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, but complained it wasn't enough. "It is like $2000 or $2,500 a month," he said. "Do you think this is too much? Obama wants to give us peanuts. We will not accept that."

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>NED has removed public access to its Egyptian grant recipients in 2011 and 2012 from its website. NED officials didn't respond to repeated interview requests. 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>'Pro bono advice'
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>NED's website says Soliman spreads only nonviolent literature, and his group was set up to provide "immediate, pro bono legal advice through a telephone hotline, instant messaging, and other social networking tools".

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>However, in Egyptian media interviews, social media posts and YouTube videos, Soliman encouraged the violent overthrow of Egypt's government, then led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black”>"Incapacitate them by smashing their knee bones first," he instructed followers on Facebook in late June, as Morsi's opponents prepared massive street rallies against the government. Egypt's military later used those demonstrations to justify its coup on July 3. 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black”>"Make a road bump with a broken palm tree to stop the buses going into Cairo, and drench the road around it with gas and diesel. When the bus slows down for the bump, set it all ablaze so it will burn down with all the passengers inside … God bless,"
  150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>In late May he instructed, "Behead those who control power, water and gas utilities."
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Soliman removed several older social media posts after authorities in Egypt took notice of his subversive instructions, court documents show.
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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>More recent Facebook instructions to his 83,000 followers range from guidelines on spraying roads with a mix of auto oil and gas – "20 liters of oil to 4 liters of gas"- to how to thwart cars giving chase.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>On a YouTube video, Soliman took credit for a failed attempt in December to storm the Egyptian presidential palace with handguns and Molotov cocktails to oust Morsi.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;background:white”>"We know he gets support from some groups in the US, but we do not know he is getting support from the US government. This would be news to us," said an Egyptian embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Funding other Morsi opponentsThe Salvation Front main opposition bloc, of which some members received US funding, has backed street protest campaigns that turned violent against the elected government, in contradiction of many of the State Department's own guidelines.

A longtime grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy and other US democracy groups is a 34-year old Egyptian woman, Esraa Abdel-Fatah, who sprang to notoriety during the country's pitched battle over the new constitution in December 2012. lay siege to mosques and drag from pulpits all Muslim preachers and religious figures who supported the country's the proposed constitution, just before it went to a public referendum.

The act of besieging mosques has continued ever since, and several people have died in clashes defending them. 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Federal records show Abdel-Fatah's NGO, the Egyptian Democratic Academy, received support from NED, MEPI and NDI, among other State Department-funded groups "assisting democracy". Records show NED gave her organisation a one-year $75,000 grant in 2011.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Abdel-Fatah is politically active, crisscrossing Egypt to rally support for her Al-Dostor Party, which is led by former UN nuclear chief Mohamed El-Baradei, the most prominent figure in the Salvation Front. She lent full support to the military takeover, and urged the West not call it a "coup".

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>"June 30 will be the last day of Morsi's term," she told the press a few weeks before the coup took place.

US taxpayer money has also been sent to groups set up by some of Egypt's richest people, raising questions about waste in the democracy programme.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Michael Meunier is a frequent guest on TV channels that opposed Morsi. Head of the Al-Haya Party, Meunier – a dual US-Egyptian citizen – has quietly collected US funding through his NGO, Hand In Hand for Egypt Association. 150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Meunier's organisation was founded by some of the most vehement opposition figures, including Egypt's richest man and well-known Coptic Christian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, Tarek Heggy, an oil industry executive, Salah Diab, Halliburton's partner in Egypt, and Usama Ghazali Harb, a politician with roots in the Mubarak regime and a frequent US embassy contact.

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mso-bidi-font-family:Arial”>Meunier has denied receiving US assistance, but government documents show USAID in 2011 granted his Cairo-based organisation $873,355. Since 2009, it has taken in $1.3 million from the US agency.

Meunier helped rally the country's five million Christian Orthodox Coptic minority, who oppose Morsi's Islamist agenda, to take to the streets against the president on June 30.

Reform and Development Party member Mohammed Essmat al-Sadat received US financial support through his Sadat Association for Social Development, a grantee of The Middle East Partnership Initiative.

The federal grants records and database show in 2011 Sadat collected $84,445 from MEPI "to work with youth in the post-revolutionary Egypt".

Sadat was a member of the coordination committee, the main organising body for the June 30 anti-Morsi protest. Since 2008, he has collected $265,176 in US funding. Sadat announced he will be running for office again in upcoming parliamentary elections.

After soldiers and police killed more than 50 Morsi supporters on Monday, Sadat defended the use of force and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, saying it used women and children as shields.

Some US-backed politicians have said Washington tacitly encouraged them to incite protests.Saaddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American politician opposed Morsi.

Ibrahim's Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo receives US funding, one of the largest recipients of democracy promotion money in fact.

His comments followed statements by other Egyptian opposition politicians claiming they had been prodded by US officials to whip up public sentiment against Morsi before Washington could publicly weigh in.

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Others said the United States cannot be held responsible for activities by groups it doesn't control.

"It's a very hot and dynamic political scene," said Michelle Dunne, an expert at the Atlantic Council think-tank. Her husband, Michael Dunne, was given a five-year jail sentence in absentia by a Cairo court for his role in political funding in Egypt. email message that the US has paid politicians in Egypt, or elsewhere in the Middle East. "Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
Arial;background:white”>"The US does not provide funding for parties or 'local politicians' in Egypt or anywhere else," said Abrams. "That is prohibited by law and the law is scrupulously obeyed by all US agencies, under careful Congressional oversight."
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"The US government provides support to civil society, democracy and human rights activists around the world, in line with our long-held values, such as respecting the fundamental human rights of free speech, peaceful assembly, and human dignity," the official wrote in an email. "US outreach in Egypt is consistent with these principles."

A Cairo court convicted 43 local and foreign NGO workers last month on charges of illegally using foreign funds to stir unrest in Egypt. The US and UN expressed concern over the move.

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