Egyptian Military Crackdown Leads to Arrest of American Citizen

In its efforts to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s military-backed government has begun arresting foreigners — including at least one American — accused of supporting the opposition

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MOSAAB EL-SHAMY / AFP / Getty Images

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi throw stones during clashes with security forces in Cairo on Aug. 14, 2013

The bullet stayed lodged in Mohamed Soltan’s arm for two days.

Soltan, 25, an Egyptian-American dual citizen with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Ohio State University, was one of the media spokesmen for the huge camp in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, where protesters called for the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. On Aug. 14, hours after security forces launched an operation to disperse the camp using bulldozers and live bullets, he was shot in the arm while speaking to a television news producer.

When contacted for an interview on Friday, Soltan said he could speak on the phone, but not meet in person. “Moving around is a little difficult,” he said in a text message. During the interview, he said he feared arrest. At least one other demonstrator he knew had been taken into custody after being treated in a hospital near Rabaa, he said, so he had a private doctor remove the bullet. His bandaged arm hung in a sling, which he removed whenever he encountered one of the police or army roadblocks scattered across Cairo under the military-backed government’s monthlong state of emergency.

(MORE: Egypt’s Military Defends Public Image Abroad After Fighting Protests at Home)

Now, according to Soltan’s family, his efforts to avoid arrest were in vain. At 2:19 E.T. on Sunday, his sister Hanaa Soltan, who lives in the Washington area, received a text message stating, “We’ve been arrested. Post.” She has been unable to reach her brother since.

“Our neighbors later told us that my parents’ house had been broken into and destroyed,” Hanaa said in an e-mail. “We aren’t sure if he was arrested at a different location and brought back to the house or if he and his friends had been arrested there.” Aside from Soltan, no other U.S. citizens are known to be in custody as a result of the crackdown.

A statement released by the Ministry of the Interior on its official Facebook page said an American citizen named Mohamed Soltan had been arrested, along with three others, including the director of the Islamist-leaning media network Rassd, a television presenter and a doctor. The statement said Soltan was found in possession of documents describing a plot to “spread chaos and violence in the country” by encouraging members of the army and police to defect.

(MORE: A Deadly Gamble: Egypt’s Salafists May Now Regret Support for the Military)

Since the suppression of the sit-ins, the security forces have launched a sweeping crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamist groups and opposition activists. Within two days, more than 1,000 people were arrested in the sweep, according to Reuters, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leaders. Morsi himself remains in custody at an undisclosed location. At night, in Cairo, a city that usually overflows with nocturnal activity, the streets are all but empty, the result of a state-declared curfew.

Soltan grew up in a conservative household. His father, Islamist scholar and leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Salah Soltan, taught for years in Michigan and Kansas. But Mohamed, who wears chunky glasses, T-shirts and sometimes a baseball cap, hesitates to call himself an Islamist. “I don’t like the label,” he said. “I consider myself a moderate Muslim. I’m a devout Muslim.” He is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or any Egyptian political party. As a student, he participated in pro-Palestinian activism, and attempted to travel to the Gaza Strip. He flew back to Egypt, the country of his birth, to join the winter 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

After finishing his degree at Ohio State, Soltan returned to Egypt again five months ago to begin a career as a business-development manager in an oil-services company. His father had been appointed under Morsi to serve as secretary general of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in the Ministry of Awqaf (religious endowments).

Soltan quit his job on June 30, the day of the huge protests that, three days later, triggered the military’s removal and arrest of Morsi, and joined the movement to reinstate the President. Because he spoke fluent English, he volunteered to help handle foreign media in the Rabaa camp.

(PHOTOS: Clashes Erupt in Egypt as Protesters March Against Earlier Bloodshed)

Twelve days before he went missing, Soltan was in the center of the chaos in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Tear gas seeped through the seal on his gas mask. Bullets buzzed past. Volunteers laid out bodies at the field hospital across the square. He continued to field calls from international media outlets, and hours into the assault he went to the front corner of the camp’s stage, previously used for speeches during political rallies, to charge his dying phone on power supplied by a backup generator. Demonstrators had erected a wooden wall as a makeshift shield against bullets. “We were getting hit from all different directions,” Soltan said.

At some point between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. he received a call from al-Jazeera English asking to speak to Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagy, who was on stage with him. As he leaned over to remove the phone from the charger, a bullet whizzed past his head, hitting the wooden wall behind him. A second round, fired from behind, hit him in his left upper arm.

“I felt like the Hulk punched me in my arm,” he recalled. He dropped the phone. Another demonstrator snatched a scarf from Soltan’s shoulders and wound it around his arm to stanch the bleeding. Overwhelmed by the number of casualties, the medics at the field hospital stitched up his arm with the bullet still lodged inside.

According to a Human Rights Watch investigation, the security forces’ use of live fire on Aug. 14 led to the worst incidence of violence in Egypt’s modern history. At least 377 people were killed in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square alone, the group reports. Hundreds were killed nationwide in four days of subsequent violence.

The government blames the opposition. Brigadier Hatem Fathy, the director of the International Relations Department of the Ministry of Interior, denied protesters’ claims that police snipers fired into the square from adjacent buildings, as demonstrators, including Soltan, claimed.

The military-installed government and its supporters, riding a wave of nationalist fervor, have insinuated that foreign nationals are participating in the Brotherhood’s demonstrations. Two Canadians, filmmaker John Greyson and doctor Tarek Loubani, have been in custody since Aug. 16 after they traveled to Egypt en route to the Gaza Strip. The two are reportedly held on charges of joining members of the Muslim Brotherhood in an alleged attack on a police station.

Even though he feared arrest, Soltan said on Friday that he planned to participate in protest marches against the military-led government. He predicted a long-term battle to end military rule. “We’re going to go out in the streets,” he said, “if it takes us a month, two months, three months, a year, 10 years.”

“The Egyptian side of my identity deserves as much freedom and democracy and liberty as my American side does,” he said. “It’s what I learned in sixth-grade civics class: Give me liberty or give me death.”

108 comments
xAtaturk
xAtaturk

@Hragy Coz poor people from Syria (some are Caucasians) got arrested/detained and given the "Egyptian" treatment ...

xAtaturk
xAtaturk

@Hragy So Egypt doesn't arrest foreigners and toss them in prison to rot and got beaten to death? When I say foreigners, I mean westerners

Mostafa Juba
Mostafa Juba

we have say it a million time we are facing a compelete military coup .. come on where is democracy or it`s only for americans only .. double mistake that u say we need democracy but not for egyptian specially islamists and by the way not all of protesers are M.B wake up

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin when 50 protesters were shot dead in Port Said a few months ago Mursi praised the police force for doing an excellent job.

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin oh and by the way opposition figures like Ahmed Doma were impriosoned under Mursi for writing on twitter!!

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin oh and by the way opposition figured like Ahmed Doma were imprisoned under Mursi for writing on twitter!!

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin or when 50 people were shot dead in Port Said and Mursi the clown praised them. It's appalling when the talk about democracy!!

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin and what democracy are the brotherhood talking about!! the mean when Mursi issued a const decree and gabe himself God like powers

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin After all these crimes and you don't want a police crackdown!!! are we Egyptians supposes to be terrorized so u are happy!!

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin Civilians were killed in Manyal, assiut, alex, giza all my MB/ Mursi supporters even before the dispersal of the sit ins.

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin and police slaughtered in Kerdasa and Aswan police stations all by MB/ Islamist/ Mursi supporters.

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin 100 police officers were shot dead the week of Aug 14 and 700 injured and 60 churches burnt and 21 police stations stormed

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin which means that some of the so called "peacful" protesters were armed since I am sure the police officers didn't commit suicide!!

Ninaalam
Ninaalam

@jmalsin your article just fails to mention that police officers were shot dead and injured while clearing the Rabaa Sit in.

陳榮盤
陳榮盤

Please President Obama's response to Taiwan people addressed to you on the following three reasons First, the United States basing on Taiwan military occupying power helped the KMT landing Taiwan, making Taiwan turns upside down-a series of tragedies. Second, the United States opposed any change to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait of Taiwan independence, but turned a blind eye to the Kuomintang, the Chinese Communist unilaterally changing the Taiwan Strait status quo. Third, the United States indulgenced President Ma Ying-jeou of its quasi-citizen or citizen continuing political persecution on Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian. To United States President Barack Obama an open letter. President Obama: How are you? I'm a Taiwan four-wheeled animal, today writing this letter to the leader of the most powerful country in the world, ' calling for:your country friendly treats Taiwan people please. Since the more than 60 years ago, post second world war, the United States had helped the KMT enter in Taiwan, it turned upside down and had suffered the 228 incident, '46 event', Lei Chen incident, Taiyuan event, Peng Ming-min event, Bai Yacan event, the beautiful island event---and so on. In particular the 228 incident, your country standed idly by, causing tens of thousands of Taiwan people to disappear from this land, (creepy). While Taiwan people spent 38 years of martial law a terrorist ' Cliff '. In 2000 the first time DPP had taken power , in 2004 the Democratic Progressive Party (continuing in power), until May 2008, the eight-year ruling period was the golden age of Taiwan "independent sovereignty" and "democratic freedoms" , but Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian stepped down then, "The heaven of Taiwan consciousness " fell into "The hell of Chinese consciousness ", from the garden of "democratic and free" dropping to "the abyss of dictatorship " The United States, Kuomintang, Communist China were against Taiwan independence in unison, so that United States allowed KMT and Chinese Communists to the outgoing Taiwan President into darkness. And made him become world most unuseful political prisoner: First, 23 hours he had been shut in ' homes room-1.38 ping ' shared by two people and video and lighting irradiation-he could not identify day and night ", second, and could not come to factory for work, third, and " interfered his medical human rights-ring nursing medical he could not select hospital ", IV, and more outrageous thing:President Ma Ying-jeou did not believe the medical report-suitable for home treatment, of fomer President Chen's medical team of Taipei Veterans General Hospital, sly took him to the Taichung prison.Originally being a iron man through upside down, the former President, now became a crippling discomfort old man. One ruling talent "KMT, and People First Party and the large China doctrine media did siegie in ,he had soluted the mess of KMT government:the Stagnation of Snow Mountain Tunnel,and Keelung River coastal low area of flooded water, and near NT 2 trillion yuan of financial bad loans, and continuing loss of State Career Institutions---etc. for problems, and had completed KMT government 50 or 60 years difficult to complete major traffic, and culture hardware and software construction, such as Taiwan North-South high-speed rail, and second Freeway, and 12 article East-West fast roads, and established" Hakka and Aborigines "Committee and Television---and so on," became a lonely old man "his comrades accepted political contribution he received, nearly get away. some even think dirty to get more (cursimg) more fiercely.He cultivated Tsai Ing-wen and Su Chen-Chang and Frank Hsieh-three politicians were callous . Local societies for thanking to the former United States Attorney General Clark to "caring President Ahbian" dinner they were not reluctant to participate in, let alone with him visiting President " .It is chilling. President Obama, "your country facing to," President Ahbian's 2,726,499 people signing up to the "world record" Taiwan joining the United Nations referendum " basing on," the identity of World War II of Taiwan military occupying nation" was wrath ,but facing to " KMT, CPC signing ECFA of unilaterally changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait ", the identity of military occupation" disappeared all of a sudden, people had feel bewildered. On being independent status quo of chang must not do, but on the uniform change "turning a blind eye," just "the motions". Is United States a nation of schizophrenia? it's trophy, but irrelevant to the Kuomintang, the Chinese Communists wheeling, don't let the trophy itselves stay alive.Does "the shadow of Japanese militarism" away go? led United States most not willingly see" independent Taiwan linking with Japan "? Years ago, National Geographic Channel broadcasted the documentary of Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion , a veteran-being more ninety years-old said similar such words" While atomic bomb explosion caused Japan people casualties, but to scare to end war, I don't regret to drop atomic bomb, ' my ideas has not been changing' ". The United States past had longly supported "anti-communist, anti-'Taiwan independence', exclusive Japan, murder does not blink" for the regime of two-Chiang, now supports "reliance on China ', anti-'Taiwan independence', against Japan, struggling political enemy for disregarding the law " Ma Ying-jeou's power. Does it make people more believe that it objects Taiwan indepedence being afraid of Japan? The whole world's most powerful leader to straighten your spine, who should face to face in ' Taiwan problem '. If the United States believes that Taiwan is not a country but it's the trophy, then it'll take back to, or allowing Taiwan independence to life. Also The United States should step in to stop the Kuomintang, the Chinese Communists unilateral change of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and urge President Ma Ying-jeou of its 'qausi-citizen or citizen', to release former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian. This is the obligation and responsibility of The United States , because it introduced the KMT to Taiwan many earthshaking events that took place, of course, it has to come good. Otherwise the whole world will see The United States is the country daring not face up to the problem by manufacturing problem. I sincerely look forward to your country thinking twice thinking twice. Rong Pan Chen on toast

nikitasuki
nikitasuki

@TIME @TIMEWorld What was he doing in Sinai in the middle of terroristes and with maps of the penisnsule? Turism???????

Yvonmoua
Yvonmoua

You know in Egypt is danger situation now, i don't know what business are you doing over there? for this time better you stay here in USA man. 

Amal Sayaheen
Amal Sayaheen

listen ! i hope you dont talk in this way about muslim brotherhood ... you just read the news and see the T.V .... and you dont know the truth of the matter .... all thing that you read and see it about them ..... lie ...... but unfortunately , we are people follow the despicable media .... !

TutAnkhAmon
TutAnkhAmon

-

 Every Al Qaeda leader was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the organization has its roots in the Brotherhood’s own Egypt. the September 11 attacks would never have occurred without the existence of the Brotherhood and that the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology acts as a “gateway drug” to more explicit forms of Islamic terrorism.

Gateway drug might well be an apt description of the Muslim Brotherhood which exists in layers. The deeper one goes into the green Islamist onion, the sharper and more violent the ideology becomes. Its power lies in deception and it is that deception which Stakelbeck tackles admirably in The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy.

A decade ago such a description might have seemed absurd. Even after September 11, when the front groups of the Muslim Brotherhood gained immense power and influence by positioning themselves as the moderate Muslim gatekeepers who could keep Muslim terror in check in return for political power and influence, it might have seemed ridiculous.

While both groups pursue the same exact goals—a Sharia-ruling caliphate followed by the subjugation of the “infidel” world, according to Islamic teachings—they follow different strategies. The Brotherhood has long argued that, because the Islamic world is militarily weaker than the West, now is not the time for an all-out jihad, but rather a time for infiltration and subversion, a time for taqiyya and short-lived promises. Conversely, jihadis generally disavow pretense and diplomacy, opting for jihad alone.

Paul Coggins
Paul Coggins

i do believe that muslim countries have gone TOTALLY INSANE. Is it the sun ?

Colin MacKinnon
Colin MacKinnon

Everyone who is not a citizen needs to get out of there quickly.

Kemuel Chavez
Kemuel Chavez

only because the comment is under Victor's, doesn't mean she responded to him...

Allen Hall
Allen Hall

Well I'm glad I already had my visit back in '08. :-P

Majed SyRian
Majed SyRian

They want to convince us that the conscience of the United U.S. In pain From order the Arab peoples ...... ! And they are angry, of chemotherapy, who was invented in Syria as invented in Iraq previously ..... ! But when it was bombed Gaza with phosphorous weapons, its conscience was asleep Besides courage Arabic in the same bed ... ! It turned out, that marriage bed .....

Elias
Elias

The Military leaders and their supporters must believe in democracy and democratic processes and impart an opportunity to any body who comes to power by public mandate. The nonperformance by the rulers itself shall slide them down at next hustings. Massacring, killing their own blood for a turnaround gives birth to Hitlers, Stalins in Society and an ending blood bath.

President George Bush of America brought the country to the economic lowest and the previous Republican rulers have always misused the public exchequer by invading weak countries on pretexts but the tolerant, mature and democracy imbibed people of America only replaced them with democratic alternates and did not indulge in civil wars. The naive reactionary Egyptians supported by the butcher Military Rulers must learn lessons and accept democracy, waiting to replace  Morsi and company the next Election for their failure. Impatient to become Great Britain and USA overnight, with help of the Military is illusion you have tested many a time from Naser to Mubarak. These reactionary Egyptians must propagate their ideology against the ideology of the Muslim brotherhood to garner the support of the masses to dethrone Morsi and others by democratic way of election.
 They must know that president Obama has a Muslim blood and is overall a Democrat who would not do any thing to harm any innocent Muslim mass or any other weaker section of any Religion,.Their own reaping would fruit the harvesting and shape their destiny.

Okan Ozkan
Okan Ozkan

Can you add me, I need to talk to..veronica thk ok

Angéla Qare
Angéla Qare

Come on NOW; let’s give PEACE a total chance PEOPLE!!! . . . NO more wars, NO more killings of any kind, NO more aggression. Let ♥, EMPATHY, PEACE & HARMONY rule throughout the planet in all corners of our world. We are not just killing our human species, we are also killing the forests, the animals, the insects & every other little species we may not yet even know about. NO MORE!!! :/

Allie Wright
Allie Wright

If you're going to make a comment, you might want to make sure you're making sense. Victor? I was responding to the content of the article, and making an overarching comment about the swings of extremes and the nature of fear. I'll hope that you actually read the article.

Mary Lou Muckleroy
Mary Lou Muckleroy

What do you suggest? If you're going to disagree with Victor, then let's hear your ideas.

Lucy McWilliams
Lucy McWilliams

Yeah good one Egypt. Kill off an industry that raises billions of dollars in revenue per year and employs a tenth of your workforce. Good forward planning there.

Rikka Lisa Marie Seibert
Rikka Lisa Marie Seibert

It's true Muhamd. Egypt went through a democratic process we have to uphold and respect, with Morsi promising to rule for all. Of course, red flags were up but it is not our position to rule your country. We continued the agreements in place. When democracy failed due to Morsi's alliances and the people's rejections, we have been ready and waiting at the door. You hate us if we help and you hate us if we don't. The US would never support a known terrorist group. We cautiously waited to see if Morsi would make good on his promises. Obama is not your enemy. The US does not want a war in your region. Tell our govt and the UN what you need, what you want and make a plan with the west.

Mohamed Farid Elsisi
Mohamed Farid Elsisi

Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group and should be rounded up along with their supporters, Egyptians or foreigners alike.

Hragy
Hragy

@xAtaturk the Egyptian prison system needs to be dismantled and brought out from 15 century-for all,and for Egyptians like foreigners.

Elias
Elias

@Mohamed Farid Elsisi 
 You people are animals worse than the religious politicians. Unable to teach the innocent people of Egypt to buy your way and accept your ideology, you are indulging in exterminating your adversaries and inviting an unending conflicts based on radical jihads.