Guest Post: Busted . . . Pro-Mubarak Thugs Are Police Officers

Washington’s Blog

It should surprise no one that some if not all of the violent pro-Mubarak forces are plain clothes police officers.

The Guardian notes:

Sharif Kouddous, a prolific Egyptian tweeter and blogger in Cairo, describes “a brutal and coordinated campaign of violence” by the Mubarak regime, in an article posted on Democracy Now’s website:

“Suddenly, rocks started falling out of the sky,” said Ismail Naguib, a witness at the scene. “Rocks were flying everywhere. Everywhere.” Many people were hit. Some were badly cut, others had arms and legs broken. The mob then charged in; some rode on horseback and camels, trampling and beating people. Groups of them gathered on rooftops around Tahrir and continued to pelt people with rocks.

“It’s a massacre,” said Selma al-Tarzi as the attack was ongoing. “They have knives, they are throwing molotov bombs, they are burning the trees, they are throwing stones at us … this is not a demonstration anymore, this is war.”

Some of the attackers were caught. Their IDs showed them to be policemen dressed in civilians clothes. Others appeared to be state sponsored “baltagiya” (gangs) and government employees. “Instead of uniformed guys trying to stop you from protesting. You’ve got non-uniformed guys trying to stop you from protesting,” Naguib said.

AP points out:

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak charged into Cairo’s central square on horses and camels brandishing whips while others rained firebombs from rooftops in what appeared to be an orchestrated assault against protesters trying to topple Egypt’s leader of 30 years. Three people died and 600 were injured.

The protesters accused Mubarak’s regime of unleashing a force of paid thugs and plainclothes police to crush their unprecedented 9-day-old movement, a day after the 82-year-old president refused to step down. They showed off police ID badges they said were wrested from their attackers. Some government workers said their employers ordered them into the streets.


“If any of the violence is instigated by the government, it should stop immediately,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

CNN writes:

The United States doesn’t know the identity of “thugs” who attacked anti-government protesters Wednesday in Egypt, but others have identified them as “supporters of the government,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

“This was clearly an attempt at intimidating the protesters,” Crowley said.

And Al Jazeera reports:

Protesters in Tahrir Square shows the Al Jazeera camera the ID cards of accused plain clothed security (police ID) who came in earlier to create chaos.

File 4816

This is just like when the British police attacked the non-violent protesters led by Gandhi, or the police in towns in the South of the United States attacked the peaceful protesters led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Note: The police were also the ones doing most, if not all, of the looting. See this and this.

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George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Doug Terpstra

    Thanks, GW. Chris Floyd is all over this and is more damning of US-Israeli involvment. I suspect Netanyahu is soiling himself and pushing Obama to squelch this democracy thing by any means necessary, short of the Sampson Option (nukes) which Israel always keeps on the table. It reeks of dirty CIA “strategery”, like Iran in 1953. From Floyd’s Empire Burlesque:

    “I must agree with As’ad AbuKhalil: The violence we are seeing in Egypt today (Wednesday) is a direct result of a green-light from Washington to “do what it takes” to preserve the Cairo regime. Today we have suddenly seen hundreds of “pro-Mubarak” goons pouring into the public squares to attack the non-violent demonstrators. The Egyptian Army – whom most of the demonstrators had lauded and looked to for protection from the police – is now apparently refusing to interfere with the attacks by the goon squads against the unarmed protestors. The UN reports that at least 300 people have already been killed in violence against the demonstrators since the uprising began: this number will now rise, perhaps sharply.”

    “What is happening seems clear: Mubarak, backed by Obama, has decided to foment a storm of bloodshed, chaos and fear in order to provide a justification for “restoring order” – i.e., crushing the uprising by force. This course could not have been adopted without the support of the Cairo regime’s patrons and paymasters in Washington. None of this should come as a surprise. From the very beginning, the administration of Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been killing people – most of them defenseless civilians – all over the world to advance a brutal agenda of militarist domination and the enrichment of corrupt elites.”

    [and quoting AbuKhalil]: “There are a lot of similarities already between Iran of 1953 and Egypt of 2011. Don’t forget what happened in 1953 in Iran. The CIA then hired armed goons and thugs to defeat the pro-democracy movement. This time around, the armed goons are hired by the regime itself. …”


    “I don’t trust the Egyptian army: the top brass is hand picked by the US/Israel [coalition] and can be easily bought off by a combination of bribes, gadgets, and perks. They could care less about the Egyptian people. This is part of the ruling group of this tyrant. ..”

    “The US is now arranging for a coup against the will of the Egyptian people. … This move by Obama towards Egypt can be described as criminal because it will lead to blood on the streets.”

    1. DownSouth


      I believe it is important for Americans to watch and learn from what is transpiring in Egypt. Tyrants always hide behind a mask, and the kabuki can get very convoluted.

      Fouad Ajami in this interview on CNN Anderson Cooper 360 made a couple of very incisive observations. Ajami says he thinks Mubarak still may have a couple of arrows in his quiver:

      One is to present this revolt against him as an American-inspired movement. He’s played that game before. The game of anti-Americanism has always been just the underside of the Mubarak game.

      So you have a U.S.-backed puppet dictator masquerading as anti-American, with the dictator and the U.S. both following the script. To Mexico watchers there is nothing new or novel here.

      The Mexican Revolution of 1910 was as much of a revolution against the U.S. as it was against Porfirio Diaz. As Carlos Fuentes writes in The Buried Mirror:

      By 1910, U.S. property in Mexico amounted to 100 million acres, including much of the most valuable mining, agricultural, and timber land, representing 22 percent of Mexico’s land surface. The complexes owned by William Randolph Hearst alone extended to almost eight million acres.

      So it is no surprise that one of the things to come out of the Mexican Revolution was what Enrique Krause in Mexico: Biography of Power called the “Eleventh Commandment of official Mexican mythology: Thou Shalt Not Trust Americans.”

      So here in Mexico, the spectacle of seeing a U.S.-backed puppet spewing anti-American epithets is hardly anything new, and apparently the same holds true for Egypt.

      The people of the U.S., I believe, are not attuned to this sort of duplicitous rote. But they need to wake up to it, because they are now being treated to it in spades. Obama is a master of this sort of duplicity, boisterously blasting America’s ruling oligarchy while quietly doing its bidding.

      The second thing is he wishes to incite violence in the country. He will be the kind of man who will both be the arsonist, who would be setting the fire, and the fireman who is putting out the fire.


      We’ve seen this play before. You will remember, and maybe our viewers will recall, that just before the end came for Saddam Hussein, he opened his prisons and let loose the criminals on society in order to dramatize the need for a strong man.


      And his understanding of politics is primitive, he only understands, as he put it in the speech today to the Egyptian people, it’s either stability, his kind of stability, or chaos. There is nothing in between.

      The exact same play Ajami describes is being acted out in Mexico as we speak. President Felipe Calderon came to power in a blatantly fraudulent election. He has no electoral legitimacy, and he has no moral or intellectual legitimacy: The neoliberal polices for which he has been anointed caretaker have devastated the working- and middle-classes of the country. So to tighten his grip on power, he instigated the “War on Drugs” and unleashed untold violence on Mexico.

      Perhaps the most insidious tactic employed by authoritarian regimes is one called stigmatization and scapegoating. As Richard C. Friedman explains in Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective: “Stigmatization and scapegoating involve labeling some individuals as members of an outcast group; they therefore thrive on discrete categories, not on continua. So, as Ajami points out, in Mubarak’s mind there is no middle ground between Hobbes’ “Leviathan” and Russian Nihilism, or, as Michael Allen Gillespie dubbed it in Nihilism before Nietzsche, “The Demons Unbound.”

      But again, Americans (and British) need to watch and learn so as to become atune to this sort of perfidy. As Adam Curtis so thoroughly documents in The Power of Nightmares, The Politics of Fear, George Bush and Tony Blair were masters at this sort of kabuki. And I think Obama is an even better thespian than Bush or Blair.

      1. DownSouth

        And the Mexican drug capos are certainly aware of the role they play in this drama. Obama has his Osama, and Calderon has his Chapo, as this Mexican Corrido makes clarion.

    2. Elliot X

      The Chris Floyd website was hacked today, and was down for much of the day. It’s back up now and in a post entitled “Hacked Again: Can you help find lost texts?”, Chris Floyd had the following to say:

      “You will have noticed that this website was hacked again on Thursday, another savage assault that hijacked the front page and, worse, ransacked files behind the scenes as well.

      We’ve lost all the most recent posts, dating back to January 18. Owing to the often difficult circumstances in which I put together most of these posts, I rarely have the text on hand once a piece has been published on the website. If in the unlikely event that any reader out there has kept a copy of the recent posts in some form — or even remembers the headlines — I would be very grateful if you could pass them along.”

      Obviously someone doesn’t appreciate the fact that, unlike the MSM, Chris Floyd is helping to reveal the ugly truth about US foreign policy….

  2. Cos

    The one thing that needs to shared (which is NOT spoken about on any MSM, including Al Jazeera), Egypt has been under Emergency Rule since 1981 when Sadat was assassinated. 30 years of Emergency Rule!!!

      1. kezza

        Huh? How did Obama renew this “state of emergency” in 2002–2008, as you claimed _he_ did _renew_ it in 2002–present?

        1. Procopius

          Yeah, he got that part wrong. Actually, we’ve been in an official “state of emergency” since at least 1939. Roosevelt started it AFAIK, but it’s been renewed continually by every President since. It’s established by Presidential order, and has profound legal implications. It’s one of the tools that has allowed the advance of the Unitary Presidency.

      1. Whelks

        Repealing the emergency rule has been mentioned, though admittedly infrequently. But it’s clearly something that has to go if there’s to be hope for free and fair elections.

  3. BigBadBank

    There’s a world of difference between uniformed police trying to control crowds and thugs with iron bars, rocks and razors.

    If you want an analogy try American sponsored death squads in Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Supporting vicious dictators against popular reform movements has been a mainstay of American foreign policy for 50 years.

  4. Richard Kline

    This development is not surprising in form. It’s been reported that Ben Ali in Tunisa followed exactly the same progression: looting by regime security on a false flage basis; later ‘popular’ counter-demonstrations which were those same goons and stooges. What is surprising is how amateurish the effort is: the counter-revolutionaries were repulsed from the square Wednesday, with snipers or potshoters operating in a few places after dark. This wasn’t just in Cairo, but that said you can’t control 80m with a ten thousand goons with sticks. There’s been no effort to round up (or far worse assassinate) those on coordinating committes of the demonstrations; a good thing, but also indicative of the feebleness and inefficacy of this repression by the Egyptian kleptocracy. This kind of counter-mobilization on the streets is as futile in and of itself as it is desperate, and it is signature of its stupidity that it’s being used even though the method failed completely in Tunisia. It will raise the cost in lives of change, but not change the outcome. That effigy of Mubarak hanging from a streetlamp may be replaced by the man himself, but if the cost is thousands killed I’d forego the pleasure of the livestream . . . .

    A few inferences: I do _not_ think the US authorities greenlighted this latest action, even though all the training and strategy behind it was provided prior to events by the US. Getting the present occupants out but keeping a pro-US elite in place seems to be the main course finally muddled together in the West Wing judging by the course of events, trusting that the US trained and friendly Egyptian military can be used to ring Egypt back to an American orbit by intertia over the next few years.

    A second inference is that neither too much nor too little should be read into the passivity of the Egyptian military. From statements made by those deployed to the media on the ground there, it is clear that they are acting _under orders_, and that furthermore those orders are _not to fire or to take a side_. That says that a chain of command is operative at least from field grade down; the troops are all doing the same thing even in a tumultuous context. But one shouldn’t infer that there is any unity of program or intent amongst the general offier corps, and the policy of _deploy and wait_ strikes me as an explict attempt to keep factions in the military from firing ON EACHOTHER. I would assume that the Presidential Guard there is more actively under the control of Mubarak and his mafia, and that is much of the basis for his confidence and odious pugnacity. The military doesn’t want to destroy itself, so it’s lock itself down more or less; that is what I see. That might be taken as a good thing or a bad thing, but it means the loss of life will likely be far lower as long as that condition holds, so I’d call it a positive.

    The popular forces have to get control of some of the media, and some of the principal public facilities. That’s going to be very dangerous and costly, but it can’t wait. They need to make a move, and I would expect that we’ll see something of this kind on Friday. The general strike has been very good, it’s put huge pressure on the regime. It was a technique pioneered by (and overused by) the original anarchists, but its effective if you have a popular majority. It would be good to hear direct appeals from the popular organizers to mid-level functionaries in the government and police to refuse further orders from the discredited regime.

    And what we see of Mubarak: this is the real man. He isn’t a ‘president;’ he isn’t a ‘patriot;’ he has no real ‘courage.’ He is a despot, with contempt for those who haven’t managed to get power like him. His regime has severely tortured anyone the don’t like for decades, and executed thousands on trumped up charges, or no charges. He isn’t on a scale of a Big Nasty such as some we could name, but his rule has been substanively no different. He’s a carbon copy of Ferdinand Marcos, for instance. This is exactly the kind of autocrat the US recruits, funds, and pampers, and has done so for 120 years. This is how we operate, though guys like him. Now think back on all those fawning fabulations you’ve seen spackled around the word ‘Mubarak’ in the main stream US media for years and years, and you get a real full frontal on the reality distortion field those who govern in the US operate for the rest of us here.

  5. Just Some Guy

    At the World Trade Organization protests in Canada the violent ‘anarchists’ in the crowd were smashing shop windows, setting fires and so on until somebody noticed they were wearing standard issue police boots.

    When people called them out on it all of them ran for the police line who let them in without question.

    This was recorded several times on cell phone video and has been uploaded to youtube repeatedly.

    For the record, I support free trade but not police states.

  6. attempter

    Citizens on the scene said the mob switched abruptly from orchestrated chanting to coordinated violence at every point at precisely 2:15. It was a premeditated assault, organized by the police.

    How marvellous that the democracy met the thugs’ assault, took all they could dish out, and repulsed them.

    If we can assume the Shock and Awe goal was to confuse, dismay, and panic the citizens into fleeing the square, then the police not only failed, but their attack is likely to backfire on them.

    Today the democracy knows it can give as good as it gets from this filth, that they’re not so tough.

    It’s just the people doing what they’ve done since the start, facing each challenge as it comes and overcoming it. All in a day’s work.

    I wrote more about this in the latest of my Egypt series.

    1. fajensen

      I think the purpose of the goons was to get some real rioting and looting going so that the army could do it’s Tienanmen-square thing. With the approval of the US and the EU.

      Even though they would whine about “human rights” and “the appaling loss of life” they prefer a dictatorship that sucks the blood and sell the organs of its population to pay the bondholders to a popular government which will tell “the west” to go blow it!

    1. DownSouth

      The discussion by Andrew Gavin Marshall and Adrienne Pine about the type of democracy the United States imposes on its client states reminded me of something the Peruvian poet Mario Vargas Llosa said about Mexico. It is “the perfect dictatorship,” he said. It has all the bells and whistles of a democracy, but is in reality a dictatorship.

  7. Gerald Muller

    I am surprised that the comments limit themselves to the immediate events. Now what, apart from indirect help from the Tunisians, is at the core of this “unrest”? In my opinion, it is demography: Egypt and Algeria (Tunisia is a bit different) have had the highest birth rate in the last 30 years. While so many young people might be looked at as a favorable thing, in fact they grew faster than the economy. Simple result: the young do not have enough jobs and jobless youngs have a tendency to revolt, once a spark is ignited.
    I am not naïve: neither of these governments are saints: there is a lot of corruption with a resulting loss of riches to a happy few. But what are Americans to criticize this when their banksters do the same in a “legal” way? At the end of the day, the whole world is more or less corrupt in various ways. Greed and total lack of morality have won in this decadent society.

  8. TC

    JACKPOT! When pondering who might be instigating such things, look first to the experts…

    “This is just like when the British police attacked the non-violent protesters led by Gandhi, or the police in towns in the South of the United States attacked the peaceful protesters led by Martin Luther King, Jr.”

  9. leroguetradeur

    I doubt any Western reporters have much idea what is really going on. The key actors are invisible to them.

    We are in the early stages of a revolution. In this stage, the political establishment has split, and the group in power seeks to buy off the other by concessions. You see this in all revolutions, the early stages are modest, relatively peaceful and are marked by liberalization.

    At the next stage, the group in power yields some authority and some popular semi representative institutions are created or empowered. At this point some assembly, whether elected for the purpose, or left over from previous elections, becomes important, and the lurch to radicalism starts. The rival establishment group vanishes from the scene, and is replaced by increasingly radical and extreme elements.

    What happens next depends on the extent of the crisis. In times of real economic hardship, or the kind of disaster that the old regime in Russia experienced due to the war, anything can happen, and it is likely that the lurch to radicalism will take the revolution to the terror phase. The terror phase can be based on almost any ideology, it could in the present case be religious.

    An essential component of the move to the terror phase is a well organized and ideologically coherent group, ready and willing to seize opportunity. In the Russian case it was the Bolsheviks. In the case of Egypt it will probably, if it happens, be some religious grouping, perhaps one we have not even heard about. The Brotherhood could easily play the role of the Mountain or Kerensky, and also pay its price.

    If this is at all correct, Western journalists interviewing English speaking members of a rival establishment clique, and talking to them about the aspirations of the people, are completely out of touch. Whatever the outcome is really going to end up being, it is nothing to do with what these people think or want. These are not ‘the people’. We have not yet seen ‘the people’, and if and when we do, the present spokespeople will find it as terrifying and unfamiliar as the rest of us.

    The more concessions the regime makes, and the worse the economic crisis becomes, the closer we get to the moment at which the lurch to radicalism and the destruction of the establishment political class happens.

    It will not be conducted in English, and there will not be any BBC interviews during it.

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