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Corruption, Mafia and Religious Terrorism Behind the Human Organs Trafficking in Egypt

Posted on November 8, 2011 by


Rome/Arish, November 8, so11. EveryOne Group is continuing its investigations, humanitarian actions and relations with international institutions and NGOs in an attempt to combat the terrible phenomenon of human organ trafficking. Over the last few days, after working with the CNN and other media to bring this odious trafficking to the attention of public opinion worldwide, our human rights defenders have sent new witnesses accounts and evidence to the international agencies that are committed to fighting the human organs trade. We have also started to collaborate with the COFS (Coalition for Organ-Failure Solution), a non-profit international health and human rights organization that is attempting to combat the trafficking of humans for organs and put an end to the exploitation of the poor as a source of organ and tissue supply. Here, in summary, are the updates about the trafficking in human organs in Egypt that we have sent to the international authorities, NGOs, and the media.

The World Health Organization still considers Egypt one of the main centres for the global black market in human organs. The laws approved when Mubarak was still President were not enough to reduce the illegal phenomenon. The market for human organs is an international market, like the drugs market, in which the Russian (or Israeli) Mafia, Arab Mafia and other criminal organizations work closely together to make huge profits.
Until a few years ago in Egypt there was a difference between smugglers and human traffickers. Sometimes the refugees encountered a gang of smugglers (from the Rashaida or al-Tarabin Bedouin tribes) and struck an agreement. On the receipt of $2,000 for Muslim refugees, and $3,000 for Christian refugees, the smugglers accompanied them to the border with Israel. Today, however, the Rashaida, al-Tarabin and al-Sawarka bands are working for Arab organized crime. The “passeurs” are the Bedouin smugglers who enter into the first agreement with the refugees already in Sudan or Libya. They then sell the groups of refugees to other bands when they enter the Sinai region. These traffickers ask from $10,000 to $25,000 per person to take the refugees to the border. To convince their relatives abroad to pay the ransom, the traffickers beat, torture, rape, and mutilate young refugees. Some are murdered by the traffickers to show the others they mean business. The girls are repeatedly raped, even in front of other refugees. The traffickers are always armed (and often under the influence of drugs) and the refugees are imprisoned in underground shipping containers. The camps are in Rafah, Gorah, Arish and other cities inside Bedouin property, often among fruit orchards and gardens. Those who fail to pay the ransom money are transferred to the organ market, and do not come back. We know of some cases of refugees who have survived the clinics after having only a kidney removed.

The former president Hosni Mubarak and his wife Suzanne had begun fighting this trafficking before the revolution. It is a difficult problem to solve because of weaknesses in – or the corruption of – law enforcement, and also because organized crime in Egypt is part of the fundamentalist jihadist movements. The head-traffickers are often seen by the population as “heroes of Islam” because they finance jihad activities. This is the case for the Palestinians Abu Khaled or Abu Ahmed, or the plunderers from the Sawarka family. Very often the human organs black market supplies the traffickers with weapons, instead of money they exchange them for human kidneys.  All the smugglers who control the tunnels between the two sides of Rafah are dealers in weapons, human beings and human organs.
The institutions in Egypt are perfectly aware who the traffickers are, and know of their links to Al-Qaeda and religious terrorism, but they do not intervene, either out of complicity or fear. Gangs have been known to attack police stations in order to free arrested accomplices.

With regard to the clandestine clinics, we have heard of mobile clinics and clinics in the cities. We know there are some illegal clinics in Cairo and that even in some official clinics they have removed organs for the black market, but unfortunately we have been unable to obtain precise data on this. Organised crime has succeeded in hiding this reality. Careful investigations are needed to reveal the dynamics of this aspect of human organs trafficking.

The Arab Mafia is closely linked to religious terrorism (see for example Lorenzo Vidino’s research) and the other Mafias, including the Russian Mafia (http://www.jamestown.org/single/?)no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4246 ). Trafficking in human organs is carried out by all criminal organizations and is a phenomenon that has no borders. The various Mafias in the world are not being fought effectively enough. In Italy the Mafia has a turnover of around 200 billion Euros annually. But this is a different matter, a very delicate and crucial one. With regard to the Sinai, there are clear links between organized crime and terrorism.