Alleged busting of Regeni abduction gang prompts praise, scorn online

Interior Ministry statements on Thursday claiming to have tracked down and killed a criminal gang likely involved in the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni have been met with a wide range of reactions, from praise and relief to skepticism and scorn.
Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been alive with comment since Thursday's announcement, in which officials stated that police had recovered the bag and passport of Regeni, which they said was in the possession of a gang known for violent crimes, including kidnapping.
The Interior Ministry said on Thursday that security forces had targeted the criminal gang, which had "specialized in impersonating police officers, kidnapping foreigners and forcibly robbing them."

After following leads relating to alleged cases of robbery and impersonating police officers, security forces say they tracked down the gang, discovering Regeni's bag in their possession, and killing the four alleged gangsters in a shoot-out.

The ministry named the four alleged gang members as follows: Tarek Saad Abd El-Fatah, 52, described as a dangerous offender guilty of fraud and other offences; his son Saad Tarek Saad, 26; Mustafa Bakr Awad, 60, charged with fraud and 20 varied offences; and Salah Ali Sayed, 40, who the ministry said had committed similar crimes.

Responding to the news, MP Mostafa Bakry praised the Interior Ministry's efforts on his Twitter account on Friday.
"The success of the Egyptian security forces in finding the killers of the young Italian man Regeni and finding his belongings and his passport at the home of one of [the killers] is an effort we should thank the [ministry] for, demonstrating the Egyptian authorities' version of the story, and refuting the attempt to falsely stick the crime on the Egyptian police in order to incite the Western community against Egypt," Bakry wrote.
He said he hoped the "skeptics" would cease repeating their lies, saying that those skeptics are only helping terrorists to undermine the country and create chaos.
"Those liars who do not stop repeating falsehoods through the media and social networking sites will never undermine Egypt nor its institutions and achieve their criminal schemes," Bakry said.
"Egypt will triumph in spite of haters," he said, adding that the discovering and killing of the suspects refuted claims against the police and confirmed that the motivation behind his killing was criminal.
Others joined Bakry in celebrating the killing of the gang members, among them Magdy al-Sayyed, who wrote, "Some see the Interior Ministry's statement on the killing of Guilio Regini as scandalous, but they do not realize that their own position toward their country is more scandalous."
Meanwhile, Bassem Amin wrote on Twitter, "We must thank the police, just as much as we blame them when they commit violations, especially since Regeni was not the only victim of the gang, which specialized in the robbery of foreigners under duress."
However, others were less the convinced of the Interior Ministry's account of events, including activist Wael Ghonim, who took to Facebook to poke fun at the ministry's statement.
"It's really nice how the gang, specialized in the robbery of foreigners under duress, tortured Regeni to death after abducting him then they decided to keep his passport and university ID at their home as a souvenir, despite knowing that the local and international media are talking day and night about the incident and that the security apparatuses seek the killers," he wrote.
"You look like a failing child who is trying to hide his failure and misfortune with an unbelievable story. Enough cheapness," Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef wrote on Facebook.
Former MP Ziad al-Elaimy, meanwhile, took to Facebook to present 12 questions and ready-made answers relating to the ministry's account of events: "Why did the gang keep the documents of the student they killed? Because this gang is known specifically for collecting souvenirs belonging to its victims. Why didn't they keep souvenirs belonging to former victims? Because the hobby of collecting souvenirs started with [Regeni] specifically. Why did they torture him? To force him to reveal the PIN nubmer of his credit card. Why haven't they used the credit card? Because the victim held on to the information and didn't reveal it."
Elaimy added: "How could he be abducted from Tahrir Square amid tight security measures on January 25? Using a microbus. Why will the gang move in daylight with a dead body [in their microbus]? They were going to dump him in 6th October City. Why was the whole gang killed? They clashed with the security forces. How come none of the security forces was killed or injured? I am a member of the security forces, your highness. Why did the gang kill him if they are specialized in theft under duress? A new experience. Why didn't the criminals smoke the hashish found in Regini's bag? Because it's a souvenir. If gangs impersonate police officers, how am I, as a citizen, going to trust the police I see on street? From their appearance."
Activist Shady al-Ghazali Harb, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter, "Its clear that the Interior Ministry lives the illusion that the whole world are like Sisi supporters and will believe anything they are told and hail the inspiring leader and his regime. You disgraced us."
In addition to the skepticism concerning the official narrative, some commentators were concerned about other dimensions of the case, such as the deaths of the alleged gang members without a trial and the ongoing implications for the tourism sector.
"Everybody has forgotten that there are five people who have been killed as if they were worthless and did not deserve a trial," Mohamed al-Naggar wrote on Twitter.
"The [Interior] Ministry announced the killing of Regini's killers, which is a gang that abducts foreigners. This story blows up the tourism sector in Egypt," Ibrahim Meselhy wrote.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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