Security in the Sinai Peninsula was questioned on Sunday following the large scale coordinated attacks in its north on 29 January that targeted security facilities in Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said what happened “will be repeated”, while security analysts claimed stability will come and that the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is affiliated with the attacks.
Al-Sisi cut his participation in the African Union Summit short and returned to Cairo from Ethiopia after the attacks. He addressed the nation in a televised speech saying that “Egypt is facing the most dangerous secret organisation in the world”.
He said that “he was well aware that this was going to happen”.
“You knew as well we that this organisation was strong, trained, funded,” he said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood and the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
Al-Sisi also referred to 21 June 2013, when he would have met with one of “the father leaders of this organisation” who threatened “that militants from across the world will fight you [Egyptian Army]”.
General Alaa Bazeid, Director of the Egyptian institution Strategic and Security Studies Centre, said Al-Sisi was referring to his meeting with Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater who “threatened with whatever is currently happening in Egypt”.
Bazeid said the current terrorist group operating in Sinai emerged from the “Muslim Brotherhood terrorist entity”, as there has been constant coordination between the two entities. He stressed former president Mohamed Morsi’s recognition of Hamas indicates that there is an affiliation between terrorist groups in Sinai and the Muslim Brotherhood.
‘State of Sinai’, the Sinai-based militant group formerly known as Ansar Beit A;-Maqdis, emerged following the 25 January Revolution. However, its operations increased significantly following the ouster of Morsi in July 2013. They primarily target security personnel and anyone cooperating with them and their operations are mainly conducted in the peninsula though their reach expanded in several attacks to other governorates, including Cairo.
In November 2014, though, the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
Al-Sisi stressed during his speech that the fight against terrorism will continue and that Sinai will not be left to anyone but Egyptians.
He also noted that “some countries are led today by leaders from this organisation”, referring to Turkey and Qatar, according to Bazeid.
Security analyst Abd Al-Moneim Saeed said that “the terrorist operations come in accordance with successes of the political leadership in Egypt”.
Al-Sisi’s speech marked the importance of people’s awareness and support of the role played by the armed forces to confront terrorism, said Saeed, adding there is no alternative to countering terrorism and “that people should stand behind the armed forces”.
Saeed said that it’s likely that outsiders helped the militant group in implementing the operation, whether with training or with weapons and ammunition.
Al-Sisi added that in past times there were no exchanges of army news during wars for the morale and the will of the nation.
A representative from the military office told Daily News Egypt that the number of deaths after the attack will not be announced by the army.
Saeed said that the militant group is aiming to defame the armed forces with their claims that hundreds had died.
It’s expected the situation “will stabilise” due to Al-Sisi’s decisions to increase security measures in Sinai, he added.