Sisi establishes new Egypt counter-terror unit

Soldiers in a convoy secure a military funeral ceremony of security personnel killed in attacks in Sinai, outside Almaza military airbase where the funerals were held, in Cairo, January 30, 2015. (File photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s President Abdelfattah al-Sisi established a new counter-terrorism entity in an executive decree on Saturday, days after a militant attack killed more than 30 people in the Sinai Peninsula, al-Ahram Online reported.

After meeting with the county’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Sisi designated his Chief of Staff Osama Roshdy head of the new unit, which will reportedly address threats east of the Suez, including volatile regions in the Sinai Peninsula.

On Thursday night, four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai were among the worst in the country in years. Sinai Province, the Egyptian wing of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and police officers.

Sisi said Egypt was confronting the “strongest secret organization in the world,” a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Then army chief, Sisi removed Brotherhood leader Mohammad Mursi from the presidency in July of 2013 after mass protests against Mursi’s rule. The military takeover was followed by a fierce crackdown on the movement, which says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Egyptian officials make no distinction between the Brotherhood, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Sinai Province, previously called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, arguing the groups pose a major threat because they share the same ideology.

The Brotherhood, which accuses Sisi of staging a coup and robbing Mursi of power, said in a statement from its office in Britain that it was appalled by the killings in Sinai.

It accused the army of displacing people in Sinai and burning and destroying cities. “There is no solution to this situation, except by returning the army to its barracks,” it said.

Islamist militants based in Egypt’s Sinai region, which has a border with Gaza, have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since Mursi’s political demise. The insurgency has spread to other parts of Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

Hours before Sisi’s comments, an Egyptian court banned the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas - an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood - and listed it as a terrorist organization.

[With Reuters]

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Last Update: 06:39 KSA 09:39 - GMT 06:39
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