Speculation mounts as US security alert sparks anger in Egypt

Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard on Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square on January 25, 2016. (AFP)

Warnings issued by the US, British and Canadian embassies in Cairo urging citizens to avoid gatherings in Cairo until Sunday, Oct. 9, sparked speculation over what stands behind the unexplained security alerts.

On Friday, the US Embassy in Cairo issued a travel warning for American citizens to avoid large gatherings and public spaces citing "potential security concerns." The embassies of Canada and Britain issued similar advisories over the weekend, but gave no reason for issuing them.

The statements did not specify the reason for security concerns behind the warning, sparking rumors over the real motives.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said his ministry "denounced issuing such unjustified statements that may have negative consequences, including damaging the economy."

Egypt’s interior ministry denied there were any credible security threats on Sunday.

But security analyst Khaled Okasha and Director of the National Center for Security Studies said such alerts were “understandable” and “acceptable” as countries issued them based on information they received.

Okasha added that there could have been coordination between the American and Egyptian sides, he told Al Arabiya English.

Okasha said while the latest alert could be considered “routine” due to the US administration continued concerns over possible attacks and the safety of its citizens abroad, he noted that scheduled court hearings on Sunday for two Islamist militant groups could be a reason to stay alert.

Cairo-based Political Sociology Professor Saeed Sadek suggested the intelligence in these countries could have information over a “possible terrorist attack.”

He recalled last week’s killing of two leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in a shoot-out with police, and suggested the Egyptian state had been on high alert since then in case of any attacks happen in retaliation.

Some had speculated that alerts were issued in concurrence with the anniversary of the Maspero Massacre, which commemorates the killing of 27 Coptic Christians on Oct. 9, 2011.

Like Okasha, Sadek downplayed the anniversary would be the reason behind any security concern, saying it has been always “a peaceful social event.”

*Additional information by The Associated Press

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48