Following an urgent meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree to form a unified military front to fight terrorism in the area east of the canal.
The meeting was convened following a series of coordinated attacks on security checkpoints in North Sinai on Thursday that left at least 31 dead, including two civilians.
In a speech after the meeting, Sisi offered his condolences and reiterated that the fight against terrorism is one Egyptians chose to engage in when they supported the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.
Security expert Magdy al-Shahed told Mada Masr that a unified military front has been created to develop a coordinated strategy for the military and government agencies operating in the area.
The new front is to be led by General Osama Roshdy Askar, who will be promoted to lieutenant general, effective from Saturday.
Shahed said the front will have the authority to issue direct orders to any wing of the military and any state actors in the area. Going against such orders will be punishable in a military court.
Sisi said in his speech that a Muslim Brotherhood leader had requested a meeting with him on July 21, 2013, weeks after Morsi’s removal, and threatened that agents from all over the world, including Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine would come to fight the Egyptian state.
Sisi said the current wave of terrorism is to be expected, as the Brotherhood’s logic is “we will either rule you or kill you.”
“You said, ‘no you will not rule us’, so we [the military] said ‘we will be killed instead of you’,” he said, reiterating that the state will be victorious against terrorism, but that the support of the people is needed.
In a statement following the meeting, the SCAF said they had discussed the ramifications of Thursday’s terrorist attacks and that the president had commended the Armed Forces for their efforts in fighting terrorism.