Sisi talks terrorism with SCAF day after Russia says bomb brought down plane in Sinai

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi presided over a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Wednesday to discuss confronting the threat of terrorism, particularly in the troubled Sinai Peninsula.

The meeting comes a day after Russian officials said a bomb caused a Metrojet passenger plane to crash shortly after departing Sharm el-Sheikh on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

Egyptian authorities have largely dismissed claims of terrorism, cautioning foreign media and officials to await the final results of Egypt’s ongoing investigations into the crash. Egyptian media has toed the state line, saying the bomb theory was a foreign conspiracy to harm Egypt’s national security and tourism sector.

While speaking to SCAF, Sisi declared the Armed Forces must be vigilant and ready for combat, and called on security forces to exert the utmost effort to confront threats of terrorism, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

SCAF members then outlined the military’s latest security measures and their plans to purge both Sinai and mainland Egypt of all terrorist members to guarantee nationwide security, Al-Ahram said.

Sisi reportedly praised both the police and military for their joint efforts to weed out terrorists.

Foreign media have reported international concerns that Egypt’s security isn’t up to the task, however, given speculation that a security breach at Sharm al-Sheikh Airport allowed a bomb to be smuggled into the cargo of the ill-fated Russian plane.

Sisi called on SCAF “to keep the complicated regional situation in mind, along with the difficult conditions confronting several states” in the Middle East as they developed their security strategies, Al-Ahram reported.

Security on the Egypt-Libya border, the war in Syria and the Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen were also discussed in the meeting.

Sisi then pointed to recent terrorist attacks that struck a number of friendly states, arguing that ending the violence “requires strengthening security cooperation, along with concerted efforts in the international community to devise a comprehensive approach to defeat terrorism, and to eradicate extremist ideology.”

In a recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, as well as in meetings with several heads of state, Sisi has consistently sought to portray his administration as an indispensable ally in the global war on terrorism. The president has also insisted that Egypt is winning its own war against domestic terrorist groups, despite the surge in deadly attacks that have spread from Sinai to the mainland since he assumed office mid-2014.

On Monday, Sisi also presided over a meeting with the National Security Council to address counterterrorism measures domestically and internationally. He made nearly identical remarks as in his meeting with SCAF, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

Presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef said Sisi also emphasized the necessity of shielding Egypt’s youths from extremist groups by incorporating them into state development plans and encouraging them to take on leadership positions.

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