Sinai tribes 'warned Egyptian government about jihadi threat'
Published Tuesday 07/08/2012 (updated) 08/08/2012 21:57
An Egyptian soldier stands guard at a checkpoint in Rafah city on the
Egyptian border, August 6, 2012. (Reuters/Stringer)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Sinai tribes say they repeatedly warned the Egyptian government about a jihadi threat in the peninsula, before Sunday's attack which left 16 Egyptian police officers dead.
"Military intervention came late after we warned the Egyptian authorities about extremism and terrorism in Sinai, especially after the revolution," Sheikh Khalaf al-Maniei, from the Al-Sawarka tribe said Monday.
Al-Maniei said he had witnessed jihadi groups training in the Sinai, in areas around Sheikh Zuweid in the northern Sinai and Wadi al-Amro in the center of the peninsula.
Over 1,500 armed militia members have been training there since the revolution ended, he said, adding that the groups seemed to be made up of international members.
"We warned the Egyptian army as jihadi groups have heavy weapons, and have been training intensively, but nobody listened," al-Maniei added.
Tribes are worried about any kind of military intervention to fight terrorism and lawlessness in the Sinai, as it may harm them, al-Maniei said.
"It’s better if they tell us their security plans," he said, adding that if army raids target Bedouin tents indiscriminately it could cause a problem for the army.
A deputy from the al-Fawakhreyeh tribe, Abed al-Hamid Salmi, told Ma'an's correspondent that Sinai tribes had met Egyptian intelligence officials on Monday.
"We know that there are Israeli plans to re-occupy parts of the Sinai as Israeli authorities seek to protect its state from terrorism," Salmi said.
"This might happen if the Egyptian army fails in fighting terrorism in the Sinai which will lead Israel to legitimately control all the way between Sinai and el-Arish. Therefore, we warned the Egyptian security from such plans, and we will protest, and will plan for a public uprising, as well as closing the Rafah crossing," he added.
Sheikh Muhammad Munei, a member of one of the largest Sinai tribes, confirmed that they released a statement condemning the attack.
They will cooperate with the Egyptian army to fight such attacks and terrorism, the statement said.