The administration of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly discovered a cache of weapons and raided five bomb factories in connection to a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) plot to carry out terrorist attacks.
MB has expanded into the West — namely the United States, Europe, and Australia — in addition to other countries across the world since the Egyptians founded the group. The group has been officially designated a terrorist organization in various Muslim-majority nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Citing comments from the Egypt’s Interior Ministry, Reuters reports that the Sisi government confiscated a stash of weapons and ammunitions on Thursday found hidden in a graveyard and house in Fayoum province, southwest of the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
“It also said it raided five bomb factories around the country on Wednesday, accusing a militant group of coordinating with the Brotherhood to attack police checkpoints on the eve of the [November 11] protests,” adds the news outlet.
“The armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood intended to use the weapons in terrorist attacks as they take advantage of economic conditions to incite protests,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Nevertheless, MB, Egypt’s oldest political movement, insists it is peaceful and denies having an armed wing.
The Muslim Brotherhood, after being removed from power in 2013, may be seeking to present itself as a viable alternative that can provide stability if it is allowed to rule once again, or it could just be seeking revenge against Sisi.
However, the little-known militant group calling itself Movement of the Poor, which had been urging Egyptians to take to the streets on November 11 to protest against rising prices and deepening austerity, ended up cancelling the demonstrations on Wednesday, fearing a police crackdown.
“The call [to protest] gained traction on social media after Egypt floated its pound and raised fuel prices last week, a move hailed by bankers but bemoaned by ordinary people as the latest blow to their dwindling spending power,” notes Reuters.
The Movement of the Poor’s predictions of a police crackdown became a reality.
Egypt imposed a big security clampdown in its cities on Friday as mass demonstrations called to protest against austerity measures failed to take place.
Riot police and armored vehicles filled the otherwise empty streets of central Cairo, but most people stayed at home.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has urged Egyptians not to protest and warned that there would be no going back on economic reforms, no matter how much pain they might cause.
Sisi has already deployed the army to deal with Egypt’s economic problems, prompting fears from critics that the increasing use of the military will impact the private sector.
Military trucks “fanned out across Egypt, distributing the imported infant formula to be sold at half the price charged by retailers — part of a military venture that illustrates how President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is increasingly turning to the army to tackle the country’s economic woes,” reports the Financial Times (FT).
Reuters adds, “In a boost for the government, the International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved a three-year, $12 billion loan to Egypt aimed at supporting the reforms, and the central bank said it received a first tranche of $2.75 billion.”
There is bad blood between the MB and President Sisi. As the top military chief in Egypt back in July 2013, Sisi led the public movement to overthrow the U.S.-backed Muslim Brotherhood member and former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi from power.
Sisi is himself Muslim but has long presented himself as more secular than his ousted predecessor.