Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian authorities have tightened security measures around the Suez Canal following intelligence suggesting Muslim Brotherhood supporters intend to target the key waterway on November 4, the first day of former president Mohamed Mursi’s trial.
Mursi—who was removed in a military intervention on July 3 following mass public demonstrations—will stand trial alongside 14 other senior Brotherhood figures on charges of inciting violence, attempted murder and murder.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “military and police have deployed forces along the 160-kilometer Suez Canal waterway and tightened inspection procedures over the roads next to it, as well as on the cars going to and from Suez via Sinai or Cairo, to prevent the smuggling arms and capture any terrorists or outlawed elements.”
“Tight precautionary procedures around the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula were established yesterday [Friday], as the Brotherhood started protesting against Mursi’s trial,” the source added.
Military and police units have also been deployed at the entrances and exits of the cities in northern Sinai, particularly in El-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, where “Takfirist and Jihadist groups are on their last legs,” the security source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Located along the Egyptian–Israeli border, the Sinai Peninsula has suffered from a security vacuum since Mursi’s ouster earlier this year. Egyptian security and military forces have been launching an extensive security campaign in the area to eradicate growing extremism.
According to a spokesman for the armed forces, Col. Ahmad Mohamad Ali, “Military and central security forces have raided and searched several of El-Arish’s villages and managed to detain 36 armed terrorist elements in possession of arms and ammunition.”
“The 3rd Army stepped up its presence in front of all dynamic facilities along the waterway, including in the tourist Ain Sukhna area as well as Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula,” the source added.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, a Suez Canal source said: “The movement of ships is currently normal, and 57 ships carrying over 3 million tons of cargo have passed through the canal.”