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Exclusive- Egyptian Officials Deny Report on Officers Joining Terrorist Group

Exclusive- Egyptian Officials Deny Report on Officers Joining Terrorist Group

Thursday, 1 February, 2018 - 07:30
Egyptian army soldiers patrol the Cairo-Ismailia desert road in Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egyptian security officials have denied a Reuters report entitled “Egypt's ex-army officers pose growing security threat.”

The news agency said on Wednesday that in October, Emad al-Din Abdel Hamid, a former army commando who had embraced violence, led a desert ambush against Egyptian police.

His decision illustrates a growing threat from ex-officers ready to turn their guns on the security forces, Reuters said.

Abdel Hamid, whose group Ansar al-Islam claimed the attack and hailed him as one of their leaders, was later killed in a retaliatory air strike. But his death has not discouraged more army officers and police from joining Ansar, Reuters quoted three Egyptian security sources as saying.

The three sources said that in recent months up to 30 more captains and lieutenants in the security forces have joined the Ansar network, which is headed by one of the country's most wanted men, former special forces officer Hisham al-Ashmawy.

But an Egyptian military source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the report is part of a systematic media campaign against the Egyptian state.”

Reuters could have been reporting about desertion cases that the Egyptian authorities had already made an announcement about, the source said.

A security official in the Egyptian interior ministry also described the report as “baseless.”

“Any officer who has left the service, could have done so because he failed to carry out the tasks he had been given,” the official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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