In newsmaking comments Monday, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the frontrunner for this month’s Egyptian presidential election, admitted he has faced two assassination attempts.
Al-Sisi is the country’s former military chief who famously deposed Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.
In a television interview, al-Sisi was asked how many assassination attempts had been uncovered.
He replied: “Two attempts to assassinate me. I believe in fate, I am not afraid.”
While he did not specify who was behind the attempts, WND in March was first to report Egyptian forces caught a Hamas cell plotting to assassinate Egyptian leaders, including al-Sisi, according to an Egyptian security official.
The claim demonstrated the continued deterioration in relations between Egypt’s secular military rulers and the Islamic radical Hamas group in neighboring Gaza.
The Egyptian security official said the Hamas cell admitted upon interrogation to a plan to assassinate al-Sisi and other secular Egyptian leaders as potential targets, the official said.
Under al-Sisi, the Egyptian military last July deposed the U.S.-supported presidency of Muslim Brotherhood member Morsi. The military has since been fighting the Brotherhood and Islamic extremist groups acting in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
In February, WND reported thousands of foreign jihadists were attempting to infiltrate Egypt, stoking fears of a coming destabilization campaign akin to the insurgency in Syria, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The officials warned of a troubling development taking place among the al-Qaida-linked organizations already inside Egypt. They said there is information the militant groups are forming a de facto chain of command, with alarming coordination between the various jihadist factions embedded around the country.
The terrorist infrastructure is being set up beyond the Islamist stronghold of the Sinai Peninsula. The officials said al-Qaida-linked groups in Egypt have been forming divisions replete with leadership and assignments to specific territories, including in the Sinai, Suez regions, outside Cairo and along the Delta.
Some Internet al-Qaida forums have even been discussing the possibility of declaring the Sinai an Islamic emirate.
The security officials told WND in February that militants killed in a recent Egyptian military operation targeting the terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai included jihadists from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, evidencing the foreign nature of some of the fighters.
The security officials said al-Qaida groups believe the way to weaken the Egyptian economy is to target both transport and tourism.
In February, Germany joined a list of countries strongly advising against tourist travel to all regions of the Sinai.
The move followed the announcement by a Sinai-based Islamic extremist group warning tourists to vacate Egypt before Feb. 20, threatening to attack those who remained in the country.
The same group claimed credit for a suicide bombing on a tourist bus earlier in February in the Sinai near the Taba border-crossing with Israel. Two South Korean tourists and an Egyptian were killed in the attack.