Top tribal chief says Sinai chiefs warned armed forces about extremism

Abdallah Gohama, the chief of the Tarabeen tribe and the top tribal chief in Central Sinai, said that Sinai Bedouin chiefs warned military leadership about militancy in Sinai before an attack on security forces left at least 16 dead and seven injured.

“Sinai chiefs warned against the precarious security situation in Sinai months ago after extremist groups spread there,” he said in an interview published on Tuesday in the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Gohama said that Sinai chiefs “warned Armed Forces leadership more than four months ago about the dangers of the spread of extremist groups in Sinai and told authorities that the situation is critical.”

He added that two soldiers were killed one week before Ramadan for no clear reason.

Gohama said President Mohamed Morsy’s decision to open road crossings in Sinai to Palestinians and to relax security measures at the border has  contributed to the spread of those groups on the peninsula and has facilitated their travel between Gaza and Sinai.

He said extremist groups come from Gaza and the North Sinai city of Arish, and added that their numbers have increased since the 25 January revolution.

Gohama said that it is not clear how those groups get funding.

Gohama said there are advanced weapons in Sinai that come from Libya, Sudan and Palestine.

“If we sympathize with the innocent blockaded Palestinians in Gaza, that does not mean that the doors should be left open for extremist groups that threaten Egyptian national security.”

Sinai tribes are coordinating efforts with security to clamp down on extremist elements, he said, adding that he expects the armed forces to increase their presence there regardless of stipulations in the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel.

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