On October 28, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi initiated a shake-up of top security chiefs in the aftermath of a militant ambush on security forces on October 20. According to Egyptian state media, General Mahmoud Tawfiq replaced General Mahmoud Shaarawy as head of the National Security Agency; Tawfiq was reassigned to handle port security. Lieutenant General Mohamed Farid Hegazi was appointed to replace Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mahmoud Ibrahim Hegazi, who will now serve as presidential adviser for strategic planning and crisis management. Also among the dismissed officials were the head of the Central Security Forces (CSF)’s Special Operations Unit, the NSA head for the Giza governorate, several generals, and other senior leaders tied to the area in which the ambush took place.
Security sources told Egyptian media that the Inspection and Censorship Sector oversight body within the Interior Ministry launched an investigation into the October 20 ambush. Several current and former members of the Egyptian security forces insist that the attack was not due to security shortcomings but due to the nature of security concerns facing Egypt at present. “What happened is that the officers were impulsive in their effort to thwart the terrorists, which is what happened. But to discuss shortcomings? No, there weren’t any. These officers didn’t take part in the operation to die. They were just impulsive,” said one official.
More information has recently emerged concerning the October 20 attack. According to anonymous officials, Egyptian security forces began to take fire after mobilizing to confront a militant hideout based on intelligence received by the Egyptian government. One official suggested that aerial reconnaissance missions conducted in the week before the attempted raid may have inadvertently alerted militant elements to the impending raid. No group has yet claimed responsibility, and discrepancies still exist between official government reports on the number of casualties and those reported by other sources.
Photo Credit: Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar – Mada