Egypt Fires Intelligence Chief Over Sinai Attack
Egypt’s president fired his intelligence chief on Wednesday for failing to act on an Israeli warning of an imminent attack days before militants stormed a border post in the Sinai Peninsula and killed 16 soldiers.
The dismissal, which followed Egyptian airstrikes against Sinai militants, also marked a bold attempt by the Islamist leader to deflect popular anger over the attack. It pointed to a surprising level of cooperation with the powerful military leaders who stripped the presidency of significant powers just before President Mohammed Morsi took office June 30.
In a major shake-up, Morsi also asked Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the commander of the military police, a force that has been heavily used to combat street protests since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak 18 months ago. Rights activists have accused the military police of brutality against protesters.
Morsi also fired the commander of his presidential guards and ordered new chiefs for security in Cairo and the police’s central security, a large, paramilitary force often deployed to deal with riots.
The decisions were announced hours after Egyptian attack helicopters fired missiles at militants in Sinai as part of what the military said was the start of an offensive, to “restore stability and regain control” over the desert territory bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip. The use of air power marked a sharp escalation in Egypt’s fight against the militants, who have become increasingly active in the mountainous terrain since last year’s uprising.