CAIRO – 27 November 2017: Shortly after announcing that the terrorist attack killed 305 innocent civilians in Arish city, North Sinai on Friday, November 24, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave a televised speech saying that the state’s response to this assault will be with “brute force”; a phrase that drew attention, especially as it has not been used before in any previous formal speech by the Egyptian president.
Those analyzing the phrase had two different reactions. Some people considered it as another word that affirms the government’s serious stance on countering terrorism, while others on social media and media outlets criticized the description, supporting their view with the meaning of “brute” in Arabic dictionaries.
However in statements to al-Hayat television channel late on Saturday, presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi said that Sisi’s intent during his speech was clear and doesn’t need any further justifications or explanations. He stated, “The situation doesn’t tolerate any other interpretation from what was meant and heard.”
He added that “brute” means the “honorable power that has no mercy over attackers and terrorists.” “Quick retribution – that was the name of the military operations launched shortly after the terrorist attack in Arish, and I think that we are making successes there,” Radi added.
The spokesperson further explained that the terrorist’s choice to target civilians indicates how they are currently cornered and are no longer able to target the police and armed forces. “Targeting civilians while praying is nothing but despair,” he added.
Several experts also added in statements to media outlets that the word was meant to give direct message to the terrorists involved and that “government will not tolerate and will show no mercy.”
Former Interior Minister Assistant, Major General Magdy Bassiouny explained in statements that by “brute,” Sisi meant the quick and powerful reactions to the terrorist attacks. He added that choosing to storm a mosque full of civilians means nothing but complete bankruptcy of Ideas.
“Sisi was sad, same as every other Egyptian at this moment,” Former Interior Minister Assistant Major General Mohamed Nour al Dien said to al-Shorouk. He added that what Sisi meant is being currently implemented by the security forces; they are targeting the terrorists’ locations and revenging for the civilians.
On Friday, 24 November, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said the response to al-Rawdah mosque attack on Arish will be in “brute force against that small band of extremist terrorist.” He began the TV speech with offering his condolences to the families of the victims, announcing a three-day mourning period for the worshipers killed during the Friday congregational prayer.
The attack aims to spread “doubts about the capabilities” of the state, but it “only enhanced our determination and unity,” Sisi said; promising that "the Armed Forces and the police will avenge our martyrs and restore security and stability in full force in the next period.” He emphasized that the attacks in Sinai reflect Egypt’s efforts against terrorism and that Egypt leads the fight “on its own, and on behalf of the region and the entire world.”
“Everything happening is an attempt to stop our efforts in our fight against terror and an attempt to break our will and measures in ending the terrible criminal scheme that aims to destroy what remains of the region,” Sisi added. Addressing the Egyptian people, Sisi said the fight “you are going through is the most noble and honorable fight of all;” adding that the state is “steadfast and will continue [the fight].”
In several following statements, Army spokesperson Mohamed Samir affirmed that several terrorist elements involved in Arish terrorist attack have been targeted by the Egyptian Air Forces in cooperation with Sinai residents.