Egypt says leaked video allegedly showing extrajudicial killings in Sinai is ‘fake’

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that the leaked video footage, which is claimed to be from a military operation in North Sinai shows individuals wearing Egyptian Armed Forces uniforms executing unarmed men, is "fake".

The video was authenticated by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International last month.

“A fair review and scrutiny of this twisted documentary, the attitudes of the men featured in the film, how they are dressed would lead anyone to easily note how fake it is,” Ahmed Abu Zeid, the spokesperson for Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a blog post on Sunday.

Abu Zeid’s statements are Egypt’s first official comments on the video footage – that was initially broadcasted by the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Mekameleen channel – and the organizations’ reports.

The video footage, which went viral last month and sparked allegations regarding Egypt’s human rights violations, shows a bearded man speaking in a local Sinai accent executing at least two civilians. According to HRW’s local sources, the man is identified as a military collaborator interrogating another dressed in civilian clothes.  

As the video proceeds, men in Egyptian military uniforms lead blindfolded men, force them to kneel down and then execute them by firing several bullets. A man was heard commanding those carrying out the execution to not aim solely at the men’s heads. After the executions were completed, the men seen in military uniforms were seen to be planting weapons next to the bodies of the deceased.

Regarding their appearance, Abu Zeid said in his blog post: “But it seems that [The Guardian] editor is not aware that it is against the long-held tradition of the Egyptian army to have bearded men in uniform.” 

Amnesty International and HRW have both cited local sources who located where the video was shot as a desert area between the south of Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah — areas of concentrated fighting between militants and Egyptian forces.

“Egyptian military forces in the northern Sinai Peninsula executed at least two and as many as eight unarmed detainees and covered up the killings to make it appear that the victims were armed ‘terrorists’ shot to death in a raid,” HRW stated in its report.

Both organizations, HRW and Amnesty, referred to a report published by the local Sinai 24 Facebook page, which claimed that the two men executed in the video are brothers who belong to the Romaylat Tribe: 16-year-old Dawood Sabry al-Awabda and 19-year-old Abdelhady Sabry al-Awabda.

According to Sinai 24, the Awabda brothers disappeared after the military arrested them in Rafah on July 18, 2016.

In its report published on April 21, Amnesty International’s experts claimed that the video was authentic after interviewing Sinai-based sources and experts, analyzing the leaked video and comparing it with photos and a YouTube video published by the Egyptian military spokesperson in December that claimed to show “terrorists” killed in a security raid.

Egypt, however, believes that while it is regaining its natural role among world's countries and building a democratic state that embodies values of modernity and enlightenment, numerous western media outlets continue to paint a gloomy picture of Egypt.

In the blog post titled “Egypt…retelling the untold story”, Abu Zeid says western media's coverage of Egypt's internal affairs depends on depicting conditions in Egypt as "deteriorating", while ignoring any positive efforts or achievements present on the ground

“Of course, there is no need to report on a documentary that might stir unwanted sympathies towards the Egyptian army, nor to highlight incitement to and glorification of terrorism,” the spokesperson said, referring to another documentary that was broadcast on Al-Jazeera last month showing Egyptian army officers on duty shot by snipers.”

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