CAIRO – A former Egyptian lawmaker who threatened on a popular TV show that Americans would be "slaughtered in their homes" if an attempt is made on the life of the country's military chief recanted on Sunday, saying his comments were misconstrued.
The Jan. 13 comments by Mostafa Bakry, a well-known journalist with close ties to the military, created a buzz on social media this past week but drew no comment from the nation's military-backed government. Bakry based his comments about killing Americans on what he called a conspiracy led by the United States to assassinate military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
"There is a plan, which the security apparatus knows about very well, to assassinate el-Sissi, and it involves both internal and external players," Bakry told Imad Adeeb, host of the talk show "Quietly!" which is aired by the private, pro-military channel CBC. "And at this time, all of Egypt will take up arms against the traitors and criminals all together and they will be slaughtered in their homes."
Though he did not identify his sources, Bakry said he was "100 percent sure" of the plot's existence, saying that a similar plan had been behind the assassination of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto.
"If anything at all happens to el-Sissi, there won't be an American on this earth we will leave in peace, here or abroad," he warned.
On Sunday however, Bakry backtracked after international media reported on his statements.
"I am opposed to any violence, including any violence against US citizens, and I would like to make it clear that we have no enmity with or hostility toward the American people at all," he said in a statement. "The intention of my comments was to highlight Egyptian independence, and our adamant refusal to allow any outside party, be that the US or any other party, to interfere in internal Egyptian affairs."
The statement was distributed by a government official, who did not want the name of his ministry to be published.
Bakry's threat is indicative of the widespread belief promoted by Egyptian media that the U.S. government and President Barack Obama are involved in a conspiracy to destabilize Egypt. It is also in line with the rise of xenophobic feelings that have waxed and waned throughout Egypt's past three years of unrest. Since former president Mohamed Morsi was removed from power in a coup in July, the U.S. government, and Obama have been widely criticized in pro-military media for supporting Morsi and the group from which he hails, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt's military government, however, continues to maintain lukewarm relations with the American government.
On Sunday, a congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California met with interim President Adly Mansour. On Tuesday, Congress approved a spending bill that would restore $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, but only on the condition that the Egyptian government ensures democratic reform.