Egypt's minister of religious endowments on Friday said recent militant attacks in Egypt are part of a plot by "imperialist powers to spread chaos in Egypt," and added that Egypt's army will defeat transregional militant group Islamic State – which he believes are part of the plot.
In a conference on Friday, the minister, Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, accused the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of attempting to carry out a plan to divide Egypt and destroy its army.
Militant attacks against Egypt's army sharply spiked after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, in mid-2013.
The latest major attack in January saw at least 30 killed in Sinai and over 100 injured.
Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in response to the January attacks the assailants were receiving foreign assistance, but did not mention specifics.
Egypt’s relations with Qatar and Turkey, both backers of former president Mohamed Morsi, have been tense since the 2013 ouster of Morsi.
Gomaa claimed that IS and other extremist groups are fighting a "proxy war for the Zionist entity and imperialists” and that “IS is being used to divide the Arab region into smaller territories for the interests of the Zionist enemy who wants to dominate it."
"We are all stand unified to support the Egyptian army in its fight against all of these groups, and are completely loyal to the nation and the army as an integral part of that nation," he added.
Evoking a foreign plot against Egypt is not a new occurrence. At the outset of the Egyptian revolution, Egypt's official TV maintained that a foreign plot was underway to spread chaos, just days before it joyously declared the revolution's victory against ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Other official religious figures, such as Al-Azhar's grand Imam, have made similar statements to Gomaa's since Morsi's ouster.