Several Egyptian businessmen were asked for EGP 2 million to support the pro-Sisi demonstrations in return for guarantees they would secure contract jobs, reports Egypt Watch in an exclusive report.
Hesham Salem, a prominent businessman, told the London-based website using a pseudonym that general intelligence officers requested a meeting with him, then asked him for the money with the promise that he would get the contracts if he delivered the cash.
Two further contractors and businessmen also told Egypt Watch that they had been offered work from the army and the intelligence in exchange for a large sum of money, a tactic used both in the 2019 and 2020 protests.
On 20 September, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against the ruling regime after soaring living costs, economic austerity and a house demolition campaign have left thousands unable to make ends meet.
In response, the general intelligence has organised their own counter demonstrations.
Security forces called on the heads of political parties and MPs to gather supporters. The Nation's Future Party, which backs the president, rented buses to bring them to the capital. They were offered free meals in exchange for their support.
According to the businessman Hesham Salem, during his meeting with general intelligence, the officer named the well-known gangster Sabry Nakhnokh as the person who will receive the money.
Nakhnokh was key in gathering beltagayya during the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000 and in 2005 from his network which includes thousands of thugs across the country.
A common tactic used by the Egyptian government is to hire thugs to break up protests and discourage people from demonstrating.
Nakhnokh was close to former Interior Minister Habb Al-Adly and gathered together beltagayya for the battle of the camel during the uprising against the late Mubarak when men riding horses and camels charged at the pro-democracy protesters.
After being arrested in August 2012 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for weapons possession and drugs, he was released under a presidential pardon issued by Sisi in May 2018.
According to Egypt Watch, millions were paid to the Presidential Pardon Committee to secure his release.
Regarding the recent demonstrations, Nakhnokh wrote on Mohamed Ali's Facebook page, "I know how to deal with you, you traitor."