Retaliation by force of arms is rarely associated with Valentine’s Day.
Among the Facebook posts with hearts, cuddly toys and red roses was the trailer to Al-Sirb (The Squadron), a based-on-true-events film of Egypt’s reaction to an act of terrorism.
On 15 February 2015, a five-minute video was published, showing the beheading of 20 Egyptian captives on a beach in Libya.
The victims, all dressed in orange jumpsuits as in many previous ISIS videos, sat quietly and courageously before their brutal murder was captured on film.
The camouflage drill-clad leader of the group that carried out the executions addresses viewers saying, “Oh crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes especially when you’re fighting us all together…”
In Egypt, the video sent shockwaves across the nation that was already battling Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State-led terrorism inside its borders.
However, minutes after the video was aired, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi ordered the National Defence Council to meet and discuss an appropriate response to the executions.
On the following day, Egyptians woke up to the news that the president had ordered the air force to bomb ISIS camps in Derna, Libya’s northeastern, known to be the terrorist organisation’s stronghold.
The rest is history, as they say, but the events are enacted in Al-Sirb with a star-studded cast, including Sherif Muneer and Asser Yassin.
“This is our gift to the martyrs.”
Such was one Facebook comment on the trailer posted by Tamer Morsi, chairman of Synergy, the local production company behind the film.
“Egypt’s president vowed to retaliate and he honoured his pledge,” Morsi said.
Al-Sirb is Synergy’s second major production on the sacrifices to keep the country safe.
Al-Sirb gives insights into the work of Egypt’s security establishment, the army and the intelligence following the killings.
Among Synergy’s credits is the television serial Al-Ikhtiyar (The Choice), which focuses on the exploits of army officer Ahmed el-Mansi, who was an icon in the war against Islamic State in Sinai.
This hugely popular series earned high ratings in Egypt and the Middle East during the Islamic month of Ramadan last year.
Together with other drama works of a patriotic nature produced in recent years, the serial rekindled interest in works that throw light on the heroism of Egyptians on the frontline in the fight against terrorism.
Al-Sirb promises to do the same as well, cinema critics say, because the film “handles a just cause, namely the fight against terrorism,” renowned cinema critic Tarek el-Shenawi said.