Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ongoing: The Battle of Sinai

Packed with information from Egyptian and Israelis sources, this WaPo story on the hunt for the terrorists behind the Sharm El-Sheikh attack is worth reading. The official line is still that the perpetrators were a combination of ‘lawless Bedouin gangs’ and ‘Muslim rebels.’ If so, the bombings represent a dangerous return of political violence aimed at civilians.

Officials say the investigation is not suggesting any foreign connections, such as training in Afghanistan or Pakistan, outside financing or recruiting by Muslim networks in Europe. When it comes to Bin-Laden, the wording in this article is “no direct ties.”

Yet the bombings, which together killed more than 100 Egyptians and foreigners, shared key characteristics of al Qaeda actions. They hit high-profile targets that are important to the economy. The dates of the attacks contained political symbolism -- the bombings in Taba occurred on Oct. 6, the anniversary of Egypt's 1973 war with Israel, while those in Sharm el-Sheikh came on July 23, the date the Egyptian monarchy was overthrown by Gamal Abdel Nasser 53 years ago. The bombers were able to hatch plans freely in north and central Sinai, a remote and largely ignored section of the country.

In Israel, senior military intelligence officials say the attacks might have been planned or assisted by foreign organizations, such as Al-Qaeda. They point to the complexity of each operation, involving multiple, almost simultaneous explosions. Working with Egyptian officials on the investigations, the Israeli senior military intelligence officer says we are dealing with two cells working within the same “terrorist infrastructure.” The Sharm El-Sheik bombers learned from mistakes made at the attack in Taaba last year. For example: Chassis numbers on the cars used in Sharm el-Sheikh were removed; such numbers were used to trace the owner of the truck involved in the Taba Hilton bombing, leading to a number of arrests.

The Interior Ministry says the bombers are influenced by Salafism, a militant, fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam that is related to the Wahhabi Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia.

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