Egypt Arrests Al-Qa'ida Infiltrators Seeking To Revive Activities There



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Upped Military Presence in Sinai Said 'Clearly in Israel's Security Interest'

GMP20110815746005 Tel Aviv Haaretz.com in English 15 Aug 11

[Report by Tzvi Bar'el and Anshel Pfeffer: "With Israel's Okay, Egypt Beefs Up Military Presence in Sinai Peninsula"]

Egypt moved nearly 2,000 soldiers into Sinai late last week in an operation aimed at bringing the peninsula under control after months marked by near anarchy in the peninsula.

The Egyptian move was coordinated in advance with Israel, since the transfer of troops into Sinai exceeds the limits set by the Camp David peace agreement between the two countries.

The Egyptian forces were brought into Sinai on Friday in an effort to quell Bedouin tribes and Islamists identifying themselves with Al-Qaida who have taken over portions of the northern peninsula and attacked police stations there during the past few weeks.

Since the downfall of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak in February, the Egyptian authorities' hold on Sinai has become increasingly tenuous. The natural gas pipeline connecting Egypt and Israel has been attacked multiple times, and there has been a substantial uptick in arms and other items being smuggled into the Gaza Strip through tunnels along the Philadelphi strip near Rafah.

Israel and the United States reportedly asked the Supreme Military Council, which currently holds power in Egypt, to take action to prevent further attacks on the gas pipeline, and to put down radical Islamist activities in Sinai.



The military reinforcements are said to be part of a military operation, named Operation Eagle, to track down those behind the attacks.

In July, five people were killed when dozens of gunmen tried to storm a police station in el-Arish. The gunmen and hundreds more, reported to be Islamists, were wearing black and carrying black flags reading "There is no God but Allah."

Egypt's military has detained 15 people suspected of involvement in clashes between gunmen and police in northern Sinai, including 10 Palestinians.

Following the attack, flyers were distributed in the peninsula, threatening more attacks on police. The flyers were signed "Al-Qaida in Sinai." According to reports from Egypt, the force brought into Sinai numbers about 2,000 soldiers from the Second Infantry Division, supported by tanks and armored personnel carriers.

The governor of northern Sinai, Abdel Wahad Mabrouk, said that "the security deployment is purely for defensive purposes."

Amos Gilad, director of policy and political-military affairs at the Defense Ministry, traveled to Egypt yesterday for a few hours of discussions with Egyptian officials. Among the subjects on the agenda was the security operation in the Sinai, as well as Palestinian reconciliation talks, and the case of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in Gaza.

The Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt restricts the movement of troops and armored vehicles into Sinai, but a senior Israeli security source explained that permission was granted because it is "clearly in Israel's security interest."

The move marks the second time since Mubarak's fall that Israel agreed to allow its neighbor to reinforce its security presence in the peninsula.

In addition to the attacks on the police station in el-Arish, three powerful Bedouin tribes in the northern peninsula have been active in smuggling activities with nearly no opposition.

Last night, some 1,000 troops and police, reinforced by armored vehicles, arrived at el-Arish. Several weeks ago, following the fourth attack on the gas pipeline, Egypt stepped up security significantly, but the troop movement signals a new stage in Cairo's fight to regain control of the peninsula.

The security operations are due to begin in the coming days, with the aim of sending out a clear message that Egypt considers the security of the gas pipeline as part of its commitment to maintaining the agreement with Israel.

Senior Egyptian officials who gave interviews in recent weeks to the Egyptian media made it clear that Cairo has the right to raise the issue of the price, which many in Egypt feel is too low, but does not intend to cancel the agreement or any agreement that the state has signed with Israel.

The arrival of Egyptian security forces has led dozens of wanted men to flee to the lawless area of Jabal al-Halal, in central Sinai. Security forces have had problems controlling the area in the past, making it a haven for fugitives.

Six years ago, Egypt tried to counter the armed activities of Bedouin and radical groups, with mass arrests, however, this led to friction between the approximately 360,000 Bedouin in Sinai and the authorities.

At the time, the Egyptian authorities claimed that the operations were targeting Al-Qaida, but many Bedouin said that the government was mistreating them and refusing to treat them as equal citizens.

[Description of Source: Tel Aviv Haaretz.com in English -- Website of English-language version of Ha'aretz, left-of-center, independent daily of record; URL: http://www.haaretz.com]

Article: Rising Radicalization of Sinai Bedouin Bound To Endanger Israel's Security

GMP20110815746006 Jerusalem The Jerusalem Post Online in English 15 Aug 11

[Commentary by Alex Joffe, research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community: "The Post-Mubarak Sinai"]

The Sinai Peninsula is known for its stillness. But amid the timeless mountains and endless dunes, the great crossroad between Africa and Asia is more active today, and potentially more explosive, than at any time in its history.

Egypt's "Mexico" Problem, writes Abigail Hauslohner of Time. Governor Mourad Mwafi likens the Egypt-Gaza border to the US-Mexican border, and his security challenges to US terrorism challenges.

"Increasingly Lawless" writes BBC News. "I feel we are going toward a civil war here in Sinai," said one Beduin man.

In July, the natural-gas pipeline across the Sinai from Egypt was blown up for the fifth time this year, causing major disruptions to both the Israeli and Jordanian economies. Unidentified gunmen also attacked a police station in the northern Sinai town of El-Arish, leaving five dead. Egyptian authorities claimed the attackers were waving black flags and carrying copies of the Koran.

This surging unrest has serious implications for Israel, and not just because of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists traveling each year to Sinai in spite of warnings of possible terrorist attacks. The Egyptian authorities and some outside observers periodically attribute the escalating unrest to al-Qaida. Given earlier evidence of Hezbollah squads in Sinai, and the frequent Israeli alerts imploring citizens to return, there is little doubt that the security vacuum is allowing more Islamist groups to operate in the region. A recent video posted by "al-Qaida of the Sinai Peninsula" (most likely Palestinian Salafis opposed to Hamas) demonstrates the power of the al-Qaida name, if nothing else.

One great unknown is how many outsiders from al-Qaida and other Islamist groups have taken up residence in Sinai. But another great unknown is how many Sinai Beduin have joined them.

Forty years ago, Sinai Beduin numbered under 40,000. Today the peninsula is home to between 100,000 and 200,000, along with native Egyptians who have been resettled in the northwest area or who work at the southern resorts, plus tens of thousands of Palestinians in northeast Sinai near Gaza. Thousands of Africans refugees are also crossing the Sinai annually en route to Israel.

Whatever their origins -- most Beduin tribes are relative latecomers to Sinai, having arrived between 300 and 500 years ago from Arabia or to a lesser extent from Egypt --the Beduin typically proclaim loyalty to Egypt (at least when in the presence of Egyptian officials).

Of course, there are also Beduin within Israel, where many identify themselves as Palestinians -- an identity that helps them publicize their many claims against the Israeli government. For the moment, most Sinai Beduin seem to give their loyalty primarily to their particular tribes.

The history here is instructive. After Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in 1982, the region languished until the 1990s, when a series of Islamist attacks at major sites in Egypt proper, like Luxor in the Nile Valley, cut deeply into tourism. In response, Egypt began investing massively in tourist infrastructure, particularly at Sharm el-Sheikh and other Red Sea resorts. Europeans streamed in for scuba diving, casinos and beach life, and the area achieved some significance as the site of international meetings.

Local Beduin benefited from this buildup, primarily as unskilled laborers. But systematic discrimination on the part of Egyptians kept them from filling the ranks of the army, police or civil service as well as jobs in the tourist establishments.

When bombings at Red Sea resorts in 2004 and 2006 killed 130 people, including Egyptians and foreign tourists -- Palestinian Islamists appear to have been responsible -- thousands of Beduin were rounded up. Further drawing Egyptian ire was the willingness of Beduin smugglers to transport weapons to Hamas in Gaza, smuggle drugs to Israel, and engage in human trafficking of African refugees.

In recent years, relations have been poisoned by accusations that Egyptian security officials torture and murder Beduin suspects.

But now the Egyptian security presence has dramatically diminished. One immediate consequence is that arms struggling across Sinai into Gaza, a longstanding problem and an enterprise in which the Beduin have historically played a central role, has intensified. More arms, including heavy weapons and explosives from, allegedly, as far away as Libya have been transported to Gaza. After the pipeline bombing in February, Egypt received permission from Israel to modify the terms of its peace treaty and deploy two additional army battalions in Sinai. But this has contributed little to the region's safety. Recent news that Beduin have been hired to guard the gas pipeline point to another explanation for at least some of the violence: a protection racket.

Looking to their own security, the Beduin are also preparing for confrontations on all sides. To what extent are they also being radicalized by the forces of global jihad, and attaching themselves to the Islamists? That is still unknown. What is all too clear is that the sudden withdrawal of Egyptian security has permitted Sinai Beduin to return openly to the raiding, smuggling, kidnapping, protection rackets and feuding that are their historic avocation, only temporarily suppressed by the Ottoman Turks, the British, the Israelis and the Egyptians.

Even if they are not becoming radicalized, Sinai Beduin have long been willing to sell their services to Islamists, who are now ascendant throughout the post-Arab spring world. If the teetering Egyptian economy collapses further and more Egyptians are pushed toward Islamism, the tide will carry along more Sinai Beduin as well. This year, Israel announced that it would build a fence along the entire 160-mile border between the Negev and the Sinai.

But fence or no fence, that rising southern tide is bound to imperil the security of the Jewish state.

[Description of Source: Jerusalem The Jerusalem Post Online in English -- Website of right-of-center, independent daily; URL: http://www.jpost.co.il]

North Sinai governor denies presence of Al-Qaeda in governorate

GMP20110531966081 Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English 1158 GMT 31 May 11

[Collected by webscraper and Auto selected and released without editorial intervention.]

PAGE: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/457337

TITLE: North Sinai governor denies presence of Al-Qaeda in governorate

SECTION: Top Stories

AUTHOR:


PUBDATE: Mon, 30/05/2011 - 14:27

(AL-MASRY AL-YOUM) -

North Sinai Governor Abdel Wahab Mabrouk on Monday denied reports that security services are surveying over 400 individuals who allegedly belong to Al-Qaeda.

The governor told reporters that these are rumors, and Al-Qaeda presence in North Sinai is unlikely because the region is tightly controlled.

Egyptian satellite TV channel Al-Hayah had quoted security sources as saying that a group of Bedouins, Palestinians and different Arab nationals affiliated with Al-Qaeda were planning terrorist acts in Egypt.

The sources told Al-Hayah that security is keeping the alleged members under surveillance and preventing them from carrying out their plans until arrests are made.

But Mabrouk said no security officials had made any such statements.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English -- English language version of Al-Misri al-Yawm, Egypt's respected independent pro-reform daily that focuses on domestic political issues; largest-circulation independent publication, especially widely read among youth; URL: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en]

National security studies possibility of Al-Qaeda attacks in Egypt

GMP20110605966106 Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English 1546 GMT 05 Jun 11

[Collected by webscraper and Auto selected and released without editorial intervention.]

PAGE: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/462439

TITLE: National security studies possibility of Al-Qaeda attacks in Egypt

SECTION: Top Stories

AUTHOR:


PUBDATE: Fri, 03/06/2011 - 15:10

(AL-MASRY AL-YOUM) -

General Hamid Abdallah, head of the Egyptian National Security Agency, said that Cairo is studying the possibility that Al-Qaeda would execute an attack in Egypt given the country's recently lax security.

In a statement to the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abdallah said that the Egyptian National Security Agency began its counter-terrorism and intelligence activities inside and outside of Egypt by looking into the new internal structure of Al-Qaeda after the recent death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of American forces in Pakistan. The agency is also considering the possibility Al-Qaeda will plan and execute terrorist operations in Egypt given the security vacuum that resulted from recent unrest.

Abdallah added that Egypt continues to cooperate with other Arab countries to combat terrorism and organized crime.

Abdallah denied the presence of Al-Qaeda elements in the Sinai Peninsula or any other region in Egypt. He described recent reports regarding the infiltration of 400 Al-Qaeda members with Asian and Arab nationalities as “media tampering.” Abdallah made it clear that the agency recently tightened its hold on all of the country’s legal entry points that terrorists might use to enter Egypt under pseudonyms.

Abdallah stressed that the country’s illegal entry points, namely from the Eastern border through the Sinai Peninsula, are handled in cooperation with the military intelligence and the National Security Agency. The Egyptian National Security Agency only provides information to both of these agencies as it does not yet have an office in Sinai because of deteriorating security conditions there.

[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English -- English language version of Al-Misri al-Yawm, Egypt's respected independent pro-reform daily that focuses on domestic political issues; largest-circulation independent publication, especially widely read among youth; URL: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en]

Egypt: Army Tanks Deploy in North Sinai 'For First Time Since Israeli Peace Treaty'

GMP20110815839001 Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English 1405 GMT 14 Aug 11

[Report by Salah ElBoluk, translated from Al-Misri al-Yawm in Arabic: "Army tanks in N. Sinai for first time since Israeli peace treaty."]

For the first time since the signing of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1979, the Egyptian armed forces deployed army tanks around the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah over the weekend.

The deployment was part of a broader armed forces initiative announced last week, aimed at re-establishing central government control over the Governorate of North Sinai, which has seen a spike in insurgent and criminal activities since the January uprising in Egypt. Under the initiative, military and police forces, including two brigades of special forces, were deployed to the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah for the first time since the 25 January uprising.

The sight of army tanks on the streets of the border town of Rafah was a new one to many local residents. Under the provisions of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979, the area near the border (known as Area C) is demilitarized, and weaponry and military equipment are prohibited.

An official source said that Israeli authorities agreed to the entry of Egyptian armed forces to Rafah for a specific period in order to restore security in the border area.

Yahya Abu Nasira, a political activist and Rafah town resident said, "The most significant thing in this operation is the arrival of Egyptian troops to Area C. This brings great joy to all Sinai residents."

Major General Ahmed Gamal al-Din, assistant minister of interior for public security, said security would be imposed by force in Sinai if necessary.

During his meeting with Sinai tribal chiefs at the North Sinai Security Department on Saturday evening, Gamal al-Din warned that foreign agents were tampering with Sinai's security and attempting to drag it into a civil war.

Gamal al-Din called on the tribal chiefs to cooperate with the police to ensure the success of the operation against what he described as "outlaws".

The general went on to say that the Interior Ministry would clamp down on anyone tampering with Sinai's security, saying: "I warn anyone thinking of putting my officers' lives at risk; they will have no one to blame but themselves."

He went on to say that the attack on Arish police station on 29 July was not the work of Salafis. "Other non-Salfi elements were involved. We know them by name, identified them and we will arrest them," he said.

He also denied the existence of any alleged al-Qaeda groups in Sinai.

Translated from the Arabic Edition [as published]

[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English -- English language version of Al-Misri al-Yawm, respected independent pro-reform daily; largest-circulation independent publication; URL: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en]

Egypt: Army Deploys Tanks in North Sinai

FEA20110815020918 - OSC Feature - Al-Masry Al-Youm Online 1405 GMT 14 Aug 11

Egypt deployed tanks in the North Sinai over the weekend 12-13 August. The deployment was part of a broader armed forces initiative aimed at reestablishing government control over the North Sinai, which has seen a spike in insurgent and criminal activities since the revolution.

Under the provisions of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 the area is demilitarized. An official source said that Israeli authorities agreed to the entry of Egyptian armed forces to the border town of Rafah for a specific period in order to restore security.

Meeting with Sinai tribal chiefs at the North Sinai Security Department on 13 August, Assistant Minister of Interior for Public Security Major General Jamal al-Din said that foreign agents were tampering with Sinai's security and attempting to drag it into a civil war. He also denied the existence of Al-Qa'ida groups in the area.

Tribal leaders reportedly issued a statement to show their solidarity with the army, saying: "We, the tribal chiefs, families and youths of Sinai declare that we, the armed forces and the police are in one trench against all law breakers."

An article from Al-Masry Al-Youm follows below.

Report by Salah ElBoluk, translated from Al-Misri al-Yawm in Arabic: "Army tanks in N. Sinai for first time since Israeli peace treaty."

For the first time since the signing of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1979, the Egyptian armed forces deployed army tanks around the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah over the weekend.

The deployment was part of a broader armed forces initiative announced last week, aimed at re-establishing central government control over the Governorate of North Sinai, which has seen a spike in insurgent and criminal activities since the January uprising in Egypt. Under the initiative, military and police forces, including two brigades of special forces, were deployed to the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwaid and Rafah for the first time since the 25 January uprising.

The sight of army tanks on the streets of the border town of Rafah was a new one to many local residents. Under the provisions of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979, the area near the border (known as Area C) is demilitarized, and weaponry and military equipment are prohibited.

An official source said that Israeli authorities agreed to the entry of Egyptian armed forces to Rafah for a specific period in order to restore security in the border area.

Yahya Abu Nasira, a political activist and Rafah town resident said, "The most significant thing in this operation is the arrival of Egyptian troops to Area C. This brings great joy to all Sinai residents."

Major General Ahmed Gamal al-Din, assistant minister of interior for public security, said security would be imposed by force in Sinai if necessary.

During his meeting with Sinai tribal chiefs at the North Sinai Security Department on Saturday evening, Gamal al-Din warned that foreign agents were tampering with Sinai's security and attempting to drag it into a civil war.

Gamal al-Din called on the tribal chiefs to cooperate with the police to ensure the success of the operation against what he described as "outlaws".

The general went on to say that the Interior Ministry would clamp down on anyone tampering with Sinai's security, saying: "I warn anyone thinking of putting my officers' lives at risk; they will have no one to blame but themselves."

He went on to say that the attack on Arish police station on 29 July was not the work of Salafis. "Other non-Salfi elements were involved. We know them by name, identified them and we will arrest them," he said.

He also denied the existence of any alleged al-Qaeda groups in Sinai.

Translated from the Arabic Edition [as published]

[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Masry Al-Youm Online in English -- English language version of Al-Misri al-Yawm, respected independent pro-reform daily; largest-circulation independent publication; URL: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en]

Officials: Egypt to target al Qaeda cells said to be training in Sinai

(CNN) -- Egyptian military and intelligence officials say they are preparing to launch an operation against al Qaeda cells that have recently been established in the restive Sinai peninsula.

While Egypt has seen a number of homegrown militant Islamist groups emerge and dissipate over the past 20 years, none has had clear organizational links with al Qaeda.

But senior officials told CNN that al Qaeda cells have now surfaced in northern Sinai, which has seen acts of sabotage and clashes between rival Salafist groups this year. Among the incidents, a gas pipeline to Israel was blown up several times.

The focus of their concern is the coastal area between el-Arish, a resort town of about 80,000 people on the Mediterranean, and Rafah on the border with Gaza.

"Al Qaeda is present in Sinai mainly in the area of Sakaska close to Rafah," a general in Egypt's intelligence service told CNN Thursday. "They have been training there for month, but we have not identified their nationalities yet."

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