Sinai ‘nest of terrorists’ - Israeli military source
EGYPT: If Egypt fails to restore order in the Sinai peninsula it
could come to resemble the Afghan mountain hideouts which sheltered the
Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies, an Israeli military source warned on
Briefing foreign journalists at the site of an August 5 attack, where
still-unidentified attackers burst through a border crossing into Israel
after killing 16 Egyptian guards in the adjacent Sinai, he said that
“thousands” of militants were holed up in the remote region where local
Bedouin help them.
“There are nests of terrorists there, big nests,” he said in Hebrew,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Since the revolution in Egypt, since the fall of (President Hosni)
Mubarak, there has been a significant deterioration,” he said.
“Sinai has turned into an area which is out of control,” he said.
“The Bedouins who control the area... they make money from smuggling and
helping terrorists.” Global jihad groups, he added, are looking for
areas where there is a vacuum of central authority.
“Like in Afghanistan and elsewhere, they look for the absence of
government, that way they can survive,” he said. “If the Egyptians don’t
take things in hand now, that’s what they’ll get, them and us.”
The Egyptian military has massed troops in the Sinai and pledged to
restore order to the remote, and often inaccessible area, since the
cross-border raid in which the attackers used an Egyptian armoured
vehicle to take them across the frontier before they were halted by
Israeli helicopter and tank fire.
The Israeli source said that the Bedouin did not share the religious
and political commitment of the militants to whom they sell their
“They don’t have the ideology to blow themselves up,” he said. “They
don’t care if they kill Egyptians or Jews, what they care about is how
much money goes into their Swiss bank account.” “The terrorists pay a
lot of money, they don’t know the territory, they don’t know how to
reach a certain spot without guides.”
“The same people who are smuggling drugs are the same guides who get
the terrorists through, but instead of getting 100,000 dollars (for an
assignment) they get half a million dollars.”
An Egyptian court sentenced 14 Islamists to death on Tuesday for the
2011 murder of seven people at a bank and a police post in the Sinai
Peninsula, scene of mounting violence near the border with Israel.
The court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya convicted the 14 of
carrying out the attacks in June and July last year on behalf of the
hardline group Tawhid wal Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War).
In a surprise move, Morsi last Sunday retired Defence Minister Field
Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 76, and armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan
and scrapped a constitutional document that gave the military
legislative and other powers. AFP