'Terrorists in Sinai plan to kidnap visiting Israelis'

Concrete intelligence indicates Hamas, other terror groups trying to abduct Israelis as bargaining chips in potential prisoner swaps.

By
April 7, 2011 18:13
1 minute read.
Sinai Resort

Sinai311. (photo credit: Steve Linde)

 
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A number of terrorist cells operating in Sinai plan to kidnap visiting Israelis, security officials warned on Thursday ahead of Pessah.

The warning, they said, was based on concrete intelligence information indicating that Hamas and other terrorist groups were trying to abduct Israelis, transfer them to the Gaza Strip and use them as bargaining chips in potential prisoner swaps.

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“Ammunition depots in Libya and Yemen have been broken into, and this weaponry could make it into the hands of terrorist organizations,” one senior security official said. “The instability in the region helps terrorist groups.”

Israel, the official said, was particularly concerned by the situation in Sinai, where the Egyptian police and military were having difficulty restoring law and order following the recent revolution.

Last week, the Israel Air Force bombed a car in the southern Gaza Strip carrying a number of senior Hamas operatives who were planning attacks of this kind.

According to the official, though, there are already terrorists in Sinai planning to carry out the attacks, and they likely now have greater motivation now that some of their cell members were killed by Israel.

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The official said that Egyptian authorities were working to restore control over Sinai but that it was “low on their agenda” due to the country-wide instability.

About 150 Israelis cross into Sinai each week, most of them Arabs who vacation in Sharm e-Sheikh, the official said. “Israeli-Arabs think they are immune but they are not and could also be targeted in a future attack,” he said.

The official also warned of a growing phenomenon of Israelis of Iraqi descent traveling to Iraq on “heritage tours.”

The official said that it is illegal for Israelis to visit Iraq and that the Counter-Terrorism Bureau was coordinating with police and the Foreign Ministry to bring charges against Israelis who take those trips.

In addition, he said, that there was a constant threat of kidnappings within Israel by terrorist organizations based in the West Bank.

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