Egypt Pipeline Explosion 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt is preparing a military operation to root out al- Qaida cells that have
been established in the past several months in the Sinai peninsula, CNN reported
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Senior Egyptian officials told CNN that they were focusing
their operation in the coastal area between El- Arish and Rafah on the border
with the Gaza Strip.
“Al-Qaida is present in Sinai mainly in the area of
Sakaska close to Rafah,” a general in Egypt’s intelligence services was quoted
as saying on Thursday. “They have been training there for months, but we have
not identified their nationalities yet.”
“We plan to clean out those
criminal pockets around the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid,” said Gaber
al-Araby, secretary-general for the North Sinai governorate.
that transports natural gas to Israel has been sabotaged five times this
Egyptian security sources told the state-run Al-Ahram
month that the pipeline blasts – and attacks on security forces in northern
Sinai that killed five officers last month – were the work of al-Qaida-inspired
A Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) report released in May warned
that lawlessness in Sinai following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February had
created a situation in which smugglers of arms into the Gaza Strip were
operating almost freely.
“Today the Egyptian regime’s attention is
focused on stabilizing the new government, and this eases the Sinai smugglers’
task,” the report said.
The Beduin of the Sinai, for whom smuggling is a
major source of income, were mostly involved in getting weapons into Gaza to
supply Hamas and other smaller terrorist groups, it said.
The report also
said that Iran, in seeking to strengthen its influence in the region, was
supplying Hamas and Islamic Jihad with “choice military-grade weaponry.”