US counterterrorism czar visits Sinai

Tour focuses on Egyptian efforts to crack down on local terror.

henry crumpton298 88 DOS (photo credit: US State Department)
henry crumpton298 88 DOS
(photo credit: US State Department)
The top US diplomat for international counterterrorism coordination paid a surprise visit Saturday to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula apparently to view security efforts in a region that saw large bomb attacks on tourist resorts in past years. Henry A. Crumpton arrived Saturday in north Sinai, where Egyptian security forces have launched massive sweeps through in recent months searching for terrorists. The sweeps were launched in the wake of attacks on three Sinai resorts that killed a total of 97 people - an October 2004 attack in Taba and Ras Shitan, then a triple-bombing in July in Sharm el-Sheik. Israel has been plagued by weapons smugglers which has complained of weapons smuggling to the Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian security official said Crumpton, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the US State Department, came to see the situation on the ground in Sinai. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The US Embassy in Cairo confirmed Crumpton's visit but would provide no details. Egyptian security forces have focused on Halal mountain, an 5,900-foot peak that is full of caves and deep ravines and near the Israeli border. Last week Israeli newspapers quoted Israeli top security officers as saying that al-Qaida terror group might have established bases in the Jabal Al Halal area in northern Sinai. Egypt has repeatedly denied any presence for al-Qaida in Egypt. Crumpton heads the office that coordinates all US government efforts to improve counterterrorism cooperation with foreign governments.