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Egypt & Saudi Arabia

Here is a chronology of some of the most significant incidents of violence in Egypt involving foreign tourists:

21 October 1992: Fighters ambush a tourist bus, killing a British woman and wounding two British men. The woman is the first foreigner to die in fighter-related violence.

26 February 1993: Bomb in crowded coffee shop in central Cairo kills a Turk, a Swede and an Egyptian and wounds 20.

8 June 1993: Bomb explodes near tour bus on Pyramids Road in Cairo, killing two Egyptians and wounding 22 people, including five British people.

27 October 1993: A man described as a mentally disturbed musician shoots dead two American businessmen, a French jurist and an Italian at a luxury Cairo hotel.

4 March 1994: Armed men fire at a Nile cruiser in southern Egypt, wounding a German woman tourist, who died after being flown back to Germany.

26 August 1994: Armed men kill a Spanish boy in an attack on a tourist bus in southern Egypt.

27 September 1994: Armed men shoot and kill one German tourist and wound another in a gun attack in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. Two Egyptians were also killed and another German man died of his wounds after returning to Germany.

23 October 1994: Suspected Muslim fighters kill a British tourist and wound three in a minibus attack.

18 April 1996: Islamic fighters shoot and kill 18 Greek tourists they mistook for Israelis near the Pyramids.

18 September 1997: Armed men kill nine German tourists and their Egyptian bus driver in a shooting and firebomb attack outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

17 November 1997: Attackers kill 58 tourists and four Egyptians at an ancient temple near the southern tourist town of Luxor. Six armed men and three police also die in the violence.

7 October 2004: A series of bombings at the Taba Hilton hotel on Egypt's border with Israel, and two beaches further south, kill 34 people.

7 April 2005: A bomb attack in a bazaar in medieval Cairo kills an American man, a French man and woman and the suspected bomber.

30 April 2005: A bomber wounds seven people including four foreigners - two Israelis, an Italian and a Swede - near the Egyptian museum.

23 July 2005:- Car bombs hit Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, killing at least 62 and wounding about 200, including many foreigners, and devastating an upmarket hotel.

the different political streams in Egypt:

Nasserites: They are the remnants of the Gamal Abdul Nasser era. They are socialist Arab nationalist who worship Nasser right after God (some place him before the deity). They ruled Egypt from 1952 until Nasser's death in 1970. They turned against Nasser's successor Sadat because he altered many of Nasser's policies. Today they remained opposed to the government. They are ferociously anti-America.

The secular Nasserites are constantly loosing appeal and so they joined forces many times with those who took their place: the Islamists. This is a very awkward marriage because Nasser literally wiped the Muslim Brotherhood from Egyptian history during his tenure. He arrested, tortured, and executed scores of Islamists when he was alive. Today Nasserites and Islamists are united by their opposition to the government and anti-Americanism.

Islamists: They are very well organized and financed. I am not sure however about the amount of support they have from the Egyptian public. They try to convince Egyptians that they are the answer to their problems after the failure of Nasser's socialism and Sadat's capitalism. Their slogan is "Islam is the answer." (Does Iran's Khomeini ring a bell?)

Sometimes I believe that Egypt needs 21 years of Muslim Brotherhood rule! Like their Iranian counterparts, the next Egyptian generation will see how those Islamists are just as corrupt as any politician is and they tend to use religion for their political purposes. Islamists are the government's main enemy. They are the number one opposition entity. I'd rather have 1000 years of Mubarak rule than 1 day of living under the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been saying lately that they accept western style democracy and want to enter the political stream as any political entity. I am personally very skeptical for two reasons. First, never trust an Islamist, never. Second, the Muslims Brotherhood itself is undemocratic. They don't have elections within their party and their "spiritual leader" remains until he dies. Currently there is a power struggle between the "old guard" and the new generation of Muslims Brotherhood members. Ummmm, that doesn't look democratic to me.

Liberals: I'd rather call them progressives. They are the weakest among them all. Egypt had a tremendous community of progressives before the 1952 revolution. However, they picked up some voice after September 11. There are two types of progressives: those who demand 100% secularism and those who might be willing to accept the participation of Islamists in the political system as long as they adhere to democracy. - bigpharaoh.blogspot


Blair criticised over Egypt holiday

Tony and Cherie visited the pyramids at Giza

Prime Minister Tony Blair's post Christmas winter break in Egypt was paid for by local taxpayers, he has disclosed to a parliamentary watchdog. Mr Blair says he and his family spent six days at private government villas at a hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

In the latest edition of the register of MPs' interests, he describes himself "as a guest of the Egyptian government" and reveals that the return flights were paid for by President Hosni Mubarak's government.

But Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said the move could leave the prime minister open to suggestions it had influenced his attitude to the Middle East conflict, according to the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.


Mr Blair insists that he made a donation to a charity chosen by the Egyptian government equivalent to the cost of his trip. But Mr Baker claims his acceptance of the hospitality has "cheapened" the office of premier. "It is quite inappropriate," he told the papers. "The fact he accepted hospitality may be above board but some people may feel it will have an impact on his approach to the Middle East. "The prime minister is paid enough not to have to accept hospitality. It cheapens the office.

Charity donations

"It would have been better if he had refused the offer and paid his own way rather than having allowed this convoluted arrangement."

Mr Blair, his wife Cherie and their four children, left Britain on 26 December, 2001 for a winter break in Egypt. They were later seen visiting the pyramids in Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world. The prime minister faced controversy in the Italian press over his family trip to Tuscany in 1999, which was paid for by Italian taxpayers. Mr Blair made a similar donation to charity following that trip. - BBC

Blair's entry on Commons register

December 2001/January 2002, accompanied by my family I spent six nights as a guest of the Egyptian Government at two private Government villas at the New Tower Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt The Egyptian Government also provided my family and I with a return flight from Cairo to Sharm-el-Sheikh I have made charitable donations to a charity chosen by the Egyptian Government equating to the cost to the Egyptians for this accommodation and travel

Blair under fire for not ending holiday [in Egypt during Asian Tsunami]

LONDON, Dec 29 2004: British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday that his government would use its upcoming chairmanship of the Group of Eight industrial nations to help provide aid for victims of Asia's tsunami disaster.

In remarks released after his government defended his staying on in Egypt for a family holiday following Sunday's catastrophe, Mr Blair said he was saddened by the tens of thousands of dead in Asia, who include 26 British tourists.

"This New Year the world is united in sorrow for those affected by one of the biggest natural disasters in our lifetime," Blair said in a statement released by his office as he prepared to return shortly from vacation.

Defending Blair's decision not to interrupt his Egyptian vacation, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the prime minister was entitled to a rest considering that he was normally on duty day and night. "The rest of us, I think, are perfectly capable of handling the situation," he said on BBC Radio.

Straw said that he himself, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had all interrupted their Christmas vacations following Sunday's disaster. "In practice there's nothing directly that he (Blair) can do that's not been done anyway," he added. -AFP

AP via dawn.com

PM used Queen's Flight for Egyptian holiday 'freebie'

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor (Filed: 09/01/2005)

Tony Blair is facing fresh criticism over his holiday arrangements after the disclosure that he cost taxpayers up to £100,000 by using the Queen's Flight to travel with his family for a Christmas break in Egypt, during the height of the tsunami crisis.

They used an RAF 32 Squadron BAe 146, which is also used by the Queen and the Royal Family, to fly to Sharm el Sheikh. Under Commons rules, the Prime Minister is entitled to use the flights, which cost more than £8,000 an hour, but must repay an unspecified proportion of the costs unless he travels wholly on official business.

Downing Street said that Mr Blair had paid the equivalent of a commercial flight - substantially less than the Queen's Flight cost - because he conducted some official business.

The Conservatives, however, questioned why he repeatedly appeared to add an element of business to holiday trips. Chris Grayling, the MP for Epsom and Ewell, is demanding full details under the Freedom of Information Act of the extent of Mr Blair's use of the Queen's Flight, and how much he has paid since 1997.

Last month, Mr Grayling sparked an official investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards after complaining that the Prime Minister had not declared a 2002 holiday at the French home of Alain Dominique Perrin, a leading figure in the tobacco industry. Mr Blair could be forced to apologise to the Commons.

Mr Grayling said: "The Prime Minister appears to have used the Queen's Flight for the majority of his holidays over the years. I want to know how much he has been invoiced for and whether he has always paid the proper amount back to the taxpayer or whether this is a way of getting freebies."

Downing Street said that Mr Blair had met President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the King of Jordan, the King of Bahrain and made a "significant number of phone calls to other world leaders" during his stay. A spokesman said that the RAF plane was used because of security advice. The Queen's Flight is equipped with defensive missiles and armour plating to protect against small arms fire.

A return flight from Heathrow to Sharm el Sheikh, via Cairo, is £434 per person on Egypt Air. A private charter would be nearer £80,000. There are no direct commercial flights. Once in Egypt, Mr Blair used the plane for a return trip to Jordan to see the King. The plane stayed in the region and flew the family home. - telegraph.co.uk/


1985: Palestinian militants attack El-Al counters at Rome and Vienna airports simultaneously, killing 19
1986: Gunmen kill 22 worshippers in a raid on an Istanbul synagogue
1992: Car bomb attack on Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires kills 29 people
1994: At least 96 people are killed in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires
2002: Bombing of Israeli-owned hotel near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa kills 16 people
2003: Car bombs explode outside two synagogues in Istanbul killing 25 people

Flashback - The Tara Hilton bombing:

Isreal: Al-Qaeda 'behind Egypt bombings'

Israeli officials say they suspect al-Qaeda involvement in bomb blasts at Egyptian resorts popular with Israelis, in which at least 28 people died.

The biggest of the three attacks, at the Hilton hotel in Taba, on Egypt's border with Israel, killed 26 people.

The others hit a backpacker camping area near the resort of Nuweiba, 60km (38 miles) further south, killing two.

Rescuers are searching the rubble of the Hilton hotel, but say there is little hope of finding more survivors.

Israeli officials said the Taba attack was caused by a car bomb, which exploded after the vehicle rammed the hotel, and a suicide bomber who detonated a separate bomb.

More than 100 people are reported to have been injured.

The other two bombings on Thursday evening were in a campsite at Ras al-Shitan, an area that is popular with young Israeli backpackers. The dead are believed to be mainly Israeli, as well as at least five Egyptians and one Russian.

The Tara Hilton

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim, who is in Taba, said it was too early to say who carried out the attacks, which could not have been anticipated. But he told reporters: "In my personal opinion, it seems that it is more fitted to the international terror groups like al-Qaeda, or some branches of al-Qaeda."

The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have denied they were involved.

'Collapsed' Dozens of Israeli emergency workers are hunting through the rubble of Taba's Hilton hotel, says the BBC's James Reynolds at the site. As dusk fell, they set up floodlights to continue their search. "We are still searching for life. We are digging almost by hand," Israeli Major-General Yair Naveh said.

About 30 people are still unaccounted for, including two Italians.

Eleven floors on one side of the hotel, including the ceiling of the dining room where tables were set for dinner, collapsed after the blast. The devastation is astonishing, our correspondent says. Palm trees have been felled, spiral staircases are lying on their sides and everywhere is blackened, he reports.

Thousands of Israeli tourists have been flooding back into Israel.


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have agreed in the aftermath of the blasts to reinforce co-operation to fight terrorism together. It is the first major attack on Egyptian soil since the mass killing in the city of Luxor in 1997, in which 58 tourists were shot or hacked to death by Islamist militants. Egypt's Tourism Minister, Ahmed al-Mahgrebi, said the bombings were different from previous attacks targeting the tourism industry.

His desire to emphasise the difference is clearly aimed at preventing a collapse of the industry like that which followed the Luxor killings, the BBC's Heba Saleh reports from Cairo.

Security on the Sinai coast has remained relatively lax because Israelis see this zone as an extension of their homeland. Taba is the main crossing point between Israel and Egypt, and a major gateway for thousands of Israelis going on holiday to resorts and hotels on the Red Sea.

Last month, the Israeli government urged its citizens not to visit the country, saying there had been a firm threat to tourists there.

Israel has now told its citizens to leave Egypt, and the US and Germany have warned their citizens against travelling in the Sinai peninsula.

The bombings are the first major attack on Israelis abroad since the bombing two years ago of a hotel near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa, in which some 16 people died. BBC


The Tara Hilton
Flashback - Egypt refuses Isreali emergency workers...

Israeli intelligence sources say Al Qaeda is behind the Taba bombings.

Color me unsurprised. I am also unsurprised, but extremely angry, at the Egyptian reaction to Israeli rescue services' efforts to help.

Magen David Adom and Israeli firefighter units on their way to help in rescue efforts following the devastating blast at the Hilton Hotel in Taba, Sinai, have accused Egyptian authorities of preventing them from entering Egypt.

"The Egyptians brought a unit of Egyptian firefighters who did not have the proper equipment. They are working with their hands and shovels, and the Egyptian government is not allowing us to bring in our heavy equipment. It is frustrating to stand in front of the destruction, unable to help the situation," fire chief Shimon Romach said on Friday morning.

But wait, it gets worse.

In spite of contacts between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, only four fire trucks and five ambulances have been permitted to enter the area of the attack. About an hour and a half after Israeli forces were authorized to come to the scene, Egyptian authorities announced that Israeli rescue and relief workers who had not brought their passports could not cross the border.

Many firefighters then rushed home to get the necessary documents. However, not all the firefighters have passports, and those without were thus not be permitted to assist in rescue efforts.

So what did the Egyptians do?

The Egyptian tourism minister came to Taba in the early hours of Friday morning and authorized additional firefighters to enter.



Two terror incidents strike Egyptian capital

By Betsy Hiel TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, May 1, 2005 - CAIRO -- Assailants launched two terrorist attacks in the heart of Cairo near tourist sites Saturday, continuing a string of blasts that have hit Egyptian tourist sites since last fall.

A suicide bomber blew himself up in the heart of the Egyptian capital, killing himself and wounding seven others, including four foreigners.

Less than an hour later, two veiled women -- one the bomber's sister, the other his fiancee -- opened fire on a tourist bus near popular Islamic historical sites, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.

The head of Cairo Central Security, Nabil El-Azabi, identified the suicide bomber as Ehab Yousri Yassin, wanted in connection with an April 7 suicide attack on Cairo's popular tourist bazaar, the Khan El-Khalili. That blast killed one American and two French tourists and wounded 18 people.

Two other suspects had been arrested earlier yesterday and Yassin was running from police when he jumped from an overpass and detonated the explosive he was carrying, authorities reported.

An Egyptian, Said Mohammed, 48, was walking in the streets when the first attack occurred yesterday. "I heard the explosion, saw a bag fall from the bridge and a man's head fly off," he said.

A group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades took responsibility for the twin attacks in a message posted on an Internet forum used by Islamic militants. It said the attacks were revenge for the roundup of thousands of suspects arrested by Egyptian authorities after October's near-simultaneous blasts in Sinai resorts that killed 34 people.

The area of yesterday's explosion is near the Egyptian Museum, one of the most popular tourist sites in Cairo, and near an upscale hotel, the Ramses Hilton.

Egyptian Health Minister Mohammed Awad Tag Eddin told Nile News Television that three Egyptians, two Israelis, one Swiss and one Italian were wounded in the attack.

The headless remains of the bomber were visible 30 minutes after the enormous blast rang out in downtown Cairo.

Less than an hour later, two women with veil-covered faces followed a tour bus on Salah Salem Highway leading up to the 1850 Citadel of Mohammed Ali. They stopped their car and fired three times into the back of the bus, then turned their weapons on themselves, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Witnesses, however, said police fired on the women.

One woman died at the scene, the other in a nearby hospital.

The Interior Ministry identified them as Negad Yousri Yassin, the sister of the suicide bomber, and Eman Ibrahim Khamis, the bomber's fiancee. Both were in their 20s, the ministry said.

Two Egyptians were wounded in the shooting attack. None of the bus passengers was injured, police said.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigade statement addressed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak: "The crimes you committed against the people of Sinai ... will not pass lightly. The time for your removal has come."

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades is named after a Palestinian who fought with Osama bin-Laden in Afghanistan before dying there in 1989. It is one of several groups that took responsibility for last year's Sinai bombings at the resorts of Taba and Ras Shaitan.

Melissa Crawford, 30, of London, was in the garden of the Egyptian Museum when she heard the bomb go off. "It was a little bit intimidating and there was a bit of confusion because nobody knew what was going on," she recalled. "We were just sitting in the Egyptian Museum gardens when there was a big bang," said Colin Wilson, 35, also of London. He said security guards' radios lit up and the guards quickly moved tourists inside the museum. Wilson said the attacks will not curtail his trip to Egypt, since terrorist incidents are something he is accustomed to from living in London.

Thousands of Egyptians converged on the scene of the bombing, and Egyptian security quickly set up perimeters and blocked streets. Mohammed, who witnessed the explosion, said "terrorism is a foreign trademark. This must be coming from abroad."

The Interior Ministry, however, identified Yassin as a member of a small cell that enticed a young man to blow himself up in the Khan El-Khalili earlier this month. Diaa Rashwan, an expert on Islamists at Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said such terror attacks are not unexpected given the Middle East's overheated environment following 2003's U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"The U.S. occupation of Iraq has engendered an environment conducive to the spread of Islamist extremism and militant groups throughout the Arab and Islamic world," Rashwan said. He said those cells might emulate al-Qaida's methods, but do not have direct links to bin Laden's terrorist group.

"As a result, the Arab and Islamic world is now teeming with what we might term al-Qaida clones," he said. Betsy Hiel


Flashback: The CIA trained these groups with Carter/Reagan approval

President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, decided to provoke the Soviet invasion by supporting Afghan resistance to the Afghan government, and when the Soviets duly invaded Afghanistan, the Reagan Administration massively increased the assistance programme.

Both Brzezinski and, later, the Neoconservatives of the Reagan Administration were doing so to provoke the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Brzezinski claimed in a 1998 interview:-

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Under the Reagan Administration, Arab governments were encouraged to send volunteers to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

from The BBC's documentary "The Power of Nightmares"

VO: At the very same time, another group began to arrive in Afghanistan to fight alongside the mujaheddin. They were Arabs from across the Middle East, who had been told by their religious leaders that their duty was to go and free Muslim lands from the Soviet invader.

ABDULLAH ANAS , General Commander Afghan Arabs, Northern Afghanistan, 1984-1989: I saw the fatwa, the order saying that every Muslim has a duty to help the Afghans to liberate their land. But I had no idea, where is this Afghanistan? How can I go there? I've never heard about Afghanistan, and I've never heard-in the map. Which airline goes there? From where can I take the visa? It-100 questions! But I did meet Abdullah Azzam.

VO: Abdullah Azzam was a charismatic religious leader who had begun to organize the Arab volunteers in Afghanistan. He had set up what he called the Services Bureau, in Peshawar on the Afghan border. It became the headquarters of an international brigade of Arab fighters. Azzam quickly became one of the most powerful figures in the battle against the Soviets. He was allowed to visit America on many occasions, both to raise funds and recruit volunteers for the jihad.

Dr. AZZAM TAMIMI , Institute of Islamic Political Thought: When, Abdullah Azzam became so instrumental in marketing the Afghan cause among the Arabs, he became very important. He became called "the emir of the Arab mujaheddin." The leader of the Arab mujaheddin. And he set up an office in Peshawar which provided services to Arabs who came and wanted to participate in the jihad. There were no doors closed, so all doors were opened, because the Americans, the Saudis, the Pakistanis, and many other people wanted the Soviet Union to lose in Afghanistan, and to be humiliated. That brought about huge numbers of Arabs from different backgrounds in the jihad in Afghanistan. He went to America, he went to Saudi Arabia, he traveled wherever he wanted, because the Afghan cause was a cause that everybody was happy supporting.

VO: But like the neoconservatives, Azzam also saw the struggle against the Soviets as just the first step in a much wider revolution. He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who wanted Islam to play a political role in governing Muslim societies. And Abdullah Azzam believed that the Arabs in Afghanistan could be the nucleus of a new political force. They would return to their own countries and persuade the people to reject the corrupt, autocratic regimes that dominated the Middle East. But these regimes, Azzam insisted, must be overthrown by political means. He made every fighter pledge they would not use terrorism against civilians in the pursuit of their vision. One of Azzam's closest aides was a Saudi, Osama bin-Laden.

The Power of Nightmares



The origins Osama bin Laden

Since its creation in 1988, Osama bin Laden has controlled Al-Qaeda. As such, he is both the backbone and the principal driving force behind the network. The origins Osama bin Laden, alias Osama Mohammad al Wahad, alias Abu Abdallah, alias Al Qaqa, born in 1957, is the son of Mohammad bin Awdah bin Laden of Southern Yemen. When he moved to Saudi Arabia, Osama's father became a construction magnate and renovated the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, making the Bin Ladens a highly respected family both within the Saudi royal household and with the public. At Jeddah University, Osama bin Laden's worldview was shaped by Dr Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian of Jordanian origin. An influential figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, Azzam is regarded as the historical leader of Hamas. After graduation, Bin Laden became deeply religious. His exact date of arrival in Pakistan or Afghanistan remains disputed but some Western intelligence agencies place it in the early 1980s.

Azzam and Prince Turki bin Faisal bin Abdelaziz, chief of security of Saudi Arabia, were his early mentors, and later Dr Ayman Zawahiri, became his religious mentor.

In 1982-1984 Azzam founded Maktab al Khidmat lil-mujahidin al-Arab (MaK), known commonly as the Afghan bureau. As MaK's principal financier, Bin Laden was considered the deputy to Azzam, the leader of MaK. Other leaders included Abdul Muizz, Abu Ayman, Abu Sayyaf, Samir Abdul Motaleb and Mohammad Yusuff Abass.

At the height of the foreign Arab and Muslim influx into Pakistan-Afghanistan from 1984- 1986, Bin Laden spent time traveling widely and raising funds in the Arab world. He recruited several thousand Arab and Muslim youths to fight the Soviet Union, and MaK channeled several billion dollars' worth of Western governmental, financial and material resources for the Afghan jihad. MaK worked closely with Pakistan, especially the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the Saudi government and Egyptian governments, and the vast Muslim Brotherhood network.

Both the fighting and relief efforts were assisted by two banks - Dar al Mal al Islami, founded by Turki's brother Prince Mohammad Faisal in 1981 and Dalla al Baraka founded by King Fahd's brother- in-law in 1982. The banks channeled funds to 20 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the most famous of which was the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). With IIRO and the Islamic Relief Agency functioned under the umbrella of the World Islamic League led by Mufti Abdul Aziz bin Baz. In addition to benefiting from the vast resources and expertise of governments channeled through domestic and foreign sources, MaK developed an independent global reach through several mosques and charities throughout the world. - mwarrior.com

Blasts kill over 60 in Egyptian Red Sea resort

Sat Jul 23, 2005 1:30 PM IST By Tom Perry

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - At least 62 people died and 200 were wounded when car bombs ripped through markets and hotels in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday in Egypt's worst attack in nearly a decade. Shaken European tourists spoke of mass panic and hysteria as people fled the carnage in the early hours, with bodies strewn across the roads, people screaming and sirens wailing. The regional governor said the resort, popular with divers and European holidaymakers, had been rocked by two car bombs and possibly a suitcase bomb.

One blast tore the front off the Ghazala Gardens Hotel in Naama Bay, the site of most of the resort's luxury hotels. People were feared trapped in the rubble of the lobby. A car broke into the hotel compound and exploded in front of the building, South Sinai Governor Mustafa Afifi said. Egyptian tourist hotels always have police guards at the gates.

Egyptian television quoted Health Minister MohamedAwad Tag el-Din as saying the death toll had risen to 62.

Along with Egyptians, several Britons, French, Spaniards, Dutch, Qataris and Kuwaitis were among the dead and wounded, police sources said. Al Jazeera television quoted Interior Minister Habib el-Adli as saying there were eight foreigners among the dead. There was no claim of responsibility nor any comment from the authorities on who might be responsible for the attack -- the worst on a tourist target in Egypt since militant Islamists trying to bring down the government killed 58 tourists at an ancient temple near Luxor in 1997.

It also recalled the bombing of another Red Sea resort, Taba on the Israeli border, in October. Thirty-four people died in those blasts, which Egyptian authorities blamed on a Palestinian leading an unaffiliated group. Last month Israel stepped up warnings to its own citizens, saying the risk of another such attack had risen.

In April, three tourists were killed and others wounded in two bombings in the capital, Cairo.


Ahmed Mustafa, a waiter at a coffee shop near the first of the explosions, said a massive fireball tore through the car park outside a shopping mall in Sharm el-Sheikh town. The explosion turned cars into skeletons of twisted metal, blew down masonry on nearby buildings and shattered windows for hundreds of metres (yards) around. "I have never been so scared in the whole of my life," British tourist Samantha Hardcastle told BBC television.

Thirteen Italians and 15 other foreigners were among the wounded, a Tourism Ministry spokeswoman said. She had no firm figures for the number of non-Egyptian fatalities. Egypt's tourism minister worried that the attacks would hit the $6.6 billion tourism industry, the country's biggest private sector employer, in the short term.

The first explosion hit the old market in Sharm el-Sheikh town shortly after 1 a.m. (2200 GMT), filling the air with fire and smoke, residents said.

"I saw a car flying up in the air, people running," restaurant owner Yehya Mohammed said by telephone. "I do not think I will ever forget this in my life. This is a horrible setback for tourism here."

A rescue official said many wounded were Egyptian workers gathered at a cafe in the old market. Seventeen of the dead were burnt beyond recognition. Sharm residents said they heard two more explosions coming from Naama Bay in quick succession, blasts that could be felt 10 km (six miles) away. Witnesses said the first of these hit the hotel and the second a taxi rank. The blasts came at a time when many tourists were still out in bars and markets in the popular and hitherto safe resort.


"The whole area was quickly covered in debris. There was a huge ball of smoke that mushroomed up. It was mass hysteria," Charlie Ives, a London policeman on holiday, told the BBC.

Tourist Fabio Basone said: "People were trying to run in any direction to get away but were not clear where to go."

Security sources said at least one car that blew up had special plates indicating it had come over the Israeli border at Taba on the Sinai peninsula. "We condemn this act in the strongest possible terms. There can be no excuse for the targeting of innocent civilians," a U.S. State Department spokesman said in Washington.

Egyptian Tourism Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi said: "These incidents will have an effect in the short term (on tourism)." Foreigners have been targeted in Egypt in earlier attacks. Tourism is a major source of revenues and employment in Egypt, which needs to create about 650,000 jobs a year for its youthful population. Some analysts say Egypt attracted extra visitors this year after many avoided tsunami-hit Asia. Reuters

Al-Qaida-linked militants claim responsibility for resort bomb

23/07/2005 - 09:54:02 - A group citing ties to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for today's Sharm El Sheikh bombings that killed at least 62 people, according to a statement posted on an Islamic website. The group, calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al Qaida, in Syria and Egypt, said that its "holy warriors targeted the Ghazala Gardens hotel and the Old Market in Sharm El Sheikh".

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

The brigades were one of two Islamist groups that claimed responsibility for the October 7 bombings at Sinai Peninsula Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34 people.

"Your brothers, the holy warriors of the martyr Abdullah Azzam Brigades succeeded in launching a smashing attack on the Crusaders, Zionists and the renegade Egyptian regime in Sharm El Sheikh," said the statement. "We reaffirm that this operation was in response to the crimes committed by the forces of international evil, which are spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. "We declare it loud and clear that we will not be frightened by the whips of the Egyptian torturers and we will not tolerate violation of our brothers' land of Sinai," the statement added in an apparent reference to tourists who travel from neighbouring Israel to Sinai Peninsula for holidays.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigades are apparently named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian militant who led Islamic militants in Afghanistan and was killed in 1989 by a roadside bomb, and was regarded as the one-time "spiritual mentor" of al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

Azzam studied Islamic theology in Egypt before travelling to Saudi Arabia where he lectured in Islamic law. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Azzam was financed by Saudi Arabia and other Islamic states to establish camps for Muslim militants who joined the fight against the Russian forces. - IOL

Holiday resort blasts leave 75 dead

23/07/2005 - 10:50:28 - A rapid series of car bombs and another blast ripped through a luxury hotel and a coffee shop in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheik today, killing at least 75, police said.

Terrified European and Arab tourists fled into the night, and rescue workers said the death toll was almost certain to rise.

The attack, Egypt's deadliest terror attacks, appeared well co-ordinated. Two car bombs, possibly suicide attackers, went off simultaneously at 1.15a, some 2.5 miles apart. A third bomb, believed to have been hidden in a sack, detonated at about the same time near a beachside walkway where tourists often stroll at night.

Several hours after the attack, a group citing ties to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the explosion on an Islamic website.

The group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al Qaida, in Syria and Egypt, was one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34. The group also claimed responsibility for a Cairo bombing in late April.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but a top Egyptian official said there are some indications the latest bombings were linked to last autumn's Taba explosions.

"We have some clues, especially about the car that was exploded in the Old Market, and investigators are pursuing," said Interior Minister Habib al-Adli. He called it "an ugly act of terrorism".

Neighbouring countries, the US, Israel and others condemned the attacks. Neighbouring Jordan said it was immediately tightening security at its tourist sites.

The blasts killed 75 people, police officials in Sharm El Sheikh said.

At least eight foreigners were among the dead, Al-Adli said.

The dead included British, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis and Qataris, a security official said.

The death toll was likely to rise, rescue workers said. The lobby of the 176-room Ghazala Gardens hotel in Sharm's Naama Bay, the main strip of hotels, collapsed into a pancaked pile of concrete. Rescue workers feared more victims were still buried under the rubble.

David Stewart, a tourist from from Liverpool, England, was staying with his wife and two teenage daughters at the Ghazala Gardens when the explosion hit. The windows of his room were smashed, and he and his family ran.

"Somebody shouted 'Keep moving'," he said. "The lights were out. I couldn't tell what was happening."

His family, like many others, fled toward the back of the hotel to take refuge in a grassy lawn near the pool. There, hundreds spent the night, some lying on pool mattresses.

On the other side of Sharm in the Old Market, a second car bomb in a minibus park sent a ball of flaming wreckage shooting over a nearby beach and into the sea and littered the sand with body parts. Overturned chairs, broken waterpipes and pools of blood were scattered around the ravaged coffeeshop nearby, frequented by Egyptians who work in the resorts.

"The country's going to come to a stop. That's it!" sobbed Samir al-Mitwalli, who arrived in Sharm only a month ago to work as a driver. "Who's paying the price? Whoever did this wants to destroy the economy."

The string of attacks stunned a town that has long been dedicated to scuba diving at the famed coral reefs off its shores and partying on the beches.

Sharm El Sheikh has expanded at a furious pace in recent years, making it a major player in Egypt's vital tourism industry, drawing Europeans, Israelis and Arabs from oil-producing Gulf nations.

President Hosni Mubarak has a residence there where he spends the winter, and the town has been host to multiple summits for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The attacks last autumn in Taba ended a long halt in militant violence. The last major attack was in 1997, when Islamic militants killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians at the Pharaonic Temple of Hatshepsut outside Luxor in southern Egypt. Today's violence was the deadliest since Islamic militant attacks began in Egypt in 1992.

There were signs that the bombings were by suicide attackers. Witnesses in the blast that hit the coffeeshop reported the attack vehicle was moving when it blew up, and the governor of South Sinai, Mustafa Afifi, said the car in the Ghazala attack broke through security into the front driveway of the hotel before exploding.

Britain's ambassador to Egypt, Sir Derek Plumbly, told BBC radio that eight Britons were among the injured, but no British deaths had been confirmed.

The attack that so far appeared to have killed the most foreign tourists was a bomb hidden in a sack that went off by the beach-side pedestrian walkway, killing six foreigners and an Egyptian, said a security official in Sharm.

The far heavier damage was caused by the two car bombs, which sent flames and palls of smoke over Sharm and shook windows as far as a mile away.

The blast swept through the interior of the sprawling, low-built Ghazala hotel, shattering windows and shredding metal. Blood splattered some of the walls, and tree limbs from its gardens were strewn everywhere.

The blast at the Old Market tore through a coffeeshop on the side of the minibus lot, killing at least 17 Egyptians who were sitting there, said a security official in the operations control room in Cairo monitoring the crisis.

More than eight hours later, the overturned shell of a minibus was still smouldering, near a large crater in the asphalt. Witnesses said the minibus was driving nearby when the explosives-laden vehicle swept into the lot, and the minibus driver tried to swerve to avoid the blast. The square's clock was stopped at the time of the explosion.

"This flaming mass flew over my head, faster than a torpedo, and plunged into the water," said Mursi Gaber, who at the time of the blast was putting up decorations on a nearby beach. "There were body parts all over the steps down to the beach."

"This is a security farce," said Omar Ezzideen, owner of a children's clothing store in a nearby mall whose windows were shattered by the blast. "How can something like this happen here? How could (explosives) enter here? The national economy is based on this." - IOL

Egypt terror probe widens

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 Posted: 0455 GMT (1255 HKT)

Police have identified five Pakistanis they want to trace.

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) -- Police said Monday they were searching for five Pakistani men in their widening investigation into Egypt's deadliest terror attack, which killed scores of people at this Red Sea resort. Egypt sacked its two security chiefs for the Sinai peninsula after the Saturday bombings in their region. The Health Ministry said 64 people were killed but local hospitals put the toll at 88, saying the ministry count does not include sets of body parts.

Early Monday morning, police launched a sweep in a desert mountain area about 24 miles from Sharm's main strip of hotels after they got a tip that several unidentified men were seen fleeing in that direction, security officials said. Police at checkpoints around this resort also were circulating photographs of five Pakistanis who apparently were among a group of nine Pakistanis who arrived in Sharm el-Sheik from Cairo on July 5, according to two investigators who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the probe's sensitivity.

The five were identified as Mohammed Anwar, 30; Rashid Ali, 26; Mohammed Aref, 26; Musaddeq Hussein, 18; and Mohammed Akhtar, 30. The pictures, which gave the men's names and passport numbers, also were on posters put up in Cairo, apparently out of concern they were in the capital either before or since the attacks. But officials did not say the men were known to be connected to the bombing. One senior official said the men had overstayed their visas and police were looking widely into any illegal activity in the wake of the blasts. If any involvement of Pakistanis is confirmed, it would suggest that those behind Saturday's bombings belong to a much wider terror network than previously believed.

President Bush signed a condolence book Monday at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and said the people responsible for the deadly attack "have no heart." Bush said his visit was meant to "reiterate my country's strong desire to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Egypt and bring justice to those who killed innocent people."

Egyptian security forces already have detained more than 70 people in Sharm and other parts of the Sinai since the attacks.

On Sunday, police said they were hunting for three bombers who may have escaped after the attack. They said a fourth attacker apparently was a suicide bomber who crashed a pickup truck laden with explosives hidden under vegetables into a hotel lobby. Another avenue investigators have been following is that Saturday's attacks were carried out by a Sinai-based network believed responsible for the October bombings in the Sinai tourist resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, about 125 miles north of Sharm el-Sheik. Those attacks killed 34 people.

Police said Sunday they were conducting DNA testing on the remains of a suicide bomber found Saturday in a car that rammed into the Ghazala Gardens Hotel in Naama Bay, the city's main tourist area. Two other blasts rocked a parking lot near the hotel and an area about two miles away called the Old Market. The DNA was being compared to samples taken from the parents of five suspects still at large from the October attacks to determine if there was a match, a police official said in el-Arish, where the parents live.

Egyptian authorities have portrayed the Taba bombings as an extension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than a homegrown Islamic militant movement or an al Qaeda-linked operation. They said a Palestinian who died in the attacks had recruited Bedouins and Egyptians to plot the bombings. But the sophistication of the Sharm bombings -- and their timing on the heels of two rounds of attacks in London -- raised worries of an international connection.

The involvement of Pakistanis in the attack in Sharm el-Sheik would be unprecedented, as non-Egyptians rarely have been linked to attacks here. It also would be extremely difficult for a group of young Pakistanis not to be noticed in Sharm, one of the most heavily policed cities in Egypt and a favorite residence of President Hosni Mubarak. Pakistani involvement also would increase suspicions that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network may have been involved. The Saudi-born bin Laden is popular among militant Pakistani groups and is known to enjoy support in tribal areas close to the Afghan border.

British authorities have been seeking several Pakistanis in connection to this month's deadly bombings in London, and Washington has raised the possibility that both the London and Sharm attacks were planned by al Qaeda. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said Monday that al Qaeda's command and communication system in his country has been eliminated and that the network could not have orchestrated terrorist attacks in London or Sharm el-Sheik from Pakistan.

"Is it possible in this situation that an al Qaeda man sitting here, no matter who he is, may control things in London, Sharm el-Sheik, Istanbul or Africa. This is absolutely wrong," he said.

Two claims of responsibility

South Sinai Gov. Mustafa Afifi said Monday that 17 foreigners, including Westerners and citizens from other Arab states, were killed in the attacks. At least one American was killed. Las Vegas native Kristina Miller was vacationing in Egypt with her British boyfriend Kerry Davies, celebrating her 27th birthday Friday night, when the bombs went off an hour after midnight

Two Italians and a Czech were confirmed killed, according to their governments, and a hospital official in Sharm said two Britons and two Germans were killed. Several Italians and Britons were unaccounted for.

One of the two groups that claimed responsibility for the attacks warned in a new Web statement posted Monday of a "total war" unless "Jews and Christians leave our country within 60 days." If not, "you will see what you've never dreamed of," said the statement by the Holy Warriors of Egypt, signed by its "general leader, Hamoudi al-Masri," an apparent pseudonym. The message had numerous grammatical mistakes in Arabic.

The group had not been heard of before its claim this weekend. A conflicting claim was issued by an al Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which also took responsibility for last October's bombings in Taba and Ras al-Shitan. The statements could not be verified.

On Sunday, security officials said the bombers appeared to have entered Sharm in two pickup trucks loaded with explosives hidden under vegetables. Afifi said the Ghazala suicide bomber ran down and killed two security guards before crashing into the reception area and detonating his explosives, which investigators have said weighed 660 pounds. Shortly after, a backpack filled with explosives left by another attacker blew up near the parking lot and taxi stand close to the Ghazala, he said.

The terrorist involved in the third blast in the Old Market intended to attack a hotel, possibly the Iberotel Palace, Afifi said. But the attacker was stopped in a line of cars at a nearby police checkpoint and got out of his pickup before it exploded. Police are investigating whether that attacker died in the blast.

Before the attacks, the militants rubbed serial numbers off the trucks' engines, the officials said. Such serial numbers had been a key clue Egyptian investigators had used to track down those behind the October bombings at Taba and Ras Shitan. - CNN

Egyptian experts say Mossad could be behind bombings

7/25/2005 3:12:00 PM GMT

Several Egyptian security experts and political analysts said that the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, was behind Saturday's attacks on the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.

Similar accusations were made against Israel in the past, particularly after last year's attack at the Taba Hotel in October and after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Saturday's pre-dawn blasts killed more than 64 people, according to Egypt's health ministry, although hospital officials put the toll as high as 88. Many Egyptian security officials said at least one car used in the bombings had special plates indicating it had come from the Israeli border at Taba on the Sinai peninsula.

On Saturday, Egypt's state-run television interviewed retired army general Fuad Allam, who said that he was confident that Israel played a key role in Sharm al-Sheikh bombings. Fuad also said that investigations showed that the mastermind of the Taba attack, which killed more than 34 people, was a Palestinian "apparently linked to Israel's security forces." He added: "I'm almost certain that Israel was also behind this attack because they want to undermine our government and deal a severe blow to our economy. The only ones who benefit from these attacks are the Israelis and the Americans."

Other Egyptian political figures and prominent journalists and editors interviewed by Arabic TV channels made similar accusations. Dia Rashwan, a political expert, said that Israel is the only country that benefits from such attacks. Dismissing the idea that "al-Qaeda" was behind the bombings, Rashwan explained: "We are giving al- Qaeda more credit than it deserves. What happened here negates the possibility that the attacks were carried out by ordinary elements. This is the work of an extraordinary element - one that benefits from such attacks. All the available details indicate that only the Israelis could have done this."

Majdi Birnawi, another security expert, said that the Mossad was behind the attacks. "I believe that Mossad or some other [Israeli] security organization carried out this attack," Birnawi said he believed the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings were related to the Taba attacks, in which 12 Israelis were killed. "Everyone knows that there are no Israelis in Sharm e-Sheikh," he said. "There are only Western tourists there. That's why it's wrong to assume that the perpetrators were targeting Israelis."

- Aljazeera

Egypt rules out Pakistanis' role in blasts

An Egyptian diplomat said Tuesday that Pakistanis were not involved in the weekend bombing spree in this Red Sea resort, despite the police circulating photographs of five Pakistani men a day earlier.

Police, meanwhile, carried out more arrests in connection with the country's deadliest terrorist attack. Police distributed photos of five Pakistani men at checkpoints in and around Sharm el-Sheik on Monday, and several newspapers published the same pictures provided by the Interior Ministry. There has been no direct link between the wanted men and Saturday's three pre-dawn bombings, even though at least two security officials said the Pakistanis had flown into Sharm from Cairo several days earlier.

"No Pakistani national was involved in the terrorist attacks that rocked Sharm el-Sheik late last Saturday," the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.

Egypt's ambassador to Pakistan, Hussein Haridy, said he informed the Pakistani Government by telephone late on Monday of the Egyptian conclusion. Posters of the missing Pakistanis were put up in Cairo. Officials now say they are seeking the men for illegally entering Egypt.

Separately, Egyptian security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said police detained an unspecified number of people overnight, including women, in the Husseinat and Muqataa villages in the northern Sinai Peninsula near the border with the Gaza Strip. The officials said they were detained as part of the Sharm investigation, but it was unclear what involvement if any they had to the attacks. Police also have been carrying out desert sweeps outside Sharm in search of suspects. At least 70 people have been arrested for questioning, and some are believed to have been released.

On Saturday, two blasts rocked the popular Naama Bay tourist strip, including a suicide truck bomb attack that devastated the reception area of the Ghazala Gardens Hotel and a knapsack filled with explosives that detonated nearby soon after.

Three kilometres away, another truck bomb ravaged an area called the Old Market, which is popular with Egyptians.

The death toll stood at 90, according to the head of the Sharm el-Sheik hospital that treated the victims, but Egypt's Health Ministry has put it at 64.

Hospitals said the ministry count excludes some sets of body parts. South Sinai's governor said on Monday that 17 of the dead were non-Egyptians, including Westerners and citizens from other Arab states. American Kristina Miller, from Las Vegas, along with an Italian couple, a Briton and a Czech have been confirmed killed by their governments, while 10 Britons and several Italians also remain unaccounted for. The chief of Sharm's hospital said two Britons and two Germans were killed, but their governments have not confirmed those numbers.

Britain's Foreign Office Tuesday released a statement from the families of a British couple, Jeremy Lakin, 34, and Annalie Vickers, 31, who have been missing since the explosions and are feared dead. If proven, their deaths would take the number of Britons confirmed killed to three.

Meanwhile, 20 of Egypt's top movie and music stars visited Sharm Tuesday, touring the attack scenes and visiting some of the hospitalized Egyptians.

Source: China Daily


27.7.2005. 09:02:23 - Egyptian investigators say they have identified a man suspected to be one of the bombers who died in the Sharm el-Sheikh attacks.

Three days after the blasts many aspects of the investigation are still shrouded in mystery with no clear direction emerging in the probe so far.

There is contradictory information on the casualty toll and three different claims for the attacks.

Security sources said investigators suspect a known Sinai Islamist called Yusef Badran was one of the suicide bombers involved in the triple bomb attacks in the Red Sea resort on Saturday, the deadliest in Egypt. DNA tests were being carried out on his family and compared with the remains of the suspected Ghazala Gardens hotel bomber, the most devastating of the strikes.

Badran had already been suspected of involvement in another wave of attacks that killed at least 34 people in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Nuweiba further north last October. His family in the Sinai town of Al-Arish said he had been missing for months.

Egyptian forces have been combing the Sinai since Saturday's bombings, arresting around 200 people.

Meanwhile officials fiercely denied the involvement of any Pakistani nationals in the triple bombings. Egyptian security sources had said Monday that six Pakistanis who entered the country earlier this month were being sought over the Sharm bombings. Their pictures were among those of dozens of suspects posted in police stations in the Sharm el-Sheikh area and in Cairo. But Sharawi said security services never distributed the pictures.

Egypt's ambassador to Pakistan Hussein Haridy said he had informed Islamabad "that no Pakistani national was involved in the terrorist acts that rocked Sharm el-Sheikh late last Saturday."

Mr Adly's first adviser, Mohammed Sharawi, also said the six Pakistanis mentioned in media reports were not linked to the bombings. - SBS.com

Egypt gets racist too...just like UK & the US it blames its minority - The Bedouins

Egypt Attack Probe Expanded To 15

CAIRO, Egypt , July 27, 2005 (CBS/AP) A total of 15 militants are being sought for playing a role in the Sharm el-Sheik bombings, both Bedouin and non-Bedouin, but all with links to an earlier attack last fall and most operating from a desert town near the Gaza Strip, officials said Wednesday.

As it broadened the search for suspects, the government found itself scrambling for new ways to combat what now appears to be an organized, strong militants' network something the government has long insisted did not exist.

The Saturday bombings have raised concerns that the government's past tactics, including widespread arrests last fall in the Sinai's vast deserts, did little to uproot support for militants.

The list of 15 names includes a man identified as Moussa Badran, the alleged suicide attacker who rammed a pickup truck packed with explosives into Sharm's Ghazala Gardens Hotel during the Saturday attacks.

The list also includes Bedouin tribesmen and other natives of Sinai, said security officials, who declined to be identified because the release of the information had not been authorized. Most on the list are at-large and are believed to have carried out, planned or prepared the Sharm attacks. Most also are connected to bombings last October in two Sinai resorts farther north, officials said.

Most also are believed to be operating from the town of el-Arish, or villages around it, in the northern Sinai near the Gaza Strip.

The security failures in Sharm were twofold: First, militants were able to get 1,100 pounds of explosives into the heavily policed resort, despite checkpoints in and out.

Second, the government's nine months of security sweeps and hundreds of arrests since the October bombings have apparently failed to rid the region of militants.

The government acknowledged failure Monday, sacking Sinai's two security chiefs and starting disciplinary procedures against at least a dozen police and security officers for dereliction of duty, according to security officials. "They are mostly those on duty at the time of the bombings," said one of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Officials also are following every possible lead on the explosives, including that they may have come from neighboring Gaza, neighboring Israel, Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

Either way, the final leg of the explosives' journey into Sharm is likely to have taken place on desert routes where security is thinly spread or doesn't exist at all.

One possible source is Sinai's Bedouin, some of whom still follow a nomadic lifestyle and pay little heed to official authority, living by tribal justice.

Some earn money growing cannabis in valleys between rugged and largely inaccessible mountains, that are the occasional scene of armed clashes between growers and security forces dispatched to eradicate their illicit crops.

Many more rely on smuggling; including the smuggling of illegal workers into Israel and the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

"The Bedouin have always been something of a problem to authorities," said Claude Moniquet, a terror expert who heads the Brussels-based European Strategic, Intelligence and Security Center. "They smuggle anything and everything."

But any Bedouin involvement in the Sharm or the October bombings would most likely be for financial gain, not ideology, he said. Until the bombings at Taba last fall, Egypt had enjoyed a reprieve from Islamic violence since 1997. But the October bombings, three attacks on foreign tourists in Cairo earlier this year and the Sharm attacks have shattered the lull, and indicated the emergence of another network of militants.

Authorities, however, have disputed that. They linked the October's bombings to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and dismissed the Cairo attacks as the work of an isolated cell of misguided young people. They are following the same tactic now, strongly discouraging the idea that the Sharm bombings might have been linked to Osama bin Laden's terror group. But both sets of Sinai bombings did bear the hallmarks of an al Qaeda job.

Three groups claimed responsibility for the attacks. One of the groups warned in an Internet statement Monday of a "total war" unless "Jews and Christians leave our country within 60 days." The statement was signed by the Holy Warriors of Egypt.

A conflicting claim was issued Saturday by an al Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which also claimed responsibility for the October bombings. None of the statements' authenticity could be confirmed.

A third claim was posted Tuesday on the Internet in the name of a previously unknown militant group purporting links to al Qaeda. The statement said the group, called Egyptian Tawhid and Jihad, attacked the "Crusaders" in Sharm on orders from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian-born deputy Ayman al-Zawahri "in support of our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The claim, which was posted on a militant Islamic Web site where statements by the al Qaeda terror network have previously appeared, could not be independently authenticated. Tawhid and Jihad is Arabic for monotheism and holy war.

Egypt's insurgents of the 1990s sought to topple Mubarak's regime and replace it with a purist Islamic state.

Sending scores of extremists to the gallows and jailing thousands without charge helped quell the violence of the 1990s. But it appeared to do little to uproot the causes of militancy in a nation of 72 million people, with economic and social imbalances.

The government launched educational programs in jails to persuade militants to abandon violence, and some of their leaders publicly repented, writing "revisionist" literature.

Others are holding out, refusing to renounce their ideology, while large segments of society, including the urban middle-class, have moved to the religious right.

While generally moderate, many are scornful of Western civilization, harbor hatred for the United States and are sympathetic toward the insurgency in Iraq. - CBS

Egypt admits arrest & Torture

Suicide Bomber Identified in Egypt Attack

Tuesday July 26, 2005 5:01 PM - SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (AP) - Investigators have identified a body they suspect is that of a suicide bomber in the weekend attacks that killed scores in this Red Sea resort, saying he was an Egyptian with Islamic militant ties, security officials said Tuesday as investigators questioned dozens more people. Security officials also said Egyptian authorities received information about an imminent terrorist attack in Sharm el-Sheik days ahead of the devastating bombings. However, authorities believed the attack would target casinos, so security was increased around those sites, two officials said on condition of anonymity because release of the information was not authorized.

The officials, who have knowledge of the investigation, would not say where the tip came from but said security forces were put on alert in the resort on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula several days before the pre-dawn Saturday attacks.

But instead of casinos, the bombers in two explosives-laden trucks targeted hotels just after 1 a.m. Saturday. One plowed into the Ghazala Gardens reception area, leveling the lobby. A second headed for another hotel but got caught in traffic and detonated before reaching its target.

Police using DNA tests identified one of the bodies found at the Ghazala site as Youssef Badran, an Egyptian Sinai resident who they said has links to Islamic militants, security officials said. Those links led the officials to suspect he was the bomber in the attack, they said. Police held members of Badran's family for questioning and were trying to determine his associates, the officials said. Across Sinai, security forces took in 70 people for questioning Tuesday, bringing to 140 the number held since Saturday's pre-dawn blasts.

Also Tuesday, an Egyptian diplomat said Pakistanis were not involved in the bombings, despite police circulating photographs of five Pakistani men a day earlier. Police distributed photos of five Pakistani men at checkpoints in and around Sharm el-Sheik on Monday, and several state-owned newspapers published the same pictures provided by the Interior Ministry. There has been no direct link between the wanted men and the bombings, even though at least two security officials said the Pakistanis had flown into Sharm from Cairo several days earlier.

'No Pakistani national was involved in the terrorist attacks that rocked Sharm el-Sheik late last Saturday,'' the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.

Egypt's ambassador to Pakistan, Hussein Haridy, said he informed the Pakistani government by telephone late Monday of the Egyptian conclusion. Posters of the missing Pakistanis were put up in Cairo. Officials now say they are seeking the men for illegally entering Egypt.

Two blasts rocked the popular Naama Bay tourist strip, including the suicide truck bomb attack at the hotel. Two miles away, a third truck bomb ravaged an area called the Old Market, which is popular with Egyptians. The remains of another suspected bomber were discovered at the Old Market, and DNA tests were being conducted, a security official said.

The death toll stood at 88, according to the head of the Sharm el-Sheik hospital that treated the victims, but Egypt's Health Ministry has put it at 64. Hospitals said the ministry count excludes some sets of body parts.

South Sinai's governor said Monday that 17 of the dead were non-Egyptians, including Westerners and citizens from other Arab states. One American, Kristina Miller, 27, of Las Vegas, was killed.

Meanwhile, 20 of Egypt's top movie and music stars visited Sharm on Tuesday, touring the attack scenes and visiting some of the hospitalized Egyptians. 'I am here to tell my people that we shouldn't let terrorism have its way,'' director Youssef Chahine said while touring the gutted hotel. 'The people are very sad but they are not afraid. It's not the first time but it is the most vicious one.''

Investigators are pursuing a possible connection to October's bombings in two Sinai resorts farther north, Taba and Ras Shitan, that killed 34 people, including many Israelis. DNA from the suspected bombers' remains were being compared with samples from the parents of five suspects still at large from the Taba blasts. The Sharm attacks had hallmarks of other al-Qaida-style operations - near-simultaneous bombings using a mix of techniques, including vehicle-borne and other bombs. Three groups claimed responsibility for the attacks. One of the groups warned in an Internet statement Monday of a 'total war'' unless 'Jews and Christians leave our country within 60 days.'' The statement was signed by the Holy Warriors of Egypt.

A conflicting claim was issued Saturday by an al-Qaida-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which also claimed responsibility for the October bombings. None of the statements' authenticity could be confirmed.

A third claim was posted Tuesday on the Internet in the name of a previously unknown militant group purporting links to al-Qaida. The statement said the group, called Egyptian Tawhid and Jihad, attacked the 'Crusaders'' in Sharm on orders from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian-born deputy Ayman al-Zawahri 'in support of our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan.''

The claim, which was posted on a militant Islamic Web site where statements by the al-Qaida terror network have previously appeared, could not be independently authenticated. Tawhid and Jihad is Arabic for monotheism and holy war. - guardian.co.uk

Egypt had warning

Egypt had warning before resort attacks

Compiled by Daily Star staff Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Egyptian authorities had received a warning following the July 7 London bombings that the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh could be targeted, security sources said yesterday. "Following the latest attacks in London, the Egyptian security services had received information that terror attacks could be perpetrated in Sharm al-Sheikh," a senior police source said.

The source said "the warning came four days before the three explosions rocked the city." The attacks struck Egypt's flagship holiday resort on July 23, at the height of the tourist season. "Police forces were put on high alert and security was beefed up in the city, where police presence and checks were increased," the same source said.

The official denied reports that security had only been strengthened around casinos and that the warning was received more than a month before the attacks. Police were searching for more than a dozen Egyptians and local tribesmen believed to have played a role in the attacks, senior security officials said.

Egyptian police have come up with a list of 15 names believed connected to the three bombings, including a man identified as Moussa Badran, the suicide attacker who rammed a pickup truck packed with 300 kilograms of into the reception of the Ghazala Gardens Hotel in Naama Bay. The officials, who declined to be identified, said the 15 people include bedouin tribesmen and Egyptians from the Sinai area, a barren peninsula covered by jagged mountains and desert ranges bordering the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Most of those on the list are believed to be at large and connected with last October's bombings of Sinai resorts farther north at Taba and Ras Shitan.

The officials said the 15 either carried out, planned or prepared the three pre-dawn attacks on the Ghazala, a nearby car park and an area popular with local Egyptians some three kilometers away called the Old Market.

The hunt for the culprits has been focusing heavily on villages and towns in the northern Sinai, where people linked to the Taba blast hailed from and thousands of potential suspects or relatives took place, angering many in the local community.

Security authorities are trying to find several Egyptian suspects who disappeared immediately after the October attacks and whose names have been mentioned in the investigations. Badran - a resident of Sheikh Zewaid, a town near Al-Arish in northern Sinai - fled his family house soon after the Taba attack, his stepmother, Mariam Hamad Salem al-Sawarka, said. Many of his relatives - including women - were arrested and tortured after he disappeared while a brother remains in custody, said Sawarka. Hours after the Sharm al-Sheikh blasts, police took DNA samples from Badran's relatives. - AP, AFP

How handy: Main suspect dies in shootout...

A main suspect in Egypt resort attacks killed in shootout with police

Maggie Michael, Associated Press - August 1, 2005 EGYPT0802

CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian police cornered a main suspect in the Sharm el-Sheik bombings in his mountain hideout today and killed him in a shootout that also fatally wounded his wife, authorities said.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is unauthorized to speak with the press, said the couple's 4-year-old daughter also was wounded. Police hunting Mohammed Saleh Flayfil, 30, a Bedouin wanted also in last year's bomb attacks at the Taba resorts in the Sinai, discovered evidence "that elements involved in these attacks were hiding out in a quarry in Mount Ataqaa,'' 17 miles east of the Cairo-Suez highway, the Interior Ministry said.

"Approaching the area in order to cordon it off, security officers were fired upon from the location, whereupon they immediately dealt with the attack,'' the statement said.

Flayfil was killed in the exchange of fire and his wife was wounded and taken to a hospital, the ministry said.

She died of her wounds and the daughter was also wounded in the shooting, the police official said.

Flayfil was being tried in absentia for the bombings in Taba in October that killed 34 people and was a main suspects among 15 wanted in the Sharm el-Sheik attacks of July 23. The death toll in the Sharm attacks stands at 64, but hospitals say bodies still uncounted could bring it up to 88.

Two car bombs and a bomb in a knapsack ripped through a luxury hotel, a neighborhood full of Egyptians and the entrance to a beach promenade in those attacks. Investigators are focusing on the likelihood that homegrown Islamic militant cells in Sinai, possibly with international links, carried out the bombings.

Flayfil was a brother of Suleiman Flayfil, 31, one of the Taba attackers, who reportedly died in one of the explosions when he detonated his charges prematurely.

In an interview last week Flayfil's father, Sheik Ahmed Flayfil, said his sons turned their backs on him in 1995 after adopting extremist Islamic ideology.

"No power on earth was able to take the poisonous ideas out of their minds,'' Sheik Ahmed said at the interview in his home in al-Medan, six miles west of the Sinai town of el-Arish. "It was very clear that they mixed with fanatic groups in el-Arish and were affected by dangerous people to the extent that they weren't obeying me or their tribe,'' he said.

Their eldest brother, Saleh Flayfil, said they'd tried to cross into Libya, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on several occasions, but that he lost touch with them in 1996.

The family is part of the al-Sawarka tribe. The Bedouin tribe decided Monday during a gathering that it would not avenge Flayfil's killing, a decision that means the Bedouin were punishing Flayfil for deviating from the tribe.

"Since the time the two disappeared, I've been angry with them,'' Sheik Ahmed said. - startribune.com

Egypt & Saudi seek control of bedouin culture...labelling them as terrorist when they see fit

To keep the tribes united behind the House of Saud, the rulers have used the religious hierarchy as the binding force. This arrangement received its first shock in the mid-1990s with the emergence of Osama bin Laden - a Saudi - as an heroic figure among the Saudi youth. The Saudi government understood the threat and offered bin Laden several truces, but bin Laden, through Prince Turki al-Faisal, the then Saudi intelligence chief, refused all overtures. Bin Laden's initial discontent with the ruling family stemmed from the stationing of foreign (US) soldiers on Saudi territory following the Gulf War of 1991.

Support for bin Laden increased multifold after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 in retaliation for the al-Qaeda-inspired attacks on the US. Bin Laden resided in Afghanistan, and numerous al-Qaeda training camps operated in that country.

However, the Saudi government's support of the US attack on Iraq last year killed any chance of reconciliation between al-Qaeda and the House of Saud, and from 2003 a series of organized attacks in the country began. And US pressure on Saudi Arabia to take hardline steps against the anti-US forces in the country derailed Saudi efforts to make al-Qaeda unpopular among common Saudi citizens.

Should this discontent break down the fragile unity of the tribal system in the country, Saudi Arabia will be in deep trouble. There are hundreds of tribes in Saudi Arabia, but tribal politics generally revolve around a few major tribes, which include:

Tameem, considered generally as rural (not Bedouin) and divided into many smaller clans. Located all over Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Arab world.

Otaibah, has probably the strongest tribal bonds. Considered generally as nomads (Bedouin) although many live in towns. They are located in the western part of Najd (an area in mid-Arabia) and the Taif area.

Qahtan, located in the southwest and southern Najd. Some are nomadic.

Mutair, in mid and eastern Najd, mostly nomadic.

Subai, in mid and western Najd, mostly nomadic.

Harb, in northwestern Najd and the Madinah area.

Anazah, in northern Arabia, mostly nomadic, some clans live in parts of mid-Najd, such as the al-Saud clan.

Ad-Dawaser, located in southern Najd and spread over other parts of Najd, they mostly live in towns or rural communities. The al-Sudari family belongs to this tribe.

Shammar, mostly in the Hail area (northern Najd). Half of them are nomadic. The house of al-Rasheed belongs to this tribe, they used to be rulers of Arabia before King Abulaziz took over Arabia. Al-Rashid and al-Sabhan are both from this tribe, and have marital relations with al-Saud.

Ya'am, in the Najran area and some parts of Najd. Al-Hethlain is a small clan of al-Ejman, which is also part of the Ya'am tribe. Al-Hethlain has marital ties with al-Saud.

Bani Shihr, Bani Amr, Balhmar and Balsmar, all related and living in the mountainous range (as-Sarawat) of southwestern Arabia. They live in towns or rural communities.

Ghamed and Zahran, they are related and located in al-Baha city in northern Sarawat. All live in towns or rural communities.

Shamran and Balgarn, in the mountainous range (as-Sarawat) in southwestern Arabia, all live in towns or rural communities.

Aseer and Rejal Al-Ma'a live in towns or rural communities in the southern part of al-Sarawat.

These are the major Saudi tribes, each with a population of about 100,000. Traditional bonds such as inter-marriages and prosperity in the Arabian peninsula have played a large role in pacifying disputes between the tribes, all gathered under the umbrella of the House of Saud.

However, there is a history of feuds between the House of Saud and the Shammar, the Mutair, the family of al-Aidh and many families in the Qaseem tribe. Several of these clans are believed to still bear a grudge against the ruling family.

Splits are now emerging in the pro-House of Saud (read pro-US) and anti-House of Saud (anti-US) tribes. The US invasion of Iraq and the recent offensive in Fallujah, whose residents are cousins to many Najad tribes, have further accentuated the divisions. This is reflected also among religious scholars, with 26 prominent ones coming out in support of the Iraqi resistance against the US, while under US pressure, state-run religious councils have condemned the Iraqi resistance. - energy bulletin

Gushing praise for King Fahd

Thousands of Saudis including myself have benefited from a free education of high-standards and were granted allowances for living, medication and travel costs. King Fahd believed that these aids would help us to fulfill our potential in education. He also assured that Saudi women are to be educated, through convincing students who study abroad to take their wives with them so that they too would have the privilege to study. Furthermore, the King allocated financial rewards for those who accompanied and studied with their husbands.

In the meantime, he ordered civil and military governmental institutions to send its employers abroad to train for certain jobs. He pushed for rapid development, transferred education and training and hence created a modern society. The majority of students returned home after studying abroad to work for and contribute to the development of their country. Furthermore, he brilliantly allocated land allotments for every graduate to build a house upon in order to encourage them to study at degree level. The truth is, King Fahd had built new cities, extended smaller cities and provided them with communication and transportation facilities even in suburban areas through a complicated and costly program. One can only understand the developmental transformation that happened if one had traveled all over the vast peninsula to observe the changes. Today, cities realize mixed populations of different regional background yet are brought together in the new modern country. This transformation entailed social, economic and political development enjoyed by all citizens. Out of the kingdom, he created a new country of a homogenous nature. This was a policy that he acquired from his late father, King Abdul Aziz, May God have mercy upon him, who not only fought alone in the battle of reconstructing Saudi Arabia, but settled the nomadic Bedouins of the country.

- Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - the general manager of Al -Arabiya television.

Note: Saudi women still do not have the right to vote...

profile of King Fahd


Wall Street is expected to open firmer with the week set to produce yet more impressive earnings while crude oil surging above $61 a barrel should help oil majors but worry the broader market

Flashback to commentry made in 1995 - King Fahd sits atop the world's largest family business. Yet it is a business in disarray--one that must now figure out how to divvy up a shrinking pie. The man himself is known to be terminally lazy--he sometimes doesn't look at urgent state papers for months on end--and he is widely recognized as a drunk, a womanizer, a gambler, and a man greedy for yet more billions.

The most dangerous internal threats are probably the princes. Since the death of Fahd's father, Ibn Saud, in 1953, the kingdom has had four of his sons as rulers. Now, doubtless bowing to internal pressure, the 73-year-old Fahd has declared that his successor need not be his 71-year-old half-brother, rather, the best prince should be chosen. The race is open, wide-open. And a wide-open race in Saudi Arabia may eventually come to mean that anything goes.


63 percent of Iraqis are Shi'ite and 95 percent of Iranians are Shi'ite. In Saudi Arabia the Sunnis are in the majority, with the Shi'ites constituting only 15 percent of the population. But curiously enough, the people who live in the Saudi oil regions are mostly Shi'ite. So the 2.5 million Saudis who have more than a passing allegiance to the brethren outside Saudi Arabia are concentrated in and around major oil fields. To King Fahd, a Sunni, and his horde of greedy princes, this is a disturbing thought.

We think of Saudi Arabia as a place that has been around a long time, one with an ancient national soul like Japan or Iran, but it is not. Look at world maps of a few decades ago and you'll see that there was no "Saudi Arabia," but rather an "Arabia Desert." The Saudi, a family of tribespeople, were Bedouins as nomadic as Okies, with herds of camels, sheep, and goats. They were first among equals in this desert, the guys with the biggest swords and the largest herds.

The chief of this tribe, Ibn Saud, Fahd's father, not only personally executed 18 rebellious tribal chiefs, but also chose his provincial governors for their fealty and their brutality. To tighten their grip on the kingdom, these governors executed 40,000 people and amputated the limbs of another 350,000--out of a population of 4 million.

As was their wont, the English threw in their lot with the winners and positioned them to run the country. The House of Saud enjoys no real affection from Arabians. Ibn Saud and his sons simply grabbed off and held the country's oil wealth to do with as they saw fit. True, the Saudi kings have distributed largesse to their subjects and neighbors, but only because it has been politically prudent. If they hadn't been bought off, the wrath of their fellow bedouins might have blown down the Tent of Saud.

- oilcrisis.com


But King Fahd has been greviously ILL For months...why would this inevitability make Oil Jump?

Although some sources say that he was declared clinically dead in April, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd officially died today, according to government sources.

This latest news will, most likely, supercede any coverage of Saudi involvement in the London Bombings. According to the New Zealand Business Review, news of Fahd's death is sending a shock through oil prices.

CNN reports that Fahd's death "Will not change Saudi oil policy". According to Reuters South Africa, "Fahd death lifts crude but dollar rally flags".

According to al Jazeera, world leaders are mourning King Fahd Prince Heir Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz had been appointed as the new monarch, and Defense Minister Sultan bin Abdel Aziz as the Prince Heir. Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who will take Abdullah's place as the next crown prince was, like our new Saudi ambassador, Prince Turki al-Faisal, named in a lawsuit by the 9/11 families for funding bin Laden.

More than 600 Cantor Fitzgerald employees were murdered on 9/11. Cantor Fitzgerald was one of the groups accusing Prince Turki and Prince Sultan of paying for murder.

Turki al-Faisal was appointed ambassador to Britain in 2002. A Saudi official denied the appointment was intended to give him diplomatic immunity to protect him from lawsuits.

The Star Tribune reports on the facts behind the Lawsuit against the new Saudi Crown Prince and the new Saudi Ambassador to the United States:

Matt Sellitto, whose 23-year-old son was among nearly 700 employees of the bond-trading firm of Cantor Fitzgerald who died in the World Trade Center, said the financiers "are more wrong" than the terrorists.

They "have the blood of my son on their hands, and the blood of more than 3,000 irreplaceable people on their hands," he said.

The suit says it seeks to respond "to this act of barbarism . . . with the collective voice of civilization."

Motley, who is nationally known for his legal triumphs over the asbestos and tobacco industries, said the suit will focus first on the alleged financiers' U.S. assets.

He said the case was aided by intelligence services from France and four other foreign governments, but with no help from the Justice Department. Motley is being assisted by Allan Gerson, who broke legal ground in pursuing the Libya case, a consortium of 10 law firms and Jean-Charles Brisard, who wrote exhaustively on the Bin Laden financial network for the French Parliament.

While the suit does not name the Saudi government, it names as defendants Saudi princes Muhammad al-Faisal; Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief; and Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the Saudi defense minister who also chairs Saudi Arabian Airlines, which does business in the United States. It also names Khalid bin Salim bin Mahfouz of the Saudi-based National Commercial Bank, the Faisal Islamic Bank and a web of banks, charities and individuals in several countries, many with alleged ties to terrorists.

The suit alleges that in 1995, under Turki, the Saudi Secret Services decided to give a large amount of financial support to the Taliban radical Islamic movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Citing a "nonpublished French intelligence report," it says that Saudi princes and business leaders met in Paris in 1996 and agreed to continue sponsoring Bin Laden's network.

And in July 1998, it says, at a meeting attended by Turki in Kandahar, Afghanistan, a deal was cut: Bin Laden and his followers would not subvert the Saudi government and, in return, the Saudis would "provide oil and generous financial assistance" to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the meeting, the suit says, 400 new pickup trucks bearing Saudi license plates arrived in Kandahar for the Taliban.

Since 1994, it alleges, Sultan has donated at least $6 million to Islamic charities that were sponsoring Bin Laden and Al-Qaida.

The 9/11 families' case was dropped, not due to a lack of evidence, but due to the fact that their jobs left Sultan and Turki immune from prosecution. As the judge said, "whatever their actions, they were performed in their official (government) capacities."

Whatever their actions, Sultan and Turki are now being handsomely rewarded for them. So goes the process of reform in Saudi Arabia.

- deanes world blog

New Saudi envoy to US is former spy chief

ISN SECURITY WATCH (21/07/05) - The Saudi government announced on Wednesday it would replace its ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, with the country's envoy to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who previously was his country's intelligence chief and in that capacity met several times with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The appointment comes at a crucial time for Saudi-US relations, which are once again on the upswing following tensions after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon near Washington, and a field in western Pennsylvania were identified as Saudi nationals. Much of the membership of al-Qaida, the group blamed for the attacks, was also Saudi, as was bin Laden.

The Saudi government was accused of not doing enough to crack down on Islamic militancy within the country. It also was accused of financing Islamic religious schools (madrassas), worldwide, which churned out youths who would take up arms to fight alongside their Muslim brothers in Kashmir, Chechnya, and Bosnia.

Turki, who was the Saudi intelligence chief until one month before the 9/11 attacks, had maintained close ties with bin Laden and much of al-Qaida's leadership. By his own admission, he met them on several occasions in the 1980s, during the US-backed war on Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Those links are now believed to be severed, and Turki has since described al-Qaida as "an evil cult".

In 1998, he tried - unsuccessfully - to have bin Laden extradited from Afghanistan where the al-Qaida leader was living at the time.

When asked about Turki's links to terror groups and bin Laden, US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters on Wednesday the issue was no longer relevant.

"I think those issues have been dealt with," he said. "And we expect that he will be the representative of the government of Saudi Arabia, and we look forward to working with him as the representative of the government of Saudi Arabia," he said.

Turki, who is 60 years old, was appointed Saudi intelligence chief in 1977. He was replaced in August 2001. Since January 2003, he has served as the kingdom's envoy to London.

Relations on the mend

Relations with Washington are on the mend primarily because of the Saudi crackdown on militant groups. Last year, Saudi Arabia was the scene of several attacks on Western targets, but over the past six months has captured or killed a number of al-Qaida members, including its top leadership.

Those victories, along with some minor political reforms pushed by the Bush administration as part of its agenda to press for political change in the broader Middle East, has helped mend ties.

Turki replaces Bandar, the dean of Washington's diplomatic corps, who was seen as a close confidant of several US presidents, lawmakers, and policymakers. He was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years and played a key role in the first Gulf War when Saudi Arabia sided with the US to expel Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait.

The Saudi government announced the decision in a statement, but provided no reason for Bandar's resignation. President Bush, in a statement, wished him a "fond farewell".

"In troubled times US presidents past and present have relied upon Ambassador Bandar's advice," Bush said. "In good times, they have enjoyed his wit, charm, and humor. Throughout his tenure Ambassador Bandar has remained a close, steadfast friend to the United States."

At the State Department, Ereli called him "a great friend and valued adviser, valued confidant of many secretaries of State, as well as other State Department officials who have worked on behalf of this very important relationship".

He said he did not expect the relationship between the two countries to change now that Bandar, a staunch advocate of closer ties with the US, was leaving.

"That relationship is going to continue to evolve and continue to grow and continue to develop with a new ambassador," Ereli said. "And I wouldn't expect the departure of Bandar or the arrival of Prince Turki to cause a blip in how we deal with each other."

Turki was born in the holy city of Mecca and is the brother of Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. He was educated at Princeton and Georgetown Universities in the US, and at Cambridge in Britain. - isn.ethz.ch

Queen sends condolences to her 'colonies'

Britain's Queen sends condolences to Saudi Arabia

Aug 2, 2005, 16:17 GMT Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has sent her condolences to Saudi Arabia following the death of the country's King Fahd. The monarch said she was sad to hear the 84-year-old King has died yesterday (01.08.05).

A statement issued on her behalf read: "The Queen was saddened to hear of the death of King Fahd, who led Saudi Arabia with wisdom and skill for 22 years. "During his reign Britain and Saudi Arabia enjoyed a very close relationship. The Queen extends her best wishes to King Abdullah and looks forward to strengthening the bonds that link our two countries."

The Queen's son, the Prince of Wales, is travelling to Saudi Arabia Tuesday (02.08.05) to pass on the Royal family's condolences about the monarch, who had been frail since suffering a stroke in 1995. The heir to the British throne will "convey the British Queen Elizabeth's and his condolences" to the Saudi Royal family, a spokesman for the Princes London residence Clarence House said.

It is also expected that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will fly to Saudi Arabia to pass on the country's condolences to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia upon the death of King Fahd, the Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines.

Blair said in a statement: "King Fahd was a man of great vision and leadership who inspired his countrymen for a quarter of a century as king, and for many more before that."

BANG Media International

Bush / Blairs priorities become clear

Abdullah invested as new King

August 04, 2005 - Saudi Arabia's numerous princes and religious, tribal and armed forces leaders pledged their allegiance to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz yesterday in a ceremony that sealed his succession after King Fahd's death on Monday.

Earlier, King Abdullah, 82, had received foreign dignitaries, including the Prince of Wales, in a separate room in the marbled Qafr al-Hakim palace, in Riyadh, where they paid their respects and offered condolences for the late King.

Tony Blair flew in yesterday afternoon and was to be followed by an American delegation led by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President.

The investiture ceremony, a Saudi Islamic tradition known as bayaa, bore no resemblance to a coronation. Amid chaotic scenes, thousands of men, led by members of the Saudi Royal Family, streamed past King Abdullah, some saluting, others shaking his hand and many kissing him on the shoulder or hand in a traditional sign of respect and loyalty.

The bayaa gives King Abdullah full legitimacy, although he had already been de facto ruler for a decade after King Fahd suffered a stroke. - Times

related: Saudis push for reforms - Bedouin history to be rewritten

New Saudi King expected to push reforms

02/08/2005 - 07:20:24 King Abdullah has taken the throne in a swift and smooth succession for this US ally and oil giant after the death of his long-ailing half brother. Abdullah, the de facto ruler for a decade, is expected to consolidate his power and could open the door for younger, more modern princes to play a role in government.

King Fahd, the country's absolute monarch since 1982 until he was debilitated by a 1995 stroke, died early yesterday at the age of 84 after nearly two months in a Riyadh hospital. The mechanism of succession moved quickly along tracks laid down long before: the 81-year-old Abdullah stepped in as king, while Fahd's brother, Defence Minister Prince Sultan, 77, took up the position of crown prince and next in line to the throne.

Abdullah has been the main force behind unprecedented reform steps and a heavy crackdown on al-Qaida-linked militants following a series of terror attacks in May 2003.

Now armed with the power of the throne after years in the more tenuous position of de facto ruler, Abdullah will likely move to put allies into key positions and push forward on the reform and anti-terror tracks. But he must tread carefully: a clan of his half-brothers in Saudi Arabia's sprawling royal family hold key defence and security posts and may resist swift change. And the orderliness of transition disguised what could be, on the long-term, a major shift in the kingdom, which holds the world's largest reserves of oil and is a key hotspot in the war on terror.

Few expect the current generation of rulers - the sons of Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, the Bedouin chief who welded the kingdom together under his name in 1932 - to hold the throne as long as Fahd did. That opens the door to the next generation of numerous grandsons. Beyond Sultan, there is no clear line of succession.

Meanwhile, Saudis were preparing to bury their longest-ruling monarch - a 23-year reign. Fahd's funeral, set for today, was to be a mix of the austerity dictated by Saudi Arabia's puritanical Wahhabi version of Islam and the grandiosity befitting a kingdom whose oil riches fuelled investment across the Middle East and Islamic world.

Numerous Arab leaders - including Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah - were set to attend. They will attend prayers for the dead at one of Riyadh's main mosques in the afternoon (3:30pm local; 12:30GMT). By late yesterday, hotels were packed as Saudis flocked to the capital to express their condolences to the royal family and congratulate the new king.

But Fahd was to be buried in an unmarked grave - the tradition in Wahhabism, which discourages the visiting of gravesites - in Riyadh cemetery alongside previous kings and commoners.

State-run television ran Quranic verses in mourning, and Information Minister Iyad bin Amin Madani's voice wavered with emotion as he announced Fahd's death yesterday morning. "With all sorrow and sadness, the royal court ... announces the death of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz."

Shoppers were out in the streets of Riyadh on Monday night, and shops were open for business, as many Saudis said they had long been expecting the long-ailing Fahd's death. "We will all pray for Fahd, who was a father figure to us all," said Ibrahim al-Qahtani, who was shopping at a Riyadh mall with his children.

Abdullah emphasised stability, issuing a decree that all ministers would stay in their current positions. But the coming months, he will likely be watched carefully for signs he is strengthening his position in the complicated, behind-the-scenes politics of Saudi Arabia's royal family.

Abdullah is the half-brother of a close-knit circle of brothers known as the "Sudairi Seven" - after their mother - who included Fahd and who held key positions during the late monarch's reign. Sultan, the new crown prince and still in charge of the Defence Ministry, is one of the seven brothers. So is Interior Minister Prince Nayef, head of the internal security forces, and Prince Salman, the powerful governor of Riyadh. Abdullah, who had a different mother, heads the National Guard, a once largely ceremonial unit he built into a modern 75,000-strong force as a counterweight to the army.

The Sudairi Seven, with close ties to the kingdom's conservative Islamic clerics, have been criticised by some as too slow to crack down on militant groups and to introduce political reforms. The next generation of royals may also be itching for a greater role - including the sons of Abdullah and the Sudairis. One key post to watch will be that of intelligence minister, empty since another half brother stepped down in January.

Prince Bandar, the son of Sultan and the urbane Saudi ambassador to Washington for two decades until last month, has been rumoured as one candidate for the post. But Abdullah may seek to install someone closer to himself. Abdullah may also have to strike deals with the Sudairis and other half-brothers to push forward on reform and the terror crackdown. His main step so far was to call the kingdom's first ever election - a vote earlier this year for local councils.

With the authority of the throne, he can push for more and heighten an anti-corruption campaign he began over the past decade.

"Now the political vacuum is over. We have one monarch and more decisiveness in the realm of reform. The world will witness positive changes in Saudi Arabia," said Turki al-Hamad, a newspaper columnist and political scientist. "Things that took many years to be decided will only take months."

Unlike Fahd, Abdullah did not see the fate of his kingdom intertwined with the decades-old alliance with the United States. But once he became the kingdom's de facto leader, he was pragmatic enough to preserve close ties with the US.

He understood he had to initiate changes in his country after the Sept. 11 attacks, carried out by 19 Arab hijackers, 15 of them Saudi. US and Western pressure on Saudi Arabia to reform was immense. - IOL

Cheney, Powell meet new Saudi king

By Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press | August 6, 2005
[notice the wishful thinking as the reporter calls GW Bush 'the former' president']

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A US delegation led by Vice President Dick Cheney called on King Abdullah yesterday, a visit intended to show the importance Washington attaches to close ties with oil power Saudi Arabia. Cheney, former president George H. W. Bush, and former secretary of state Colin L. Powell offered condolences on the death Monday of the new monarch's half brother, King Fahd.

Reporters were barred from the meeting at the king's farm outside Riyadh, but the official Saudi Press Agency said the group discussed Iraq, bilateral relations, and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Cheney invited Abdullah to visit President Bush at the White House, the agency said.

Spain's King Juan Carlos, a longtime friend of Fahd, also met yesterday with Abdullah, who embraced him warmly in footage broadcast on Spanish television.

Saudi Arabia is a major US ally in the Middle East. As crown prince, Abdullah worked to repair ties strained by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, in which 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudis. The Bush family has had close ties with the Saudi royal family for decades. After Abdullah's investiture Wednesday, Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said he expected US-Saudi relations to continue improving. On Thursday, Prince Salman, Abdullah's half brother and governor of Riyadh, said relations between the nations were ''strong but sometimes troubled."

''The two leaderships pretty well know that their relations are strategic because they are based on mutual interests," Salman told journalists.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have maintained strategic ties based on oil for security since 1945, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt met Abdullah's father, Abdel-Aziz bin Saud.

The strength of the relationship was demonstrated in the 1991 Gulf War when Cheney, then defense secretary, and Powell, then head of the US armed forces, persuaded Fahd to allow the deployment of American forces in the kingdom as part of the campaign to expel the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. The deployment was strongly opposed by radical Islamic Saudis, such as Al Qaeda terror leader Osama bin Laden. - boston.com


King Fahd in Marbella

King Fahd arrived in Marbella in the 1970s, when it was a relatively small resort making a name for itself as a luxury alternative to France's Côte d'Azur.

Even then his visits were legendary, with casinos reportedly issuing unlimited credit to gambling princes and rumours of thousand dollar tips.

Fahd began buying up land around the town's Golden Mile - one of the most expensive strips of real estate in Spain - bringing an influx of fellow Gulf potentates with him.

The former Saudi king made only four visits to Marbella after his palace was built, but they are remembered for the millions of petrodollars suddenly spread around a town of 125,000 people.

King Fahd arrived in Marbella in the 1970s, when it was a relatively small resort making a name for itself as a luxury alternative to France's Côte d'Azur. Even then his visits were legendary, with casinos reportedly issuing unlimited credit to gambling princes and rumours of thousand dollar tips. Fahd began buying up land around the town's Golden Mile - one of the most expensive strips of real estate in Spain - bringing an influx of fellow Gulf potentates with him.

The former Saudi king made only four visits to Marbella after his palace was built, but they are remembered for the millions of petrodollars suddenly spread around a town of 125,000 people.


The king's death comes as Marbella is suffering a growing reputation as a hangout for international crooks and money launderers. A drive-by shooting involving French underworld members ended in the death of a seven-year-old boy and an Italian hairdresser last summer.

[my comment: No it's been like that since the 60's]

Already this year police have made several arrests of major international drug smugglers and money launderers.

- Gaurdian

4,000 lbs. of cocaine on a Saudi Arabian prince's private jet.

Two Convicted In Cocaine Plot

May 4, 2005 - A US court today convicted two people of smuggling two tonnes of Colombian cocaine to France on a Saudi Arabian prince's private jet. Prosecutors said they would keep trying to bring the prince to trial. Assistant US Attorney Jacqueline Arango said Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawwaz al-Shaalan, who is believed to have been in Saudi Arabia since US authorities charged him in 2002, was "a significant member of the conspiracy".

"The prosecution in this case is not over and we will continue to aggressively pursue all leads in this case and prosecute all individuals charged in this case," Ms Arango said.

The two people convicted in the Miami court were al-Shaalan's one-time girlfriend, real estate broker Doris Mangeri Salazar, and a Colombian accomplice, Ivan Lopez Vanegas. They will be sentenced on July 15 and face a maximum of life in prison for helping a Colombian cocaine cartel smuggle $US30 million ($38.55 million) worth of cocaine from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, to Paris in 1999.

US prosecutors allege that in meetings stretching from Miami to Marbella in Spain and the Arabian desert, al-Shaalan offered to use his diplomatic immunity to bring the cocaine into France undetected. In return, he agreed to share the profits from the drug deal with the Colombians.

The deal went sour when Spanish police seized part of the shipment. French police later found more of the cocaine haul at a stash house in Paris.

The United States is also seeking the extradition from Spain of banker Jose Maria Clemente, whom it accuses of planning to sell the cocaine in Europe. Salazar was arrested in July 2002 by Drug Enforcement Administration agents who found her hiding in a bedroom closet at her home. DEA agents seized photographs from her safe that show all four defendants meeting in 1998 with the Colombian traffickers in a tented compound set up by al-Shaalan in the Saudi desert...Ms Arango said the US authorities would continue to pursue al-Shaalan but acknowledged the United States and Saudi Arabia do not have an extradition treaty. Saudi diplomats have previously contested descriptions linking al-Shaalan to the royal family in the oil-rich kingdom.US authorities insist he is a Saudi prince although not in direct accession to the throne. Telegraph via FPI

Tony Blair on Family Holiday in Egypt

London (ANTARA News) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair began a family holiday Monday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, a spokesman for his Downing Street office said.

No further details of the visit were given other than that the family was paying its own transport and accommodation costs.

"The Prime Minister is now on holiday for a short winter break," a spokesman added.

Blair`s holiday travel plans are not normally released for security reasons.

But a decision was taken to confirm the trip to Egypt following criticism earlier this year when the media were urged not to reveal details of his free stay at British singer Sir Cliff Richard`s villa in Barbados.

Some 70 people were left dead, including more than a dozen foreigners, when three suicide bombers hit Sharm el-Sheikh on July 23. (*) - antara

Blair [the twat pictured above trying to look cool] on Holiday in Egypt as Police give him a show of 'power' - his previous jaunts include Berlusconi / Strozzis villas in Italy & Cliff Richards resort in Barbados

Dec 2005 - Tony plays away - "cheap holidays in other peoples misery"

TONY Blair is on holiday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The Blairs have been regular visitors to the Red Sea resort which has long been popular with winter sun-seekers and diving enthusiasts. In July, terrorist bombs in the town left more than 60 dead - including 11 Britons. The Egyptian authorities have begun to build a 12-mile-long security fence in Sharm, part of an attempt to restore its reputation as a world-class holiday destination. Once completed, the fence will have only four access points, each monitored by Egyptian police and security forces. The president, Hosni Mubarak, maintains a large villa in the town and its numerous hotels 'have attracted' a number of Middle East peace summits.

[have attracted??? try - have got their snouts in the corporate warcrimes for greed & power slavery schemes trough]

Meanwhile: At least 10 people are dead after Riot Police beat refugees, including women and children, dragged them out of the square and forced them onto buses. Police flooded the neighborhood with about 5,000 officers in full riot gear, armed with truncheons, cordoned off the area a little before midnight local time. After a night-long standoff outside the improvised refugee camp situated in an upscale Cairo neighborhood, the State Goons then stormed & indiscriminately attacked the migrants... Ambulances raced to tend to the wounded, at least one small child is among those killed.

Egypt spills beans on Blair holiday hat-trick

Downing Street's annual attempt to keep the Prime Minister's holiday plans secret foundered yesterday when the Egyptian government confirmed that for the third year running the Blairs will take their New Year break on the Red Sea. The prospect of Mr Blair and his family lending their support to the struggling Egyptian holiday market was too much for the country's tourism minister. No 10 had refused to say which hot spot the Blairs would choose this year for their winter sun break. They claim to want to protect the family's privacy.

But Lila Habid, Egypt's under-secretary for tourism, could not contain her excitement when asked if the rumours were true. "He [Mr Blair] will be in Sharm el-Sheikh. We are respecting his privacy," she said, seemingly unaware of the contradiction. "It's very good news. When a very important person comes here for the third year running, it shows we are a safe and a beautiful destination."

No 10 refused to confirm that the Blair family will leave for Sharm on Boxing Day - or, indeed, that they are going there at all.

But they are known to like Sharm, a modern and slightly soulless resort on the Sinai peninsula, because it is warm and convenient. It has wonderful snorkelling, diving and other sporting facilities.

In the past, they have stayed in a villa beside the Tower Club hotel close to the sea and long sandy beaches. Inland is striking mountain scenery. A day-trip away is Mount Sinai and the famous Greek Orthodox monastery of St Catherine. During their previous visits the Blairs have flown to see the Pyramids and the temples at Luxor. But they have always stayed overnight in Sharm. An exclusion zone is always thrown around their villa. Sharm is remote but not too far away. If the Prime Minister needs to dash back, he is just five hours or so from London.

posted on Sunday, September 11th, 2005 - toureEgypt

Blair takes holiday in Egypt

ANGUS HOWARTH 27th Dec 2005

TONY Blair has begun a family holiday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. No 10 gave no further details of the visit, other than to say that the Blairs were paying all their own transport and accommodation costs. The Blairs have been regular visitors to the Red Sea resort which has long been popular with winter sun-seekers and diving enthusiasts.

In July, terrorist bombs in the town left more than 60 dead - including 11 Britons.

The Egyptian authorities have begun to build a 12-mile-long security fence in Sharm, part of an attempt to restore its reputation as a world-class holiday destination. Once completed, the fence will have only four access points, each monitored by Egyptian police and security forces.

The president, Hosni Mubarak, maintains a large villa in the town and its numerous hotels have attracted a number of Middle East peace summits.

The decision to confirm that Mr Blair is in Egypt follows widespread criticism in summer when No 10 urged the media not disclose details of the family's stay at Sir Cliff Richard's villa in Barbados. No 10 cited security reasons, but some opposition MPs suspected Mr Blair was trying to avert criticism of his free holiday. - scotsman

AL-SALAM 98 sinks

Capacity: 1,487

Built: Italy 1970

Length: 118m (388ft)

Gross tonnage: 11,779t

Owner: El-Salam Maritime

During the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab States, the American intelligence ship The USS liberty was attacked for 75 minutes in international waters by Israeli aircraft and motor torpedo boats. Thirty-four men died and 174 were wounded.


2002: Joola, Senegal, more than 1,800

1996: Bukoba, Tanzania, more than 500

1994: Estonia, Estonia, 852

1991: Salem Express, Egypt, 464

1987: Dona Paz, Philippines, 4,375

1954: Toya Maru, Japan, 1,172

1948: Kiangya, China, 3,920

1912: Titanic, UK, 1,503 killed

Egyptian ferry sinks in Red Sea

A ferry carrying about 1,400 people, most of them Egyptians, has sunk in the Red Sea.

Fourteen bodies and about 100 survivors have so far been pulled from the water, Egyptian officials said. The al-Salam Boccaccio '98 went down about 80km (50 miles) off the Egyptian coast during an overnight journey from Duba in Saudi Arabia to Safaga. Rescue boats and helicopters are searching the area, but are being hampered by poor weather.

The cause of the sinking is not known, but there were high winds when it left Duba. The ship was carrying 1,310 passengers and 96 Egyptian crew, Jan Maher, a spokesman for the ship's Egyptian company, el-Salam Maritime Transport, told the BBC. Most of the passengers were Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia, but some were said to be pilgrims returning from Mecca.

There were about 100 people from other countries, including Saudis and Sudanese, Capt Maher said. "We don't know how many casualties there are or how the ship sank," he said.

The head of administration at el-Salam Maritime Transport, Adel Shukri, said he was not aware of any SOS from the crew. The 35-year-old ship had been due to arrive at Safaga at about 0300 local time (0100 GMT).


Four Egyptian frigates were looking for survivors, said Egyptian Transport Minister Mohammed Lutfy Mansour.

Britain has sent the warship HMS Bulwark to help and it will arrive in a day-and-a-half, the Royal Navy said.

A spokesman for the Egyptian embassy in London, Ayman al-Kaffas, said there was "a vast area of water" for the rescue operation to cover.

Asked about the delay in the disappearance being reported, he said the rescue operation had started just after midnight, within an hour or an hour-and-a-half of the ship going missing.

The general manager of the Saudi branch of maritime insurance company Lloyds said the ship had met all safety requirements. "The vessel was well equipped with all lifeboats and all her certificates were valid, " Nizam Siddiqui said. He ruled out the possibility of a collision with another ship, saying the other vessel would have reported the incident.

Shipping expert Paul Beaver told the BBC that overloading should not have been a problem. There was a possibility one or more of the vehicles the ship was transporting could have moved, particularly in bad weather, he said.

A sister ship of the al-Salam '98 sank in the Red Sea in October after a collision. Two people were killed and 40 injured. BBC

Egypt rebuffs Rice on Hamas boycott

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Wednesday, 22 February: 17.09 CET) –

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday after Egyptian officials made it clear that their country would refuse to cut its ties with Hamas.

Referring to Hamas, Rice told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday, "You cannot have one foot in the camp of terror and another foot in the camp of politics." She said that the international community expected Hamas to recognize Israel.

Rice added, "Egypt is an important voice at this time of change and choice for the Palestinian people."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said: "We should give Hamas time," adding, "I'm sure that Hamas will develop, will evolve. We should not prejudge the issue."

Egypt has opposed US calls for a boycott of the incoming Hamas-led Palestinian government, following the militant Islamic movement's sweeping victory in last month's Palestinian Legislative Council elections.

"The United States still haven't learnt that the language of threats doesn't work with Hamas," a spokesperson for the movement, Mohammed Nazzal told reporters. "The more the United States pressure Hamas, the more the Palestinian people will support Hamas," he claimed.

Iran announced on Wednesday that it was willing to provide funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA), to replace revenues lost through Israel's decision this week to withhold tax payments to the PA. The US is also encouraging the international community to withdraw aid pledges to the PA. - isn.ethz.ch

April 2006: Alert! Karl Rove now has more time to invent terror scares!

Emporer Bush Reorganises his fellow nazi cronies in a savvy political move to focus Republican attention on the forthcoming elections...

of course - this itself is a distraction from the Iran distraction away from that nasty Iraq situation!

so..what'll it be? yet another Nuke terror scare? Biological threat? anthrax? Al Queda from within...? Zarkawi? The Russians...The Chinese? an Asteriod? Martians?

April 2006 - Osama Bin Laden pops up again!

IOL reports that Osama bin Laden issued an ominous new statement on Al-Jazeera television, appearing to justify attacks on civilians in the West.

"I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. "While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us," bin Laden said in an audio tape.

The al-Qaida chief, who last issued a message via the satellite television broadcaster on January 19, said the people of Western countries were equally responsible with their governments for what he called "a Zionist (Jewish) crusaders (Christian) war on Islam."

The Neocon / Likud propaganda outlet runs with the headline: Bin Laden: Hamas blockade proves West at war with Islam "I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.

Egypt bombings revive al-Qaida terror fears

25/04/2006 - - IOL - Three nearly simultaneous bombings hit a Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners yesterday, killing at least 23 people on streets filled with holiday-makers and Egyptians enjoying a long weekend marking a national holiday.

The early-evening bombings in the Sinai seaside city of Dahab blew out storefronts along a crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars.

One bomb exploded outside a jewellery store called Mona Lisa, knocking out letters from the sign.

Interior Minister Habib el-Adly said those killed included 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. Sixty-two people were wounded.

The explosions came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms to Muslims to support al-Qaida in fighting what he calls a war against Islam.

The bombings - the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years - hit Dahab at 7:15pm when the streets were busy with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Aqaba.

"There were just three loud bangs and people rushing around," British tourist Paul McBeath told Sky News. "Everybody is shaken."

Another witness said the Al Capone restaurant, one of the area's most popular spots, was destroyed. "The tables and chairs have gone, there is nothing left," said Joseph Nazir, who owns a safari company in Dahab. "Everybody is panicking. A lot of people are crying. We will be affected by this for a long, long time."

Hani Sadeq, 24, who worked at the Mona Lisa store, said: "I thought the power generator had blown up. We ran toward the scene and we found people, our friends, lying on the ground. Some were already dead."Some were alive, with arms broken. We took them to the hospital. We want to know why did this happen, I wish we knew who did it. If I saw him, I would tear him apart." Looking up at a shrapnel-scarred hotel, Sadeq said: "Dahab is dead now."

Ahmed al-Tabakh, 23, who works at a nearby store, said the bombs struck Dahab's main Mazbat street. "This street is the life of Dahab. This is the street that attracts tourists," he said.

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring.

The attacks came a day before Sinai Liberation Day, a national holiday marking the return of the peninsula to Egypt from Israel as a result of the 1979 peace treaty. For years, Dahab was a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving and cheap hotels, which mainly consisted of huts set up along the beach. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort.

At least three Israelis were hurt in the attack, which sent a steady stream of cars back to Israel some 100 kilometres to the north. Israeli authorities said 1,800 of their citizens were in the Sinai at the time of the blasts. However, there were far fewer Israelis vacationing in Sinai than during last week's Passover holiday.

Israel's ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, said the Israeli government had warned repeatedly against visiting the Sinai.

"Unfortunately, the warnings came true," he told Israel's Channel 10 TV. President Hosni Mubarak, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, called the blasts a "sinful terrorist action".

US President George Bush also condemned the attacks.

"Today we saw again that the terrorists are willing to try to define the world the way they want to see it," Bush said in Las Vegas.

The Interior Ministy said the wounded included 42 Egyptians and 20 foreigners while police put the number of wounded at more than 150. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained. Police said one Russian and one Swiss were among the dead. El-Adly would not confirm those nationalities. An interior ministry official who refused to give his name because he was not authorised to speak to the media said one of the dead foreigners was a German child. He said the injured foreigners included three British citizens, three Danish, two Italians, two French, two Germans, one Korean, one Lebanese, one Palestinian, one American and at least one Australian.

Terrorist attacks have killed nearly 100 people at several tourist resorts in the Sinai Peninsula in the past two years. Bombings in the resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, near the Israeli border, killed 34 people in October 2004. Suicide attackers in July in the resort of Sharm el-Sheik killed at least 64 people, mainly tourists.

The Egyptian government has said the militants who carried out the bombings were locals without international connections, but other security agencies have said they suspect al-Qaida.

In Washington, a US counterterrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in compliance with office policy, said it was unclear who was behind yesterday's attack. Officials there have not ruled out al-Qaida involvement, but have no evidence showing that is the case, the official said. Nor do they have any evidence that bin Laden's tape was linked to the attack.

Bruce Hoffman, a RAND terrorism expert, agreed in a telephone interview from Washington. "It's an extraordinarily short turnaround - it's impossible to say at this point."

Hoffman said Egypt was one of the most proficient Middle Eastern countries in dealing with terrorist groups, so this attack showed "how adept and innovative these groups are. "It may be that the Sinai Peninsula is (Egypt's) Achilles Heel. They've gone up and down the coast and hit the main tourist resorts," Hoffman said.

In his taped warning on Sunday, bin Laden accused the United States and Europe of supporting a "Zionist" war on Islam by cutting off funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-run Palestinian Cabinet, condemned yesterday's bombings as a "criminal attack which is against all human values. We denounce the attack, which harmed the Egyptian national security".

By contrast, Hamas had refused to condemn last week's bombing that killed nine people in an Israeli fast-food restaurant. After yesterday's attack, Egyptian television footage showed body parts scattered on the streets, bloodstained pavement and destroyed shops littered with broken glass.

Jamie Gibbs, a Briton, told Sky News that the streets of Dahab were chaotic after the bombings so he and a friend walked back to their rooms along the beach. "We met a couple of Egyptians we know, and one was crying. He had lost one of his friends - he died," Gibbs said. "And everyone is very upset because of their livelihoods. If the tourists stop coming they're going to be poorer than they already are."

3 Arrested in Egyptian Resort Bombings

By MARIAM FAM, Associated Press - 25th April 2006 - DAHAB, Egypt -

Police arrested three people Tuesday in the triple bomb attack that ripped apart a Sinai beach resort promenade at the height of Egypt's tourist season, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 60, many of them foreigners.

The arrests took place near the scene of Monday's bloody attack in the town of Dahab, but police did not immediately provide any further information, including whether the suspects were locals, or had connections with international terror groups.

The nearly simultaneous blasts were so powerful they blew out storefronts along the crowded promenade of shops, restaurants and bars and sent body parts flying into the nearby Gulf of Aqaba. Hours after the bombings, shards of glass lay in piles along with white tiles stained with bloody footprints.

The explosions came a day after Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms to Muslims to support al-Qaida in fighting what he calls a war against Islam.

It was also the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years to coincide with a national holiday in Egypt.

Hotels and guesthouses were filled with foreigners and with Egyptians celebrating the long Coptic Christian Easter weekend that coincided this year with Shem al-Nessim, the ancient holiday marking the first day of spring. The attacks also came a day before Sinai Liberation Day, a national holiday marking the return of the peninsula to Egypt from Israel as a result of the 1979 peace treaty.

The bombings hit Dahab at 7:15 p.m. when the streets were jammed with tourists strolling, shopping or looking for a restaurant or bar for evening festivities by the tranquil waters. One of the bombs exploded outside a seaside restaurant called Al Capone, a popular dinner spot. A second bomb went off outside a supermarket and jewelry store. The third detonated at the entrance to a bridge.

Security forces were searching the wreckage for clues. It was not immediately known if the explosions were caused by suicide bombers or bombs on timers.

Outside the supermarket that was targeted, a tiny shoe covered in blood lay on top of a baby stroller. Moments before the attack, a woman who appeared to be European carried one of her twin infants into the store and left the other outside in the stroller, said Mohammed Emad, 16, who sells spices at the market. The baby outside survived, but the other twin died and the mother was severely injured, Emad said. "I pushed the stroller away out of the doorway" after the blast, he said.

Another witness said tourists didn't know where to run as the blasts kept coming.

"I heard the first bomb, I started running. When I heard the second one, we were still running," said Johanna Sarjas, a journalist from Finland who was on vacation. "It was chaotic because we didn't know in which direction to run. You didn't know where the next bomb would come from."

Interior Minister Habib el-Adly put the death toll at 23, including 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. But Sinai hospital officials said Tuesday that an Egyptian man had died of his wounds, bringing the toll to 24. More than 60 people were wounded, including many Westerners.

One of the dead was a German child, according to the Egyptian Interior Ministry and the German Foreign Ministry. Police said one Russian and one Swiss were also killed, but el-Adly would not confirm those nationalities.

At least three Israelis were hurt in the attack, which sent a steady stream of cars back to Israel some 65 miles to the north. Israeli authorities said 1,800 of their citizens were in the Sinai at the time, far fewer than during last week's Passover holiday.Israel's ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, said the Israeli government had warned repeatedly against visiting the Sinai. "Unfortunately, the warnings came true," he told Israel's Channel 10 TV.

Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-run Palestinian Cabinet, called the bombings a "criminal attack which is against all human values. We denounce the attack, which harmed the Egyptian national security." By contrast, Hamas had refused to condemn last week's bombing that killed nine people in an Israeli fast-food restaurant.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, called the blasts a "sinful terrorist action."

President Bush also condemned the attacks. "Today we saw again that the terrorists are willing to try to define the world the way they want to see it," he said in Las Vegas. The European Union condemned the bombings as "despicable" and leaders across Europe said they were standing with the Egyptian government against terrorist attacks.

Terrorist attacks have killed nearly 100 people at several tourist resorts in the Sinai Peninsula in the past two years - all timed to coincide with major holidays in Egypt.

Bombings in the resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, near the Israeli border, killed 34 people in October 2004, a day before a holiday marking the start of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Suicide attackers killed 64 people - mainly tourists - in an attack on the resort of Sharm el-Sheik last July. It happened on the day Egyptians commemorate the 1952 revolution overthrowing the king.

The Egyptian government has said the militants who carried out the previous bombings were locals without international connections, but other security agencies have said they suspect al-Qaida. El-Adly said it wasn't immediately clear if Monday's attack could have been carried out by a group as organized as those who detonated the earlier bombs. "The devices used were not of the types which would have caused big destruction," he said.

In Jerusalem, Brig. Gen. Elkana Har Nof, an official at the Israel prime minister's counterterrorism department, told Israel Radio that the Sinai coast is likely to continue being targeted, in part because it is a key link in Egypt's economy. "The coast combines all the elements that are a target, especially for global jihad," he said. He praised Egyptian officials for doing "an enormous job" of arresting many extremists after the last attacks, but said: "I don't think they cleaned out all of them, and new members have been drafted. And therefore Sinai remains a target."

In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in compliance with office policy, said it was unclear who was behind Monday's attack. Officials there have not ruled out al-Qaida involvement, but have no evidence showing that is the case, the official said. Nor do they have any evidence that bin Laden's tape was linked to the attack.

Dahab, which means "gold" in Arabic, was for years a popular, low-key haven for young Western and Israeli backpackers drawn by prime scuba diving and cheap hotels. In recent years, a number of more upscale hotels have been built, including a five-star Hilton resort. Those who work in the town fear the attacks will drive tourists away - for good.

"The scene out there was horrific," said Mohammed Gadallah, a 27-year-old Egyptian from the Nile Delta region who works at a hotel coffee shop near the bridge bomb. "I don't know who could have done this - they are people who know no religion and have no conscious. We have left our homes and families and come here to make a living. ... It looks like we'll be going back home."

Zarqawi back on video

In a rare video posted on the Internet, al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and said any government formed in Iraq would be merely a "stooge." He also mocked the U.S. military in Iraq for what he called suicides, drug-taking and mutinies, and he warned that "worse" attacks were to come. The video, released just days after Iraq named a new prime minister and a high-profile audiotape from bin Laden appeared on Arab TV, seemed a deliberate attempt by al-Zarqawi to claim the spotlight again following months of taking a lower profile. It also came just one day after a triple bombing at a resort in Egypt that killed at least 24 people, including 21 Egyptians and three foreigners. The video was believed the first to show al-Zarqawi's face. The bearded, black-clothed terrorist leader, thought to be about 40, was in a flat desert landscape, dotted with scrub brush as if after a spring rain, that looked startlingly like Iraq's western Anbar province.

Bombs in Egypt point to desert terrorists

By William Wallis and Heba Saleh in Cairo - Published: April 25 2006 - Financial Times

The third terrorist attack in 18 months on the same stretch of Egypt's Red Sea coast appears to confirm the emergence of a new group of extremists operating out of the Sinai desert. At least 24 people were killed on Monday night, most of them Egyptians, in a series of three bomb explosions in the resort of Dahab, traditionally a popular destination for low budget European and Israeli tourists.

By Tuesday Egyptian security forces had detained 10 people for questioning in connection with the attacks.

The explosions bore the hallmarks of two previous terrorist attacks on the Red Sea coast, – at Taba in October 2004 and Sharm el Sheikh last July – both of them blamed by the authorities on local Bedouins but which have never been adequately explained.

There has been speculation of outside involvement in the attacks but so far no evidence has emerged publicly of any direct link to al-Qaeda.

All three attacks took place on or on the eve of important national holidays and appeared designed to inflict maximum damage on the tourism industry, Egypt's biggest foreign exchange earner.

"Clearly the geography, the coastline and the dates show these attacks fall within the same logic," said Dia Rashwan, an expert in Islamist groups at the Cairo based Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

He said the timing of the separate attacks appeared calculated to humiliate the regime – their location in heavily protected resort towns were meant to expose security failings.

The first of the attacks at Taba brought to an end a seven-year lull in extremist violence in Egypt and caught the regime off guard. Thousands of people were rounded up, detained without charge and in some cases tortured, in the North Sinai town of Arish.

But the authorities have revealed few details since of the adversary they face.

In an article published earlier this month, the Cairo-based Al Masry al Youm newspaper said it was only recently they had begun to understand it. The newspaper published what it described as the account given to interrogators by a member of the group accused of having carried out the Taba and Sharm el Sheikh bombings and detained last September.

Younes Alyan Abu Greir reportedly told the authorities that the militant group, Al Tawhid Wal Jihad, was set up in the northern Sinai by a young dentist, Khaled Mosaed, in 2002.

According to the paper Mr Mosaed managed to recruit 100 members from the Sinai, and that his attempt to find followers had received a boost from the American invasion of Iraq.

To evade detection, it is alleged, Mr Mosaed organised his men in cells whose members often knew no one in the group other than their immediate leader. He was allegedly killed during an exchange of gunfire at a roadblock in the Sinai in September.

Mr Abu Greir's account provides details of the group's methods such as their use of safe houses, hideouts in the desert and the thefts they carried out to fund their activities.

Egypt blames same bedouin group for all Sinai attacks

Simon Apiku - AFP - April 27, 2006

CAIRO -- Egypt blamed suicide attacks in the Sinai Peninsula this week on local bedouins linked to an Islamic radical group also responsible for other bloody bombings in Red Sea resorts in the past 18 months.

"The information indicates that the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks that occurred in Dahab and Al Gura are Sinai bedouins," interior minister Habib Al Adly told state television late on Wednesday. "They also have connections to previous incidents in Taba and Sharm El Sheikh," the minister said after five suicide bombers struck within 48 hours in the Peninsula.

Three suicide bombers struck almost simultaneously in the heart of the popular Red Sea resort of Dahab on Monday, killing at least 18 people and wounding up to 80.

On Wednesday two suicide bombers targeted security personnel from the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) and Egyptian police further north in the Sinai, causing no injuries. Security officials and state-owned newspapers had said that investigators believed that the attacks were perpetrated by bedouins from northern Sinai, which is where the MFO is stationed, close to 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Dahab.

Egypt accuses a group called Tawhid wal Jihad (Unification and holy war) of carrying out the July 2005 Sharm El Sheikh attacks that killed some 70 people and multiple bombings further up the coast that left 34 dead in October 2004. Tawhid wal Jihad was the name of Islamic extremist Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi's organization before it was renamed Al Qaeda in Iraq in late 2004.

Adly said that security reinforcements were dispatched to Sinai, a vast desert and mountainous expanse inhabited mainly by bedouin tribes.

Previous attacks in Sinai were followed by tough crackdowns and thousands of arrests in the Peninsula.

The Dahab attacks came a day before Sinai Liberation Day, a public holiday that celebrates Israel's 1982 withdrawal from the Peninsula, in what many analysts saw as evidence that the perpetrators were from a local group with an Egyptian agenda.

The Sharm El Sheikh and October 2004 attacks also were timed to coincide with key dates in Egyptian history.

The most common hypothesis put forward by security experts and commentators is that of a new homegrown Islamist cell, that could be an Al Qaeda "franchise" without necessarily receiving direct support from Osama Bin Laden's network.

Preliminary findings from the investigation revealed that the bombs used in the Dahab attacks were rudimentary and made with materials locally available.

However, the top-selling state-owned daily Al Ahram quoted security sources as saying that the same group responsible for the Sinai bombings were planning attacks against Israelis and Americans in Iraq.

Investigators have been running DNA tests to match body parts with ID cards found on the scene of some of the explosions.

In other developments, security sources and witnesses said that unidentified individuals attacked on Wednesday a police post in Belbeis, northeast of Cairo, causing no injuries. However, the interior ministry issued a statement denying that the incident had happened.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite news network also carried the report and its Cairo correspondent was later arrested in Dahab. Hussein Abdel Ghani was due to be questioned in Cairo on Thursday. - metimes.com



Captain Wardrobes

Down with Murder inc.