Sunday, September 12, 2004

Six Egyptian students planned terror attack in Israel

Six Egyptian students from Cairo, who were caught after they crossed the Egyptian border near Nitzana on August 25 carrying 14 knives, black camouflage attire, backpacks, binoculars, communications equipment, and maps of Israel, were indicted today at the Beer Sheva District Court.

According to the charge sheet, the Egyptians planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian security prisoners. The Egyptians also planned to take command of an IDF tank and rob a bank in Mitzpe Ramon, in order to finance future terror attacks.

The students, ages 25 to 30, were arrested after they had made their way some three kilometers into Israel, media sources reported. Originally it was thought that they were members of the Egyptian intelligence services who had been collecting information about IDF security procedures along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Border Police commander Roni Ohana spoke with ynet of the success of his soldiers in tracking down the Egyptian infiltrators. 'From the moment we identified that a cell had crossed into Israel from the Sinai, we launched a manhunt after them that lasted about six hours until early morning,' Ohana said. Ohana added that the moment the Egyptians were discovered with detailed maps of Israel, he knew that they were not ordinary infiltrators, trying to smuggle tobacco into Israel or find jobs in the country.

'They told us that it was their intention to harm us or any Israeli security force that they came across, and after that civilians,' Ohana said. Ohana said the group planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers and bring them back to Egypt where they would be held in ransom for the release of Palestinian security prisoners.

A senior security official told Maariv that the IDF's constant pressure on the Palestinian terrorist organizations and the relentless search for tunnels in the Rafiah area used by the terrorists to smuggle illegal weaponry into the Gaza Strip had led to efforts by the terrorists to cross the border further south.

'The long Israeli-Egyptian border has become fertile territory for terrorist activities,' the official said.

Last week, the prime minister's counter-terrorism bureau issued a warning to Israeli travelers not to visit the Sinai peninsula due to 'concrete information' about possible terror attacks directed at tourists there. "