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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Egypt claims to have busted Israeli spy ring

From Al Masry al-Youm:
Egyptian security forces have arrested several people suspected of belonging to an Israeli spy network operating in Egypt. The alleged network reportedly consists of two fugitive Israeli officers and four Egyptian nationals.

The State Security apparatus is currently conducting a highly secretive investigation of the suspects.

Investigations have so far revealed that network members had succeeded in establishing two communications offices, one in Cairo and one in the UK, through which they recorded telephone calls made by prominent Egyptian government officials. The calls were then allegedly transferred to a communications office in Israel.

Investigations have further revealed that one of the Israeli officers had managed to recruit a female Egyptian public relations director working at a tourism company to supply him with information, in return for money, about places frequented by certain groups of tourists--including those from China and Japan--near the border region of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

After being provided with the information, the Israeli officer was then able to kidnap a number of tourists who were allegedly taken to Israel. After several days, kidnapped tourists were then reportedly returned to the place from which they had been abducted. The operation's apparent objective was to destabilize security in the Sinai Peninsula.

Confessions by the defendants have revealed that the two officers had recruited a former female basketball player and her friend to rent a communications office in Cairo, which was run by a third person who has also been arrested. This office was reportedly linked to a communications office in the UK.

The defendants were thus able to monitor and record telephone calls made from certain landlines in Egypt--as specified by the two officers--which were then transferred to the UK office before being re-transmitted to a communications office in Israel.

Egyptian security forces have arrested and detained the Egyptian suspects pending investigation, while public prosecutors have charged them with conducting espionage for a foreign country, recording telephone calls without permission, and forming a "terrorist cell" aimed at disrupting public order.

Interpol, meanwhile, has been asked to issue arrest warrants for the Israeli suspects.

Al-Masry Al-Youm has learned that the case file contains more than 15 telephone calls involving high-ranking government officials that were successfully recorded by the suspected spies.
New details via RTT:
Egyptian authorities claimed Monday that the country's state security service has busted a 'spy-ring' engaged in espionage activities. It is said to have been attempting to recruit employees working for telecommunications companies in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon as Israeli operatives.

State prosecutor Hisham Badawi revealed Monday that local businessman Tareq Abdel Razeq Hussein Hassan, 37-year-old owner of an import-export business, was arrested in August for his alleged involvement in the Israeli spy-ring.
The idea that Israeli spies infiltrate telecommunications networks in the Arab world is not only believable but most probable, though it is an open question as to whether this was really one of those cases.

But the supposed plot to kidnap tourists for a few days and then return them, quietly, to "destabilize security in the Sinai" makes no sense at all.

By the way, whenever Palestine Today illustrates a story about Israeli intelligence, it uses this image:

Somehow, I don't think the fedora is meant to evoke Dick Tracy.