Unit 101 hasn't existed since 1954. (He actually was part of the IDF Paratroopers 101st Battalion.)
While many Egyptians are doubting the story, the news media is convinced that Grapel is a spy.
Egypt's al-Ahram weekly reported Thursday that that Cairo's prosecution is looking into ways to expedite the legal proceedings against Ilan Grapel, an Israeli detained there on alleged espionage charges.Arabic media has even accused Grapel of planning to blow up the gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel in order to embarrass Egypt.
Should such a move be successful, Grapel may face trial within a few weeks.
The newspaper continues to claim that Grapel is a Mossad agent, who was caught "trying to recruit locals and inflame the conflict between the Egyptian people and the armed forces."
The paper also alleged that Grapel's visa application – filed with the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv – stated that he was Muslim; adding that he was caught sending "several emails from Internet Cafés to the Mossad."
According to the report, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi refused to meet with the Israeli consul to Cairo on the matter.
Meanwhile, another Egyptian publication, "al-Masri al-Youm," reported that since Grapel's arrest, "dozens of young 'revolutionists' have come forward with information regarding the Israeli agent, reporting to the Attorney General."
Commenter Mitchell writes:
Aside from being an acquaintance of Ilan Grapel, his being a spy (specifically for the Mossad) does NOT hold water because a) Grapel always used his real name b) whenever Israel wants to send someone to spy on an Arab country, they will send a NATIVE Arabic speaker, not someone with an American accent who sticks out like a sore tongue c) it takes 2.5 years of intensive training ONLY after finishing service in an IDF combat unit before the Mossad will even send you out on a mission; Grapel has been studying at Emory University (in Atlanta, Georgia) for the past two years and only got released from the IDF September, 2007, so do the math....
It is starting to look like the cirrent Egyptian regime does not want to look foolish so it is going to push the lie that Grapel is a spy and fabricate evidence.
There is even a Facebook group that seems to call for Grapel to be executed. And a demonstration is planned in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday to protest Israeli "spying" on Egypt.
The US needs to pressure Egypt to release Grapel (and American citizen) now, because time is not on his side.