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Cablegate: Egypt: 2005 Country Reports On Terrorism

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 193439


1. Egypt is an ally in the Global War on Terrorism. The
Egyptian and U.S. Governments maintained close cooperation on
a broad range of counterterrorism and law enforcement issues
in 2005 and exchanged information on a variety of terrorism,
security, and law enforcement matters during the course of
the year. An interagency U.S. delegation met with the
Egyptian Government's inter-ministerial counterterrorism
committee in January.

2. In the past three years, Egypt has tightened its
assets-freezing regime in keeping with relevant UN Security
Council Resolutions. Egypt passed strong anti-money
laundering legislation in 2002 and established a financial
intelligence unit in 2003. Egypt maintained its strengthened
airport security measures and security for the Suez Canal,
and continued to institute more stringent port security

3. Egypt was a victim of domestic terrorism in 2005. In
April, there were three unsophisticated attacks on crowded
tourist destinations in Cairo. On April 7, a lone suicide
bomber killed three foreigners, including an American, at the
Khan el-Khalili market. Several Americans were seriously
injured in this incident. Two related attacks at the end of
the month targeting tourists near the Citadel and the
Egyptian Museum were thwarted by Egyptian authorities. The
only deaths in these two attacks were the perpetrators
themselves, whom the government described as the remainder of
the small terrorist cell responsible for the April 7 bombing.

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4. On July 23, 2005, three bombs exploded in Sharm El
Sheikh, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, killing 67,
including one American, and injuring hundreds of Egyptians
and some foreign tourists. One vehicle penetrated the
driveway security of a hotel and detonated in the lobby area.
Another car bomb exploded on a street in the old section of
Sharm El Sheikh. The third bomb was in a bag that exploded in
a pedestrian area frequented by tourists. There is no
indication that these attacks were directed at Americans, but
they are widely regarded as targeting the Egyptian tourist

5. On August 15, in the vicinity of the Rafah border
crossing into the Gaza Strip, a small, improvised explosive
device detonated near a Multinational Force and Observers
vehicle, causing minor injuries to its occupants. The day
before, Egyptian authorities discovered a one-ton cache of
explosives in El Arish, on the Mediterranean coast of the
Sinai. In addition, on August 13 an intercity bus was shot
at along a road traversing the Sinai.

6. Between August and late November 2005, the Egyptian
Government conducted an intensive security operation in Jebel
Helal, a remote region in northeast Sinai, in pursuit of
fugitives from a Salafist-Bedouin group suspected of links to
the terrorist incidents cited in paragraphs four and five,
and to other crimes. During the course of the operation,
several Egyptian security personnel, including two
high-ranking police officers were killed in a late August
ambush. In subsequent skirmishes, in late September and
again in late November, several of the fugitives were shot
and killed, including Salim Khadr Al-Shanoub and Khalid
Mua'id, whom the government identified as key planners of the
July 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks, as well as an incident in
Taba the year before.

7. In the 2004 incident, a multi-storey tourist hotel in
Taba and two rustic seaside camps near Nuweiba by the Israeli
border were attacked by vehicular bombs. Thirty-four people
died, including one U.S. citizen. The Egyptian Government
maintained that all of the terrorist incidents which occurred
in 2004-5 were conducted by small domestic groups. There is
no information linking these incidents to al Qaida or other
international terror networks.

8. The Egyptian judicial system does not allow plea
bargaining, and terrorists have historically been prosecuted
to the full extent of the law. Terrorism defendants may be
tried in military tribunals or emergency courts.

9. During his campaign for the September 7 Presidential
elections, President Mubarak called for new anti-terrorism
legislation to replace the decades-old Emergency Law,
emphasizing that constitutional and legislative reforms would
be needed to eliminate terrorism. In explaining his
proposal, Mubarak said "the time has come to create a
decisive mechanism to fight terrorism." While defending the
use of the Emergency Law to respond to "the tragic
circumstances" of the past, he said that the time had come to
follow the example of other countries that had recently
passed comprehensive laws to combat terrorism.

10. Embassy Point of Contact: Embassy Officers Ian McCary,
mccaryij@state.gov, or Michael Roth at rothmr@state.gov.


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