Counter-Terrorism: August 5, 2005

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The terrorist bombing in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on July 23rd was a wake up call for Egyptian counter-terrorism forces. The Egyptians soon discovered that Hezbollah and al Qaeda terrorists had taken up residence in the Sinai Peninsula. This had long been suspected by the Egyptians, but they believed the terrorists were mainly interested in supporting attacks against Israelis, especially in Gaza. The Egyptians have a special problem trying to deal with terrorists in the Sinai. Because of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the Sinai Peninsula is demilitarized. That means no Egyptian troops, and very few police. Now the Egyptians have asked the Israelis for permission to send several thousand Egyptian police commandoes into the Sinai to find and destroy the terrorist camps. Israel is reluctant to do this, feeling that it will establish a precedent, and that the Egyptians will refuse to withdraw the additional paramilitary police from Sinai. Meanwhile, the Egyptian police that are in Sinai, keep picking up more evidence of terrorist networks in the rugged, and thinly populated, desert. The area has been the scene of smuggling for thousands of years, and the rugged hills contain many caves, long used to hide goods, and people. 

 


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