Egyptian security authorities announced the arrest of 25 Palestinians, who they claim have links to the Al Qaeda terror organization and were plotting to bomb American and other ships passing through the Suez Canal. The terror cell planned to fabricate bombs that could be detonated by using cell phones, Egyptian authorities said. The group planned to make car bombs to bomb oil and gas pipe lines running across and alongside the canal; and bombs that could be ferried to the passing vessels in small boats, similar to the way the American destroyer, USS Cole, was severely damaged by Al Qaeda suicide boat bombers in the Gulf of Aden in October, 2000.
The Suez Canal has seen a heavy use of marine traffic lately, despite the frequent attacks by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Many American naval vessels pass through the canal on their way to and from the Persian Gulf; and with things heating up in Iran, especially following the demonstrations against the results of the June 12th elections there, levels of security alert have been increased by US naval bases in the Persian Gulf.
More recently, Israeli naval vessels have passed through the canal, including at least one submarine capable of firing nuclear tipped missiles; which the Israeli Navy said is to show the Iranians that Israel is watching events going on in Iran very closely.
These and other Palestinians could well be parts of large groups of Palestinians who crossed into Egypt over a year ago when they bombed parts of the security fence between Gaza and Egypt. Although most of the thousands of Palestinians who went on “shopping sprees” in Egypt eventually returned to Gaza, many did not; and they are still hanging out in various parts of the Sinai Peninsula, including along the Red Sea coast; where many Israelis and Egyptians like to go for holiday vacations. For this reason, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is constantly advising Israelis to refrain from vacationing in the Sinai, due to a very real threat of kidnappings and terror attacks.
The 25 detainees told Egyptian authorities that they had received funds for these terror operations from Islamic charities abroad, many of whom are actually fronts for terror organizations like AL Qaeda and Hezbollah.