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.Translated from the Arabic Edition.
Kidnapped tourists who are returned a few days later? Seems like the sort of thing that would make the news. Hmm, let's see... "kidnapped tourists + Egypt" = page after page of one incident in September 2008.
September 30, 2008: Tourists kidnapped in Egypt -- 11 tourists go free after raid in the Sahara, Noha El-Hennawy and Jeffrey Fleishman, LA Times
CAIRO — Eleven European tourists kidnapped by masked bandits in southern Egypt were freed Monday after a 10-day odyssey that ended when Egyptian and Sudanese commandos swept across a remote desert landscape.
Details of the rescue operation were scant. The tourists -- five Germans, five Italians and one Romanian -- and their eight Egyptian drivers and guides were released early in the day. Their freedom came hours after Sudan announced Sunday that its forces had killed six kidnappers and arrested two others in a gun battle.
Egyptian state-owned television said the tourists were rescued in a "special mission." Egyptian and Sudanese troops with helicopter cover reportedly overpowered the kidnappers in the Sahara desert near the borders of Libya, Egypt and Sudan. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country's special forces also were involved, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Frattini later told Italian TV: "It was an operation of excellent professionalism. We have to obviously thank our German friends who worked with us, Egypt as well as Sudan."
Egyptian Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said half of the kidnappers, who over the last week had been described as both tribal bandits and members of a Sudanese rebel group, had been "liquidated."Zoheir Garana, Egypt's tourism minister, said of the hostages, "They are all in good shape." He added, "I don't know any details about the rescue operation that took place because all the details are with the security authorities that carried out the operation."There were conflicting reports as to exactly how the tourists were freed, including a Sudanese government version that after the gun battle the hostages were abandoned by the surviving captors and wandered near the Libya-Egypt-Sudan border, where they were discovered by military forces. They boarded a plane with Egyptian commandos and were flown to a military base 25 miles east of Cairo.
The tourists, some waving and holding flowers after getting off the plane, were taken to a military hospital for checkups. They appeared exhausted but not severely injured. The group was greeted by Egyptian authorities and ambassadors from Germany and Italy. It was not clear where the guides and drivers were treated.
The ordeal, which began Sept. 19 near the painted caves of Gilf al Kebir, about 550 miles southwest of Cairo, unfolded amid ransom demands, negotiations and a trek that led the captives over stretches of the Sahara desert in at least two countries. The kidnappers reportedly asked for as much as $6 million in ransom. German negotiators had been in contact with the kidnappers before Sunday's ambush by Sudanese troops. Egyptian authorities said no ransom was paid.
The tourists and Egyptians were snatched from four utility vehicles on a landscape of sparse majesty and prehistoric cave paintings. The arid region, site of scenes in the 1996 movie "The English Patient," is a dangerous swath of jagged rocks and dunes ventured to by only intrepid adventure seekers. The fate of the tourists became of national concern for Egypt, which last year took in nearly $8 billion in tourism revenue."We will coordinate with security agencies to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Garana.
In another story: Kidnapped tourists in Egypt are freed by special forces.
A group of European tourists who were kidnapped by armed bandits in the remote deserts of southern Egypt have been freed after a raid that left half of their captors dead, Egyptian officials said yesterday.
A force of 30 elite Egyptian troops, accompanied by Italian and German special forces, raided the kidnappers’ camp to release the five Italians, five Germans and one Romanian who were abducted with eight Egyptian guides while on a 4x4 vehicle safari of the desert near the Sudanese border.
Details about how the raid was conducted, and even where it took place, were still hazy last night. A Sudanese official said that the hostages had been abandoned before the rescue mission was begun, and that Sudan’s own forces had fought the kidnap gang near the Egyptian and Libyan border the day before. That statement was partially borne out by one of the guides, who said that his captors had been a group of about 17 gunmen who spoke broken Arabic.
Sherif Abdel-Moneim said that the gang had treated the group well but abandoned them at dawn yesterday. “Moments later security forces came and rescued us,” he said. The gunmen had told them that they meant the group no harm, he said. “They told us: ‘We won’t do anything to you. Once we get the ransom from your governments, you will walk free’. ”
An Egyptian official said that half of the kidnappers had been killed in a gun battle. “Just before dawn two helicopters flew in special forces from the elite Lightning Brigade who freed the hostages. There was a gunfight during which half the around 35 kidnappers were killed and the rest escaped.”
The abduction had been a serious embarrassment to the Egyptian Government, which relies on foreign tourism for revenue and has tried to protect visitors after a series of deadly al-Qaeda hotel bombings in Sinai in the past five years. The incident appeared to have been financially motivated, blamed by some on a small Sudanese rebel group hoping to extort as much as $15 million (£8.4 million).
Zoheir Garrana, the Egyptian Tourism Minister, who met the liberated hostages at the airport, said that no ransom had been paid.
An Israeli spy ring is broken up in Egypt. The ring allegedly wiretaps high level Egyptian officials, routing their conversations to Israel via the UK. (No mention in Wikileaks then?) The ring also allegedly kidnaps foreign tourists in Egypt, takes them to Israel for several days, and returns them.
Who are these kidnapped tourists, and why haven't we heard about them? Do they not remember being kidnapped and taken to Israel for a few days during holiday? Or is there some other reason they don't call reporters and authorities and complain bitterly about being kidnapped and taken to Israel?
Unlike, for instance, the body of a US tourist Christine Logan found near Jerusalem, and the Israeli authorities suspecting an Arab terrorist attack.
Or, perhaps you may have heard about drug gangs kidnapping tourists in Acapulco.
Or maybe you heard about the tourists taken hostage on a bus in the Philippines.
Where are the stories of the tourists taken hostage in Egypt, whisked off to Israel, and then returned? Sounds very interesting.
We can't find these stories, not that we are about to spend too much time on it, but if you find anything, please send a link. A routine google search turns up page after page after page of one particular incident in 2008, in which you are asked to believe the following:
- Germans, Italians, and Romanian tourists, along with their Egyptian drivers and guides, go into the middle of the desert, where they are kidnapped by people speaking broken Arabic, thought to be Sudanese rebels.
["Sudanese Arabic is the most widely spoken language in the country, and is dominant in much of the north. It is the result of a mixing of Egyptian Arabic and Arabic from the Arabian peninsula with local languages (El Rutana). This has resulted in a variety of Arabic that is unique to Sudan, reflecting the way in which the country has been influenced by both African and Arabian cultures. Other languages in the north include Nubian languages and Beja or Bedawi." - Wikipedia]
- These thugs say they only want money and they won't hurt the tourists. In fact, they let them go MOMENTS BEFORE helicopters and special forces arrive, IN THE DESERT.
- Somehow, half the kidnappers are killed and the other half escape! Where did they run and escape in the desert, pursued by special forces in helicopters?!? We certainly don't know how they managed to escape. Just amazing.
- And where are the bodies of the dead kidnappers? It's all a bit hazy.
- In fact, the whole thing is rather hazy, all except for the part where the whole mission was super successful and heroic, and no ransom had to be paid. Phew!
"It was an operation of excellent professionalism. We have to obviously thank our German friends who worked with us, Egypt as well as Sudan." ~ Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini
Yes you know something we should just wait for Interpol to issue arrest warrants for those two Israeli suspects in the Egyptian spy ring. They'll be on that right after they bring in Whitey Bulger.