6 ARRESTED BY EGYPTIAN ARMY IN NORTHERN SINAI
6 ARRESTED BY EGYPTIAN ARMY IN NORTHERN
Six people accused of being “terrorists” have been arrested by Egyptian armed forces, on Friday 08/10/2012, in Sinai, after an attack on a police station earlier this week killed 16 border guards, state television reports (see – El-Arish 08.07.12).
They were arrested during joint army and police patrols searching for criminals in North Sinai province, state news agency MENA reported on Friday. The arrests came as the army massed troops in the area and Bedouin leaders pledged their help in a meeting with the interior minister.
Military trucks carrying dozens of armoured personnel carriers mounted with machine guns rolled through the town of El-Arish heading eastwards on Thursday, where they claim Bedouin “Islamists” with links to the attacks have established a presence in villages near the border with Gaza.
Israel said on Thursday it gave Egypt the go ahead to deploy helicopters in Sinai, easing the restrictions on military presence in the peninsula in a 1979 peace treaty between the neighbouring countries.
At a late night meeting with the interior minister Ahmed Gamal al-Din in El-Arish, roughly 50km west of the Gaza border, Bedouin tribal leaders demanded to see the bodies of the militants reportedly killed on Wednesday.
The tribal leaders said they had agreed to help the military and police to restore security in the lawless peninsula and close down Rafah Tunnels used to smuggle contraband and weapons to the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Hamas said on Friday tha Egypt had temporarily reopened the Rafah border crossing, but only to allow the passage of Palestinians back to the coastal territory.
The interior minister said his forces and the military would defeat the groups responsible for the violence with the help of the Bedouin tribes, which have been hostile toward the central government they say marginalises them.
Another senior security official stationed in Sinai acknowledged that they faced an elusive enemy that had the advantage of the peninsula’s formidable mountain and desert terrain. “It will be gradual,” he told the AFP news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media. “The geography, the desert and mountains, will make this difficult.”
The military said the militants were supported by mortar fire from Gaza during the raid.
After his inauguration on June 30, Mohammed Morsi has moved to alleviate restrictions on the border crossing with Gaza and met Gaza leader Ismail Haniya (see – New Phase). Egypt shut the crossing after Sunday’s attack.
Egypt demands handover of 3 Hamas terrorists.Palestinian paper al Quds claims, on Thursday 08/09/2012. Izz al-Din al-Qassam members wanted in connection with logistical assistance provided to Sinai Islamists.
The three terrorists are Ayman Nufal, Raad al-Attar (1) and Muhammad abu Shamala (2). The official stressed that the request, which was transmitted to Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniya, is not linked to their direct involvement in Sunday’s Kerem Shalom Raid , but rather to the possibility that the three were involved in logistics assistance provided to arms smuggling and Islamist groups active in Sinai. The Egyptian authorities asked also for the extradition of three Army of Islam militants Cairo believes were implicated directly in the terror attack.
Ayman Nufal was the commander of Izz al-Din al-Qassam in the central Gaza Strip. In 2008, he was arrested in Sinai by Egyptian security forces and accused of planning terror attacks. The Hamas terrorist served time in Egyptian prison, but escaped during the country’s revolution and managed to return to Gaza through a smuggling tunnel (see – Egypt’s Mass Jail Breakout).
Raad al-Attar and Muhammad abu Shamala are senior member of Hamas’ military wing in Rafah. Al -Attar is regarded as one of the masterminds behind Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
Palestinian security officials have claimed in the past that al-Attar is also responsible for dispatching a terrorist cell that fired Katyusha rockets from the Sinai Peninsula toward the southern city of Eilat in 2010 (see – Aqaba 04.22.10).
Egyptian security in Cairo said there are evidence suggesting Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, facilitated Sunday’s Sinai terror attack the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported, on Saturday 08/11/2012.
* Raad al-Attar and Muhammad abu Shamala were killed by a Israeli airstrike on Thursday 08/21/2014 morning, alongside Mohamed Barhoum, another top Hamas commander in Southern Gaza Strip.
* Related topics ;
- 08/2012 -CANADIAN DAVID EDWARD NABBED IN SINAI OVER TERROR
- 04/2012 -THE SINAI JUNCTION
03/2012 -SINAI’S BEDOUINS CHALLENGE EGYPTIAN SOVEREIGNTY
- 02/2012 -GAZA BOUND ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES SEIZED IN SINAI