Shin Beit Director Yuval Diskin Warns: Al Qaeda’s creeping approach to Israel from Sinai is deeply disturbing

DEBKAfile Intelligence

July 27, 2005, 1:26 PM (GMT+02:00)

Ahmed Fuleyfel, a Palestinian from the N. Sinai town of el Arish, has been named the suicide bomber who drove the rigged truck into the Ghazaleh Gardens Hotel of Sharm el-Sheikh, causing the most casualties of any of the three blasts that struck the Red Sea resort July 22. His trial in absentia on charges of organizing the Taba attacks last October opened in Ismailya the day before, July 21. Since those attacks on northern Sinai resorts left 34 dead, including 13 Israelis, the Egyptians have been after him. They introduced into the peninsula thousands of troops and a fleet of helicopters to chase the Taba bomber – in contravention of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. But he managed to elude arrest.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that Fulayfel, whose brother Suleiman died as a suicide in one of the Taba attacks, often bragged that the Egyptians would never catch him.

Al Qaeda sent 9 Pakistani adherents to join forces with the Fulayfel and his mixed Palestinian-Bedouin team for the Sharm al Sheikh strikes. This collaboration brings out the close-knit collaboration developed between al Qaeda’s Middle East command and northern Sinai locals. The Pakistanis traveled on Jordanian passports, all of which were found to be high-class forgeries.

Egypt and Israeli are fully aware that Palestinians linked to al Qaeda also operate the massive arms smuggling traffic from Sinai into Israel and the Gaza Strip. Yet until now they have preferred to treat the lawless volatility on their border as a purely Israel-Palestinian issue and set aside its potential as an al Qaeda door into the Gaza Strip. But Tuesday, July 26, Shin Beit chief Yuval Diskin, addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, voiced deep concern that al Qaeda was creeping ever closer to Israel from Sinai..

The security chief was putting the lawmakers on notice that after Israel’s pull-out next month, al Qaeda will have as little difficulty in planting terrorist teams in the Gaza Strip as it did in placing bombers in Sharm el-Sheikh last week. Indeed, this open gate will offer the international Islamists their best opportunity ever to launch terror attacks inside Israel. Their intentions are amply recorded.

The latest Islamist group to claim responsibility for the Sharm el-Sheikh bomb attacks, the Tawhid and Jihad Group in Egypt, said it was waging a war to expel “Zionist and crusaders from Muslim Lands.” Its name is similar to the one formerly used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq. The goal it sets out is right down the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami’s street. Both are dedicated to achieving the Jewish state’s extinction by violence.