Egypt working to prevent Iran attacks on Israeli targets, sources say
A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said last week that Iranian military experts have been active on Israel's southern border, as well as in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian security forces thwarted an attempt by Iran to blow up an Israeli ship in the Suez Canal, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported on Saturday.
The attack was being planned by two Egyptians who were recently arrested and interrogated, the prosecution in Egypt's state security court reportedly claimed.
An investigation allegedly revealed that the men, Suleiman Razek Abdul-Razek and Salameh Ahmed Salameh, had received their instructions from Iranian agents. They reportedly asked a third person, Mohammed Zakri, to carry out the attack in exchange for 50 million Egyptian pounds.
The two men denied any involvement.
Hezbollah terror cells in Egypt - including the Suez Canal - have been found to be planning terror attacks in the past. Israeli officials have recently warned that Iran is setting up terror infrastructure on Egyptian soil to prepare for an operation.
Sources said on Saturday that they have no information to support the Egyptian newspaper's report. However, they attribute importance to the very fact that the claim was published. Although a few months ago Egypt allowed Iranian destroyers though the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean - the ships docked at a Syrian port - it prohibited Iranians from striking Israeli targets in its territory; Egypt also threatened to prosecute anyone who was found to be attacking Israeli targets in coordination with the Iranians, according to a report.
A high-ranking official in Jerusalem said last week that Iranian military experts have been active in Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
"We can see signs that Iran is building a terror infrastructure throughout Sinai," he said. The official added that although Israel has responded to every Egyptian request to beef up its forces in Sinai, no significant Egyptian operation has taken place in Sinai since the Egyptian revolution last year.
Several terror groups are now at large in Sinai, the source claimed: local Bedouin, who are adopting the ideology of the Global Jihad; groups supported by Iran who are trying to recruit and train militants not only in Sinai but throughout Egypt; and Palestinian organizations. Joining them are Global Jihad militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the official said, adding that Israel and Egypt share a common interest in combating these terrorist elements. The official said the Iranians are urging and directing Palestinians to carry out attacks, and that they have tried to encourage Hamas to do so as well.
"It must be remembered that a host of Palestinian organizations are using Sinai to carry out attacks," the official said, adding that since ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's fall, Libya has become a huge arms depot, where weapons are transferred to Egypt and then the Gaza Strip.
Iranian intelligence has been increasingly involved in events on Israel's southern border, both in Gaza and Sinai. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week directly accused Iran for the escalation on the Gaza border two weeks ago.