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July 26, 2005
Egypt Got Tip On Bombing

The Scotsman reports tonight that Egyptian authorities had received a warning about the bombings at Sharm el-Sheikh that killed 88 people and injured hundreds more. Security officials misunderstood the intended target of the al-Qaeda terrorists, however, leaving the hotels unprepared for the attack:

THE Egyptian authorities received information about an imminent terror attack in Sharm el-Sheik days ahead of the devastating weekend bombings, security officials revealed yesterday.

But they believed it would target casinos, so security was increased around those sites, said two officials. ...

The officials, who have knowledge of the investigation, would not say where the tip came from, but said security had been put on alert in the resort on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula several days before the pre-dawn attacks on Saturday.

Instead of casinos, the bombers, in two explosives-laden lorries, targeted hotels just after 1am on Saturday morning. One ploughed into the Ghazala Gardens reception area, levelling the lobby. A second headed for another hotel but got caught in traffic and detonated before reaching its target.

Egyptian authorities will have some questions to answer about why they limited the security to just the casinos; perhaps the tip was too specific, or else plans got changed at the last minute. However, if they took the warning seriously, one should expect that a heightened alert would have gone out to all tourist businesses and transport systems in the area. Al-Qaeda routinely targets such high-profile assets, as it did in Britain, Morocco, Madrid, Turkey, and of course America.

Egypt also has the first forensic evidence linking the bombings to AQ. The remains of the suicide bomber have been identified as a man with known ties to Islamist terrorists. The second bomber still hasn't been identified, but since the Egyptian chapter of Tawhid and Jihad (the same name as Zarqawi's group in Iraq) has already claimed responsibility, stating that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered the attack, investigators can safely assume that the partner will have had similar ties.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 26, 2005 8:01 PM

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