Fri, Oct 8, 2004 at 1:07:18 pm
DEBKAfile claims the Islamist massacre in Taba was an Iranian-Hizballah-al Qaeda coproduction.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence and counter-terror sources report that the explosives used to tear away the entire frontage of the Taba Hilton and hit the Nueiba oasis campside further south on the Red Sea coast were of Iranian manufacture; the same make as the bombs used in the 1996 Khobar Towers blast and he 2003 Istanbul attacks.
Egyptian intelligence investigators are working on the same premise as their Israeli counterparts that a Hizballah cell based in Sinai rigged the four bomb cars and by mid-September had them ready for Thursday’s multiple strike. Two were reserved for the 10-storey Taba Hilton, where bodies are still being dug out of the rubble.
Intelligence of suggestive Hizballah movements prompted the counter-terror center at the Israeli prime minister’s office to warn Israeli travelers on the eve of the Jewish New Year to miss out on their favorite holiday sites in Sinai. Nonetheless, 15,000 Israelis were trapped there Thursday night.
(The Hizballah’s Sinai cell is part of the Palestinian international weapons smuggling network that has grown out of the Sinai-Gaza tunnel system and which now branches out to East Africa, Arabia, the Persian Gulf, Syria, Turkey and Chechnya.)
Two of the four bomb cars have been identified as “Ramses,” an Egyptian version of the Fiat. They were kept hidden in caves and wadis around the Sinai desert in waiting for the suicide bombers. Another Egyptian intelligence premise is that between 4 and 6 bombers activated the death cars, arriving one or two days earlier by one of two routes - from Sudan or from Saudi Arabia via Sudan. They would have reached the Egyptian Red Sea port of Gardaka and taken a regular ferry to Sharm el-Sheikh. Disembarking passengers are only lightly searched as Egypt has no wish to hurt its tourist trade. The other possibility is that the bombers crossed the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and arrived at the Sharm el-Sheikh marina aboard a Saudi yacht, knowing the Egyptians would never search it.