Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Egypt: Mossad Reportedly Recruits Egyptians, Distrust of Everyone is a Common Thread

According to The Associated PressEgyptian authorities on Tuesday (February 18) charged two Israelis and two Egyptians with forming an espionage ring for Israel, the second such trial to be called for in a month.

Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat alleged that the two Israelis are Mossad officers, and that two Egyptians, including a woman, helped provide them with information. The Egyptians are in custody and authorities have issued arrest warrants for the Israelis, although prosecutors do not know their whereabouts.

COMMENT: Interestingly, none of the four suspects have been identified by name. If the defendants have already been tried, save the Israelis, why not release their names, unless of course, the spying allegations is just another example of a "symbolic assailant."

Prosecutors alleged in a statement that the Egyptian man had offered his services to Israel in 2009, and that the Israeli officers provided training in the collection of proprietary information and the use of sophisticated technology to send information back to Israel.

According to prosecutors, the woman is a magazine journalist who helped one of the co-conspirators. The two Egyptians reportedly received money and gifts in return for their information. When they confessed and gave up the names of Israeli officers, arrest warrants were issued in the names of the two Mossad agents. 

Earlier this month, the trial of eight people including five Israelis and three Egyptians on similar charges began in a court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia. The Israelis were tried in absentia.

Needless to say, rumors in Egypt are a daily occurrence, particularly given daily items in the media concerning foreign parties accused of conspiring with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize Egypt.

The army-backed interim government has cracked down on the Brotherhood following the July 3, 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who is himself standing trial on a range of charges including conspiring with the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

Amidst of all of this turmoil and intrigue, the al-Qaida-inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on an Egyptian bus in the Sinai that killed three South Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, based in the Sinai, has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, but until now they have targeted primarily police and the military. The attacks have spiked since Morsi's overthrow, spreading to cities of the Nile Delta and the capital in Cairo.

The group claimed responsibility for downing a military helicopter in Sinai in late January, killing all five crewmembers, and the assassination earlier this month of a senior interior ministry aide. It also says it carried out a powerful truck bomb outside Cairo's main security directorate.

In Cairo, interim President Adly Mansour issued a decree empowering the heads of universities to suspend students found engaging in or inciting acts of sabotage that disrupt classes or damage property.

Suspensions would be enforced following an investigation by a disciplinary board comprised of university faculty and state judges. Students have clashed with security forces for months following Morsi's ouster. The clashes have steadily grown more violent with both sides using firearms, resulting in the deaths of students and the injury to police.

First of all, given the fact that Israel is surrounded mostly by bad actors,  it is in Israel's best interests to follow political developments in Egypt very carefully, considering that unpredictability and perilousness are excellent ways of describing present-day Egypt.

Given how fluid power players of the week can change ever so quickly, it is understandable why Egyptian officials have not identified the alleged Mossad agents who have reportedly been tried in absentia. 

One way to flush out fiction from fact is to have names associated with any spying allegation, otherwise they become nothing more than speculative.

I continue to emphasize that Egypt remains volatile, which is why I continue to urge tourists AVOID Egypt at this time.

Those foreigners who do visit Egypt should be cognizant of the fact that they may be surveilled by Egyptian agents and potentially accused of  crimes real and imagined.