October 15, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 801

Conspiracy Theories in the Egyptian Media Concerning the Terrorist Attacks in Sinai

October 15, 2004
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 801

Following the recent terrorist bombings in Sinai, there have been many reports in the Arab media involving conspiracy theories. This includes Yasser Arafat's national security advisor Jibril Rajoub , who pointed a finger at the U.S. and Israel, noting that they stood to gain the most from the attacks (see MEMRI TV - ) [1]

The following are reports in the Egyptian media that blame the U.S. and Israel for the Taba attacks. In a response to a journalist's question during his recent visit to Italy, President Hosni Mubarak rejected the accusations against Israel and the U.S. " until the investigations lead to results." Progressive columnist Mamoun Fandy attacked conspiracy theories and their proponents. The following are excerpts from Egyptian writings assigning blame for the attacks :

Egyptian Government Daily Al-Gumhuriya: 'The U.S. is the Main Culprit in All the Acts of Violence'

Columnist Adli Barsum wrote in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhuriya : "Who planned the bombings in Taba and who carried them out? Is it the Al-Qa'ida organization, which Israel hastened to hold responsible, even before the smoke of the fires had dissipated?

"Is it the Mossad? [After all,] there are those in Tel Aviv who are not happy about Egypt's efforts to resolve the disputes between the various Palestinian factions, and there are those who are working to spread civil war between the Palestinians and Egypt.

"Is it the CIA? [It] may perhaps be interested in preoccupying the Arabs with the events in Taba instead of dealing with the recent scandalous U.S. veto.

"Is it a Palestinian group?…

"The answer to this remains in the hands of the investigative authorities and the criminal investigation people… Whether these [authorities] find the perpetrator swiftly or whether they need some time to determine what happened, the political mind already knows what happened in Taba. The U.S. is the main culprit in all the acts of violence. It takes advantage of the call to fight terrorism in order to conceal what it is doing – the terrorism of a powerful country [carried out] by means of invasion, economy and brainwashing.

"Whether [the U.S.] is the main perpetrator, whether it is [only] the inciter, the planner, or the one providing behind-the-scenes encouragement, it strives to safeguard its interests and to stabilize its footing in the entire world by means of violence and counter-violence. This is in order for the conflicts to continue, for the fire to remain ablaze, and for the hatred to continue to rage. Thus [the U.S.] will feel [itself to be] the supreme power and will pull most or all of the strings and will set the world in motion as it wishes, in order to rake in riches upon riches, slaves upon slaves, and [to attain] more servants among the [world's] rulers who vie between themselves for its friendship and its appeasement…

"In truth, we are not interested in [the matter] of the Israelis [who] died in the explosions at Taba, and the U.S. does not have the courage to call upon us to say we are sorry for these Israelis, because our Arab eyes will never be cheap, and they [will cry] only for the brave martyrs among us. In our eyes, Arab blood is a thousand times more precious than Israeli blood. If the U.S. does not want to see a thing except for Israeli blood, that is her business." [2]

Government Newspapers: Israel or the Mossad Were Involved in the Attacks

The London Arabic-language Daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that a headline in the weekly Al-Mustaqbal Al-Jadid , the official organ of the National Party's Policies Committee under the leadership of Gamal Mubarak , read "Proof of Mossad Involvement in the Explosions in Taba."

Al-Quds Al-Arabi cited Al-Mustaqbal Al-Jadid as saying: " Al-Mustaqbal Al-Jadid has obtained a number of proofs or first-hand evidence that prove Israeli involvement in the explosions in Taba and in Nueiba. Foremost [among them] was the extraordinary rapidity with which the ambulances were prepared [to arrive] at the site of the bombings, in addition to the story of Amira Shemi [sic], who called immediately after the incident from the Taba Hilton to the Israeli Emergency Medical Service, so that they would transfer her to [their] 'hotline' [to speak] with Israeli representatives. This in addition to other clear-cut proofs that the Mossad was involved in these explosions, of which the principle ones are the sidetracking of the investigation in a false direction and the dissemination of contradictory communiqués [in the name of groups claiming responsibility]…" [3]

Columnist Majdi Salem wrote in an article in the official religious weekly Aqidati : "For many years Israelis have been coming into Sinai, and especially to Taba, with visas that the Egyptian government grants to anyone who wants them, and nothing has occurred like what happened last week, not even during the high point of terrorist activity directed against Egypt and its people.

"All of this time, never once did the Israeli authorities warn the Israelis not to come to Sinai… does this not lead us to raise questions regarding Israel's stance concerning this action, as it seems that Israel knew about it? Did Israel inform the Egyptian authorities of the information in its possession or not? And from where did it acquire this information?…

"I hope that we shall not overlook the extremist Israeli groups who have long experience in terrorism not only against Arabs and Muslims but also against Jews … especially if they are not religious." [4]

Political Figures

Dr. Abdallah Al-Ash'al , former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister and lecturer on international law at Cairo University , was quoted on the internet site "All of the signs indicate that Israeli hands were [behind the attacks]. The area is close to Israel, and Israel was the first to warn its citizens not to go to Sinai…" [5]

In the Egyptian weekly Nahdat Misr , he said that Israel "is interested in embarrassing Egypt and in hurting Egyptian tourism, just as the Palestinian Intifada hurt Israeli tourism… It is in Israel's interest that there be an Egyptian response to what happened, since it wants Egypt to join the American campaign against terrorism… It is likely that Israel recruited some people in coordination with terrorist groups in order to hurt Egypt… Israel's goal in this operation was to bring terrorism back to Egypt…" [6]

General Fuad Allam , former deputy head of the Egyptian state security service , said to Nahdat Misr : "None of the suspects in these bombings – whether Egypt, Palestine, or Al-Qa'ida – have anything to gain [from carrying out the bombings], except for Israel. All of the evidence points to the conclusion that the Israeli Mossad is the first and last to gain from this operation… As for the Palestinian factions, no one suspects that they were involved in this incident – except for Israel, which accuses them – unless the Mossad got one of these factions involved [in carrying out the attacks]." [7]

Muhammad Abd Al-Fattah Omar , former assistant to the Egyptian interior minister , said to "For every action we need to search first for who stands to gain from it… Israel is the only one who benefits from these explosions. This is due to the fact that the only two [elements] that can enter the area with ease are the Israelis and their agents… The Israeli right was going through a crisis as a result of the American pressure on Sharon, after the veto that America cast [at the U.N.] to save Israel from the proposal to condemn it for the massacres it is conducting against the Palestinians in Gaza. [Israel] had no choice but to undertake an action that would ease the American pressure on the area and would put the ball in the Americans' court, at least until the elections…" [8]

Dr. Dhiaa Rashwan, from the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper's Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies , said: "The events in Sinai were not planned by Islamists, neither Egyptian nor Al-Qa'ida… The one who gained the most from this operation was Israel, and the one who was hurt most was Egypt. In Taba there is no population from which an Islamist movement could spring, it has only tourists and security forces, and thus there is no Islamist activity in this sensitive region. In addition, the intensive security presence prevents the importing of such huge quantities of explosives…

"This operation is the [work] of a security apparatus, or else was carried out in cooperation with a major security apparatus, and the one who gained the most was Israel, and thus one should attribute [the operation] to Israel. For the Israeli security [apparatuses] it is easy to carry out an operation on lands adjacent to its borders and then to retreat into Israel, whereas it would be difficult for it to carry out such a thing deep in Egyptian lands." [9]

Voices From the Opposition

Chief Editor of the Egyptian opposition weekly Al-Usbu' , Mustafa Bakri , wrote: "There is a deliberate attempt to blame Egypt for what happened, through the statement that the car bombs arrived from Sinai. Allah be praised, this is Israeli information, and we understand that Israel wants to clear itself of blame. However, all the signs point to Israel being behind the event, even if the perpetrators say they belong to Al-Qa'ida…" [10]

A communiqué from the Muslim Brotherhood said: "The main profiteers from these events and from similar events are the war criminal Sharon and his gang and his supporters in the U.S. administration who are interested in diverting attention away from the atrocious massacre being carried out by the Israeli forces for ten days… To link the legitimate resistance in Palestine with the monster of terrorism that is spreading worldwide through the U.S. administration's aggressive policy and to propagate anarchy throughout the world… Directing accusations here and there without evidence or proof does not clear the Zionist and world intelligence mechanisms [from suspicion that they were involved in the operation], since they have tremendous capabilities in the planning of such abominable actions, the aims of which is to achieve the goals of their governments…" [11]

President Hosni Mubarak's Reaction

During his recent visit to Italy, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in response to a journalist's question about the conspiracy theories in the Egyptian papers concerning Israel's complicity in the Taba attacks: "What has been said regarding Sinai is groundless… I don't know what happened. First we need to investigate in depth… I cannot accuse anyone, Israel or others, until the investigations lead to results." [12]

Progressive Columnist: The Conspiracy Theorists are 'Either Paranoid or Insane'

The Egyptian-born progressive columnist Mamoun Fandy published an article in the Arabic-language London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat , in which he rejected the allegation that Israel was involved in the terrorist attack in Taba: "It would be logical to assume that it was the Israelis themselves who blew up the hotel in Taba – these are the words of a commentator on the Al-Arabiya TV channel… He was speaking from Cairo… Instead of asking the seasoned commentator to give an explanation for this interesting revelation, the program's hostess allowed him to go off on a preposterous historical survey about the way in which Israel kills its civilians in order to achieve political gain. While this was going on, the hostess nodded her head as though agreeing to everything our friend was saying.

"I understand well the Arabs' rage over Israel's killing of members of the Islamic organizations in Gaza, but are lies the [appropriate] response to this aggression, [lies] concerning an incident in which Egyptians, Israelis, and other foreign nationals were killed? Whatever the level of rage may be, is it not true that through this [response] we are giving a justification for terrorists to kill people enjoying themselves on their vacation? And then we say that it is the Israelis who killed their own citizens.

"We are saddened when the Palestinians are accused of acts they did not commit at all, and we claim that the world blames the victim instead of the hangman, that is, it accuses the Palestinians of resistance and does not accuse Israel of occupation, [but at the same time] we do not bat an eyelid when someone blames the victims in this incident. Is their country the one that killed them?!

" Al-Arabiya was not the only channel to adopt this conspiratorial interpretation. Al-Jazeera repeated the same thing and its commentators, especially those located in Cairo, explained how Israel carries out conspiracies like these on a daily basis.

"How do these people want the world to believe them when they attempt to defend the Arab truth by concocting lies and absurdities? In my opinion, there are thousands of facts which could provide the best defense of the Arab truth. Why do we forsake these facts and turn to lies instead?! What causes this disease?!

"… The TV hostess [on Al-Arabiya ] provokingly asked another sharp-witted commentator if he thought that this action should be considered a terrorist act?!... I smiled to myself when I saw this drivel and asked myself: what does she think, that this was an act of charity?! It is clear that this was an evil terrorist act, whatever the nationality of the victims, whether Jewish Israelis or Indian Buddhists. Terrorism is terrorism and the killing of peaceful vacationers is terrorism; of this there can be no doubt. Is it the Israelis who blow up their own citizens for political purposes?! And was it the Americans or the Serbs who attacked the [Twin] Towers – or in the words of our journalists, the outstanding journalists of the Arab world, perhaps it was the Mossad who did it?!

"Some of us call these people 'conspiracy theorists' … but the undisputed truth is that this is a group of people who are either paranoid or insane." [13]

[1] PA Chairman Arafat's National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub said in an October 10 interview on the Lebanese TV channel LBC : "Who has profited from the events in Taba? In my opinion, the first to profit is Sharon and the second is Bush. Sharon, in his continuous and unprecedented aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere, will try to use what happened in Taba as a pretext to continue his war under the title of 'fighting terrorism,' although we are subjected to Sharon's official and international terrorism."

[2] Al-Gumhuriya (Egypt), October 12, 2004.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 15, 2004.

[4] Aqidati (Egypt), October 12, 2004.


[6] Nahdat Misr (Egypt), October 9, 2004.

[7] Nahdat Misr (Egypt), October 9, 2004.


[9] Al-Rai Al-Aam (Kuwait), October 9, 2004.

[10] Al-Usbu' (Egypt), October 11, 2004.

[11], October 9, 2004.

[12] Al-'Alam TV (Iran), October 12, 2004.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 10, 2004.

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