First Ever Islamic Husband-and-Wife Suicide Team Debuts in Cairo
In the two Islamic terrorist attacks carried out two hours apart in Cairo Saturday, April 30, two of the three assailants were killed and 15 victims injured, including four tourists. Both clearly targeted foreigners three weeks after a suicide bomber killed three tourists in a Cairo bazaar. The latest twin attacks stand out as landmarks because of three unique features revealed here exclusively by debkafile‘s counter-terror sources:
1. This was the first husband-and-wife suicide team ever mounted by al Qaeda or its associated organizations. These attacks were staged by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad whose leader is Ayman al Zuwahiri, Osama bin Laden’s senior lieutenant.
The first strike near the Egyptian Museum, a popular Cairo tourist attraction, was the work of Jihad member Ihab Yuseri, who was wanted by Egyptian police for complicity in the April 7 suicide bombing in a Cairo bazaar that killed three tourists. His wife and sister, both veiled, carried out the second attack on Old Cairo’s Salah Salam Street, shooting up a tourist bus. The wife is believed to have been shot dead by Egyptian security and the sister captured.
2. A death team of two women is also a first in the Arab world. The only terrorist groups which have so far employed women suicide bombers are the Palestinian Fatah-al Aqsa Suicide Brigades and Hamas against Israelis and the Chechens against Russians.
3. Egyptian authorities are deliberately disseminating conflicting reports on the two incidents to create confusion. debkafile‘s counter-terror sources have discovered exclusively that all three attacks this April were carried out by the same al Qaeda-Jihad Islami cell that attacked three Sinai resorts last October, killing 34, including 13 Israelis and injuring 150 holidaymakers.
Despite Egyptian efforts to sow confusion, a substantial al Qaeda-Jihad Islami network is shown to have established itself in Egypt proper this past year. It has begun to carry out its first operations inside the country.
Further revelations about the network have been uncovered by debkafile. The Egyptian security probe of the Cairo bazaar bombing on April 7 led to a clandestine terrorist network working out of two centers, Mena, a southern town teeming with Muslim extremist factions and the Nile Delta town of Qalyub just north of Cairo. Most of its members are science or engineering students at various universities and research institutes across Egypt. Only two out of several dozen were positively identified and arrested last week. One died under torture Friday, April 29. News of his death is thought to have impelled Ihab Yuseri to set up the two terrorist attacks the next day.
Two key points stand out for the Egyptian handling of the rising terrorist threat in their midst.
A. Their efforts to conceal the true perpetrators of last year’s Sinai attacks did more harm than good. The local cell used the official campaign of misdirection to cover its preparations for more terror plots.
B. The Egyptian intelligence and security authorities’ failure to uncover and smash this network in the seven months since the Sinai attacks must rank as one of the great fiascos of the year in the world’s campaign against terrorism. According to our information, between 300 and 400 Sinai Bedouin and Palestinians are still languishing in Egyptian jails without trial in the belief that they may give up some information on the bombers. So far, nothing has been gleaned from any of them.
There are also lessons for Israel in the Cairo episodes. debkafile was alone in exposing al Qaeda’s role in the Sinai bombings. Israeli officials kept quiet out of consideration for Egypt. Just before the Passover holiday, Jerusalem released a general warning to Israeli travelers to stay away from Egypt and Sinai. It was not effective. Tens of thousands visited Sinai and Egypt too nonetheless, proving that denial is not the most effective weapon for fighting al Qaeda or any other terrorist threat, including the Palestinian variety.