Israeli embassy break-in led by Jam’a al-Islamiya of NY 1993 bombing
In first new disclosures on the storming of Israel's Cairo embassy which started Friday night, Sept. 9, debkafile's counter-terror sources reveal that the mob was led by the terrorist Jama'a al-Islamiya, the Egyptian founding branch of Al Qaeda, and two other radical Egyptian Islamist groups.
The February 1993 car bombing of the World Trade Center of New York, which was the forerunner of the Sept. 11, 2001 atrocities, was an early Jama'a operation under the al Qaeda label.
Closely linked to Osama bin Laden's successor, Ayman al Zawahri, Jama'a al-Islamiya is now running for election in post-Mubarak Egypt.
Its mentor is the "blind sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for masterminding the first World Trade Center bombing. Jama'a adherents stormed the Israeli embassy Friday night along with activists of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Students April 6 Movement.
debkafile's intelligence sources also reveal that Egyptian security forces delayed for eight hours before tackling the mob smashing into the embassy building and rampaging inside – even after US Ambassador Anne Patterson interceded on behalf of the six Israel security officers barricaded in the embassy's security room as the rabble battered on its steel door.
She acted to save their lives on direct orders from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon and 80 members of staff and families had been collected from their homes and lifted out of Egypt by two Israeli military planes.
The Egyptian authorities only tackled the mob when violent groups broke into police headquarters in the upscale Giza district, stripped the gunroom and shared the weapons among themselves before returning to the street. Before that, the local police stood by and watched them sacking and burning the embassy without moving.
Scared of the rioters, the Egyptian commandos ordered to rescue the six Israelis under threat of lynch, discarded their uniforms and mingled with the crowd. When they reached the locked room, they were unable to open the steel door. The head of Egyptian unit had to find the Israeli Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen, who was in urgent conference with Israel's national leaders in the situation room, to obtain the code.
They then dressed the six Israelis like typical Egyptians and hustled them to safety past a throng of 40,000 howling for Israeli blood.
During the embassy attack until early Saturday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried unsuccessfully to raise Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi, head of the Supreme Military Council ruling Egypt, on the phone. Tantawi refused to take his calls.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak kept open lines to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington and Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Murad Muwafi in Cairo. At some point, Panetta was patched through to Muwafi through Jerusalem.
Click here for debkafile's detailed account of embassy break-in