Egyptian officials have uncovered a plot by three Al-Qaeda linked terrorists to assassinate Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen and to bomb Muslim and Christian sites, the Arabic-language Cairo-based Almasry Alyaom newspaper reported. However, it is not known if the terrorists’ confessions were voluntary or were made as a result of torture.
The cell’s Al-Qaeda connection was a terrorist using the name of Abu Hamdan al-Libi, who apparently is in Iraq after having left Egypt. Other members of the cell also fled Egypt.
The Egyptian State Security Prosecution said that its personnel have been tracking potential terrorist targets. It said the terrorists were unable to break through the tight security around Ambassador Cohen’s home and the embassy.
Relations between Israel and Egypt have been chilly despite the diplomatic ties that were established three decades ago. The United States government reportedly intervened to make sure that Egypt invited Cohen to U.S. President Barack Obama’s “reaching out to Muslims” speech at Cairo University in early June. Cohen attended despite threats by university lecturers that they would block him from entering the campus.
Egypt also recently delivered a strong message to Cohen over the eviction of illegal Arab residents at the Sheikh Jarreh property that is owned by Jews. The envoy’s explanation that the homes in question have been owned by Jews for more than 80 years did not satisfy the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, which insisted that Israel was “dispossessing Arabs of their property."