Egyptian authorities may have arrested a suspect in connection with last week's bombing of the pipeline that brings natural gas to Israel and Jordan.
One suspect, Mohamed al-Teehi, is leader of Al-Takfir Wa Al-Hijra (Excommunication and Exodus), an armed Islamist group. He was arrested in the northern coastal city of el-Arish, according to a report Sunday by Reuters.
Egyptian officials stated to the state news agency MENA they believe that al-Teehi, who tops the government's “wanted” list, is the mastermind behind attacks on police stations in the city. However, residents of el-Arish told MENA that al-Teehi is unable to move physically due to a fractured pelvis sustained as the result of a car accident.
In addition, government officials reportedly avoided specifically stating whether al-Teehi actually was involved in last Thursday's attack on the pipeline.
A separate report by the Palestinian Authority-linked Ma'an news agency claimed that a different terrorist, Muhammad Eid Musleh Hamad, head of the "Jihadis and Takfiris" group, had been arrested in connection with the sabotage.
The "Jihadis and Takfiris" group has been committed to shutting down Egypt's tourism industry in the region and "ridding" the Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-owned Red Sea resort areas of all foreign tourists.
The country's 20-year deal signed with Israel by Gasco, the subsidiary of the EGAS national gas company that owns the pipeline, is not popular with the increasingly Islamist Egyptian public. And the Bedouin tribes who live in the Sinai Peninsula, kept under some minimal control during the Mubarak regime, have largely taken over the region since his fall from power.
National elections are set to take place in the country on November 28 to elect a parliamentary government in a three-step process that is not expected to end until sometime next year.
Egyptian authorities blame Israel for their increasing inability to maintain control over security in Sinai, pointing to the limit on the number of Egyptian military troops allowed in the region under the parameters of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Israel has already relaxed that prohibition to some extent.