- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Were the recent terrorist attacks in Egypt and London isolated incidents or the work of al Qaeda? Both British and Egyptian authorities in their investigations appear to have found have found evidence that points to the latter.

In Britain, there appears to be a connection between the murderous July 7 attacks that killed 56 people including the four terrorists themselves and Thursday’s failed bombing effort. British authorities know that two of the July 7 terrorists, Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, had been on a rafting trip together in early June. It is now believed that at least one of Thursday’s terrorists, if not all four, may have been with Khan and Tanweer on the same trip, a fact which could tie both attacks to al Qaeda. The Sunday Telegraph reported that last October Khan had met with Mohammed Yasin, an explosives specialist with an al Qaeda-affiliated group, in Pakistan. Also, investigators are trying to hunt down Haroon Rashid Aswat, a known al Qaeda terrorist whom British intelligence believes entered two weeks before the July 7 attacks.

Although Prime Minister Tony Blair has been a stalwart ally of the United States in fighting terrorist-sponsoring regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Britain has fallen short in others. London, for example, has been among the first in the European Union to support contacts with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. And together with Germany and France, it has energetically pursued the failed negotiations to cajole Iran (perhaps the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism) to agree to give up its nuclear weapons. At a minimum, the attacks should serve as a reminder of the malevolent nature of Islamist terrorism and the price to be paid for demonstrating weakness in confronting it and its state sponsors.

Meanwhile, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades of al Qaeda is one of the terrorist organizations that has claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed as many as 88 people and wounded over 100. Egyptian officials have also said that they are trying to find at least five Pakistani men they believe are connected to Saturday’s attacks.

The Sharm el-Sheikh attack serves as a reminder that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has a lot more to do in combating what has become a dangerous al Qaeda network in the Sinai. After an al Qaeda affiliate massacred more than 60 foreign tourists in 1997, Mr. Mubarak cracked down harshly on the group and its supporters. He took a much softer approach to the Islamist terrorists who last year killed 30 people in an attack on a hotel in Taba. Now, according to Ze’ev Schiff, the well-connected military correspondent with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, al Qaeda has managed to set up a dangerous terrorist infrastructure in the Sinai, apparently with weapons and explosives smuggled in from Saudi Arabia.

The civilized world pays a heavy price whenever it shies away from moving to decapitate terrorist networks and deal with their state sponsors.

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