|The El-Arish police station in northern Sinai [Image Source]|
Why are we hearing so little about it?
"The decision to keep it quiet was due to fears of causing tensions in Egyptian-Israeli relations, as it would have been extremely dangerous if terrorist elements took control of Egyptian IDs; they might think of committing attacks either inside Egypt or on the borders with Israel," the source said. "Official security agencies in Egypt are currently exerting huge efforts to end the crisis through accurate inspection of IDs carried by Palestinians entering the country"... [Ahram Online]Just how the security screw-up could cause tensions between Israel and Egypt escapes us for the moment. But it's publicized now in one of Egypt's better-known news channels, so perhaps some questions will be asked by alert journalists. Or not.
And by the way, the theft was carried out from Egypt's North Sinai police headquarters in El-Arish. Perhaps that's the chief factor for the affair being kept away from the headlines, since it has been the site of one embarrassing Egyptian security failure after another. The head of the North Sinai Security Directorate, General Ahmed Bakr, was fired during a surprise visit made by Egypt's Interior Minister to El-Arish just two months ago [report]. And the El-Arish police keep getting attacked by gunmen; we reported on this several times. For instance "3-Nov-12: Sinai: Spinning out of Cairo's grip, creating major Israeli headaches"; "5-Jan-13: The headaches from Sinai grow in intensity"; "6-Nov-12: The volcano that is Sinai"; and "30-Oct-12: Egypt's Sinai problem and ours", among others.
Carrying a national identification card is obligatory for Egyptians, says Wikipedia. In addition to being necessary for visits to public hospitals and accessing banking services, they are required for passing through police checkpoints. Though IDs are not passports, presumably having one makes it easier to get yourself a fake passport which is one way to do a lot of harm. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the senior Hamas terrorist who managed the smuggling of Iranian arms to Gaza and was found dead in a Dubai hotel room in January 2010 ["Hamas: Dubai assassins were likely Arabs, not Israelis"] was traveling on a false ID papers at the time, which was why the Dubai authorities were unaware of his presence. More background here: "Crossing Borders: How terrorists use fake passports, visas and other identity documents".
Meanwhile, as the screenshot below from the main story running on the Alarabiya website at this hour illustrates, Egypt has no shortage of immediate problems.
|Click here to read the original "Chaos" story on the Alarabiya website|