British tourists targeted in ‘massacre plot’ at Egypt beach resort – but police swoop on al-Qaeda terror suspects just in time
Five terrorists have been caught apparently plotting an attack on British tourists in an Egyptian resort in the lead-up to Christmas.
The suspected jihadists were arrested by Egyptian counter terror police as they collected rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and pistols in an attempt believed to be similar to the Mumbai attacks in India which killed 166 people in November 2008.#
Authorities claimed that the gang planned to attack the ‘softer target of British tourists’ holidaying at the idyllic beachside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.
Terrorist target: Beachside resort Sharm el-Sheikh (pictured) is thought to have been the target of five Muslim terrorists who were arrested by Egyptian counter terror police
The arrests come after al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri called for a new wave of violence, appealing to jihadists around the world to attack and kidnap westerners.
The Daily Mirror quoted a security source saying: ‘There are increasing fears that Zawahiri is demanding more attacks on civilian areas with a focus on Americans and Brits.
‘British security is pretty good these days so al-Qaeda is turning its attention to the softer target of British tourists who are holidaying abroad.’
The suspects were held near the border with Gaza as the weapons were taken to a safe house in Egypt.
In a separate incident, security forces arrested two men allegedly linked to 83 bombs found by security forces in a car on a highway outside Cairo, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Appeal for violence: al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri has appealed to jihadists around the world to attack and kidnap westerners
Police also raided an apartment in Cairo and seized 1.1lbs of ball bearings, which are often used in bombs to cause greater damage and injury, and a bomb-making manual.
Two other men were detained by police recently with electrical circuit boards that could have been used in bomb-making.
The attack in Mumbai in 2008 occurred at 10 sites across the city with most of the 166 victims killed at the Indian city’s main train station.
Attacks in Egypt have been on the rise since Salafi Islam fundamentalist groups linked to al-Qaeda have grown in Egypt’s Sinai region.
Attacks have been made on UN peacekeepers, Egyptian forces, Israel and a gas pipe to Israel and Jordan.
Mumbai-style: The foiled terror plot was thought to be similar to the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people including people at the Taj Mahal hotel (pictured) in 2008
Most victims: A gunman walks through Mumbai’s main train station where most of the victims were killed during the 2008 attack
Tourists have been targeted before by extremists in Egypt during a wave of violence in the 1990s.
Some 62 tourists were massacred by six men disguised as security force staff with knives and automatic guns at an archaeological site across the Nile from Luxor in 1997.
At the time, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak blamed the British government partly for the attack after the Egyptian terror chiefs responsible were given asylum in the UK.
The Sharm el-Sheikh resort has been targeted before in 2005 when two car bombs went off at the centre of the resort and another in the city’s Old Market while restaurants, cafes and bars were packed, killing 88 people and wounded 150.
Just last year an estimated 30,000 Britons were trapped in Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous country, split between Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Sharm el-Sheikh as violence broke out around the country while Egyptians protested.