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12. Bin Laden ’behind Luxor strike’

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Article title: 
12. Bin Laden ’behind Luxor strike’
Publishers: 
Year: 
1999
Week: 
21
Article number: 
12
Date of source: 
May 20-26, 1999
Author: 
Christine Hauser
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Article summary: 

Switzerland’s federal police chief said on May 13 that Egypt believed Saudi-born Osama Bin Laden financed the 1997 attack by militants in Luxor in which 58 foreigners, most of them Swiss, were killed.

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Switzerland’s federal police chief said on May 13 that Egypt believed Saudi-born Osama Bin Laden financed the 1997 attack by militants in Luxor in which 58 foreigners, most of them Swiss, were killed.


Urs von Daeniken told a news conference in Cairo that Egypt suspected that Mustafa Hamza, a leader of Egypt’s biggest militant group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyya, had ordered the attack from Sudan with funding from Bin Laden.


"As far as we know today one can conclude that it is an act of the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyya and that it has been ordered directly or indirectly by a Gamaa member staying in Sudan," he said.


He named the member as Hamza and said it was believed he was no longer in Sudan and might now be in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden is based.


"The finance man of this member of Gamaa seems to be Bin Laden," von Daeniken said. He said this was Egypt’s version of events, and added: "I think so far we are satisfied."


Von Daeniken was part of a Swiss delegation, including Attorney General Carla Del Ponte, visiting Egypt this week to get a final report and answers to 116 questions about Cairo’s investigation of the November 1997 massacre in which 35 Swiss died.


Eighteen months after the attack, Cairo has still not given Switzerland a final report on the bloodiest militant attack on tourists in Egypt for which the Gamaa claimed responsibility.


Del Ponte said Egypt was still investigating the massacre, in which four Egyptians were also killed.


Swiss Ambassador Blaise Godet said Egypt had made a new promise to provide, within 15 days, answers to questions Switzerland had sent Cairo in December.


Von Daeniken said the questions included where the killers obtained their weapons, how they had reached Luxor, where they had been before, and what was the background to the attack.


The Swiss team, which met the Egyptian interior and justice ministers, also wanted to know what had happened to the money and valuables of some of the victims.


Godet said Switzerland had asked for compensation but Egypt feared this could set a precedent and the issue was not discussed during the visit.


The six Egyptian attackers turned the 3,500-year-old Queen Hatshepsut temple in the southern resort of Luxor into a bloodbath when they shot or hacked their victims to death.


Egyptian officials say police chased and shot dead five of the gunmen in nearby hills, while one was killed by his comrades, apparently because he was wounded.


Del Ponte said the Swiss team was given a photo of the last of the six killers to be identified but it showed him dead. "We are waiting for a photo of when he was alive," she said.


Apart from the 35 Swiss, 10 Japanese were killed, along with British, German and Colombian tourists.


"I think Luxor was a turning point in the security assessment," von Daeniken said. "What we can see today is a lot of things have been done by Egyptian authorities."


Militant violence has dwindled since Luxor and in March Gamaa leaders declared support for a unilateral cease-fire.

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