The papers this week brought us chilling news of an Egyptian company used as a front to sell and register apartments and land in the Sinai to foreigners, including Israelis. A thousand apartments were sold and registered this way, while some 800 square km of land were appropriated for the project (yes, 800 square km--the size of a small country).
According to the account provided by Hassanein Karum, published in Al-Masry Al-Youm on 31 March, it seems it was merely coincidence that led to the discovery of the gang. It began when a judge from the court of Ismailia, during a routine inspection, noticed legal verdicts issued by international arbitrators. Since these judicial rulings were clearly fraudulent, the judge began to follow the paper trail until he came across the first shreds of evidence pointing to the gang's activities.
The incident coincided with a complaint lodged by a judge who claimed that the apartment he owned in the Sinai Peninsula had been sold without his knowledge while he had been traveling abroad. This prompted a wide-ranging investigation that seems to have uncovered additional details about the gang and its operations.
And since the Egyptian security apparatus needs no reminder of the true nature and gravity of Israeli ambitions in the Sinai--which require it to constantly remain in the highest state of alert--it is only natural to wonder about the reasons for the security failure that led to this dangerous breach.
One doesn't have to be exceptionally bright to realize that the most likely scenario is that this company was a cell--a front--operating at the behest of Mossad, Israel's spy agency. According to newspapers that have covered the subject, Egyptians working for the company had traveled to Israel on numerous occasions.
Therefore, it's no longer possible to treat the case as an issue of negligence or corruption of the type we might accept or learn to live with. For negligence and corruption occur in myriad shapes and colors, some of which can be just as harmful as crimes of, say, national treason.
Despite the passing of 28 years since the liberation of the Sinai, when we look to the state of the peninsula today, and ponder what caused us to stumble so badly in attempting to develop the area, we cannot convince ourself that the reason lies with ordinary negligence and corruption.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.