Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5408 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 09CAIRO290, SMUGGLING TUNNEL DETECTED AND DESTROYED, SECURITY

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09CAIRO290.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO290 2009-02-18 09:09 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO5203
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0290/01 0490950
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180950Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1661
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000290 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2019 
TAGS: PREL PARM MASS MOPS PTER ASEC KPAL IS EG
SUBJECT: SMUGGLING TUNNEL DETECTED AND DESTROYED, SECURITY 
CONCERNS RAISED 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 181|09CAIRO257 VZCZCXRO5203OO RUEHROVDE RUEHEG #0290/01 0490950ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 180950Z FEB 09FM AMEMBASSY CAIROTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1661INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITYRHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITYRHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000290 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2019 TAGS: PREL PARM MASS MOPS PTER ASEC KPAL IS EG

SUBJECT:

SMUGGLING TUNNEL DETECTED AND DESTROYED, SECURITY CONCERNS RAISED REF: A. CAIRO 181 B. CAIRO 257 C. CAIRO 161 D. 2008 CAIRO 2480 Classified By: DCM Matt Tueller per 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: On January 28, Egypt re-started the implementation of a $23 million FMF-funded tunnel detection program along the Egypt-Gaza border, put on hold during Israel's incursion into Gaza. A new 24-man Tunnel Detection Unit (TDU) completed training on January 26 and is working alongside the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to accelerate the installation of seismic-acoustic tunnel detection equipment along the border. On February 3, ACE and Egyptian personnel inadvertently discovered a main tunnel after noticing that some installation equipment had been damaged. The ACE used the accidental discovery to train the TDU using FMF-provided equipment to map the tunnel, uncover five entrances, and eventually destroy the majority of the tunnel. This marked the first time Egypt has ever collapsed a main tunnel, a crucial step in deterring smuggling.

2. (C) Summary continued: Reports indicate that Egypt's increased efforts to combat smuggling (ref A) are bearing fruit. We have seen reports of frustrated smugglers and limited availability in Gaza of previously smuggled consumer products like fuel. Success comes with a price, however, and we remain concerned that angry smugglers could target American and Egyptian personnel along the Rafah border. We are taking steps to mitigate those potential threats. Continued Israeli air attacks along the Philadelpi corridor have also raised security concerns, especially among the Egyptian sub-contractors. On the larger political front, increased media attention on the tunnel detection program and Egyptian efforts to combat smuggling could heighten domestic and regional criticism that Egypt is complicit in Israel's blockade of Gaza, thereby endangering Egyptian diplomatic efforts to find a political solution in Gaza. Because of the potential security and political impacts associated with increased publicity of the tunnel detection program, we are advising USG visitors, including upcoming CODEL and STAFFDEL delegations, not to visit the Rafah border (ref B). End Summary. ------------------------------- Main Tunnel Detected, Destroyed -------------------------------

3. (C) On February 1, ACE personnel noticed that a previously installed 10-meter long piece of plastic piping and been cut, leading the team to discover a main tunnel approximately 4 meters below the ground and 440 meters from the Rafah border crossing on the Egyptian side of the border. ACE personnel used the accidental discovery as a hands-on training opportunity in exploitation tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP). The TDU used FMF-provided infrared sensors and electromagnetic induction (EMI) units to explore and map the tunnel, discovering five entrances in an open field. On February 3, the Egyptian military used explosives to collapse 75 percent of the tunnel, marking the first time Egypt has ever collapsed one of the unknown number of main tunnels running beneath the Egypt-Gaza border (Comment: Egyptian destruction techniques must be improved to ensure that tunnels are 100 percent destroyed to prevent them from becoming operational again. End Comment.). Previously, security forces would destroy entrances to the many feeder tunnels discovered, leaving the main tunnels intact and easily accessible through construction of a new feeder tunnel.

4. (SBU) In January 2009, MOD agreed to accelerate installation, condensing into one phase three previously planned phases along the 9 kilometers of the 14 kilometer border deemed suitable for tunneling (ref C). On February 15, the tunnel detection equipment began operating to a limited degree along a 1600 meter section. ACE experts expect full operational capability along the entire 9 kilometer stretch by early October 2009. --------------------------------------------- ------ Initial Success Breeds Security, Political Concerns --------------------------------------------- ------

5. (C) Initial reports indicate that increased Egyptian efforts to curb smuggling have already been successful. According to ConGen Jerusalem, Gaza contacts report that the flow of smuggled goods into Gaza has been significantly reduced since the beginning of February, including the CAIRO 00000290 002 OF 002 cessation of smuggled fuel imports since February 6 due to Egypt's increased counter smuggling efforts. Increased Egyptian efforts and numerous press reports of U.S. assistance have also raised more worrisome attention. One extremist blog encouraged supporters to kill American, German, and French experts helping the Egyptians install border surveillance equipment (Note: The German and French governments have only offered technical assistance but have not deployed any full-time personnel along the border. End Note). On February 8, a group of Egyptian teenagers threw rocks at an Egyptian armored personnel carrier providing security to the ACE project. Increased media attention could also jeopardize Egyptian diplomatic efforts on Palestinian reconciliation by intensifying heightened domestic and regional criticism that Egypt is supporting Israeli's siege of Gaza by refusing to open the Rafah border crossing.

6. (C) Continued Israeli air strikes aimed at destroying tunnels long the Philadelphi corridor between Egypt and Gaza has also raised security concerns, especially with the Egyptian contractors supporting the installation of tunnel detection equipment. On February 16, installation personnel were only given a 17 minute warning ahead of air strikes. The sixty ACE and Egyptian personnel working along the border had just enough time to seek shelter. The Egyptian sub-contractors are especially concerned that future warnings may not come in time. ---------------------------- Mitigating Security Concerns ----------------------------

7. (C) Post has no specific threats against Americans at this time. Potential threats to ACE and Egyptian installation personnel, however, will likely grow if Egyptian security forces continue to clamp down on lucrative smuggling activities. Post addressed security concerns related to maintaining American personnel at the Rafah terminal before installation began (ref D) and we continue to take a number of steps to mitigate threats including minimizing U.S. personnel at border, billeting U.S. personnel inside a Egyptian Border Guard Force (BGF) facility, and intelligence monitoring. At our request, BGF forces have also increased security at the installation site.

8. (C) Comment: The serendipitous discovery and consequent destruction of a main tunnel is a significant step forward for Egypt's efforts to combat counter smuggling. The tunnel detection program and Egyptian expertise is only nascent, however, and the project's full implementation - and more significantly its sustainment - will be challenging, especially as smugglers on both sides of the Egypt-Gaza border see their livelihoods being threatened. The potential for violent backlash by Bedouins involved in smuggling against Egyptians and Americans installing the equipment remains. We will continue to closely monitor the security situation and take steps to mitigate potential threats. End Comment. SCOBEY