WASHINGTON – Egypt
assassinate Muhammad Jamal al-Namnam, a senior member of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Army of Islam organization, Time magazine reported Thursday.
The terrorist, who carried out attacks against Israel in the past and planned to target Israelis and Americans in Sinai, was killed
last week after his car exploded in Gaza City.
According to Time, the missile which hit the car arrived from an Israeli helicopter, and the death was not routine. Israel has refrained for months from targeted killings from the air as long as Hamas has held back from firing rockets into Israel.
Namnam was tracked and killed, Time said, after Israeli security officials learned that he was preparing a terror attack on US forces stationed in the Sinai Desert.
According to Time, the information on Namnam's plans was received from Cairo after Egyptian intelligence learned of the plot from Army of Islam operatives captured in Sinai earlier during a routine operation to interdict arms and explosives on smuggling routes that run across the vast expanse from Sudan to Gaza.
The multinational force operating near the Gaza Strip is comprised of 1,600 soldiers – 700 of them American. According to Time, the Army of Islam plot was aimed at a base located about a dozen miles west of Gaza.
Sharing the intelligence on Namnam with their Israeli counterparts marks a level of Egyptian cooperation not seen by the Jewish state in years, Time said. "Egypt is helping much more," a security source in the region told the magazine.
The change in the Egyptian approach is related to the uncovering
of a Hezbollah
terror cell in Sinai. "They bought apartments near the Suez, speedboats, cars," a security source told Time. "They built a very big infrastructure around not only Gaza smuggling but also targeting Sinai tourism."
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak feared that this infrastructure may be used in the future to bring down his regime.