Cairo: Today marks exactly one month until the official opening of the newly expanded Suez Canal, and sources in Cairo, the US and Europe warn Splash that Islamic State is intending to target the waterway as it pushes further into Egypt.
Last week saw more than 100 killed in bitter fighting between authorities and Islamic State militants in Sinai. The canal is now on a high alert for attacks, Splash understands.
A new anti-terrorism law is being rushed through and the military government is now viewing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood from the previous regime in the same context as Islamic State fighters.
“I’d say you can bet there will be more violence on the canal and don’t be surprised if you see yet another attack on ships transiting the canal in 2015. And I’d wager this attack will end with both loss of life and significant environmental damages,” Kevin Doherty, president of Nexus Consulting, an American security expert, told Splash today.
In September 2013, a giant Cosco boxship transiting the canal came under RPG fire from a brigade linked to al-Qaeda.
A security source in Cairo also told Splash: “Both Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood will do everything in their powers to try and disrupt the opening of the canal next month.”
Trying to cool the terrorist speculation, Aly Fahmy Hashish, managing director of diverse Egyptian maritime conglomerate Intership, told Splash: “Despite the latest fierce Sinai attacks, I believe the Egyptian state will do everything in its capacity to launch the new Suez Canal on August 6… Extensive security measures are currently being deployed in order to fulfill this aim.”
A new 72 km-long channel is due to open next month which will allow convoys to head in both directions of the key waterway for the first time in its 146-year history.
Concluding, Nexus’s Doherty said: “Shipping companies really need to start thinking about or revisit older plans for alternative route planning in case of terrorist disruptions in the main travel lanes of the Med, Suez, West Africa, and Asia.”