CAIRO: The top U.S. diplomat for international counterterrorism coordination paid a surprise visit Saturday to the Sinai Peninsula apparently to view security efforts in a region that saw large bomb attacks on tourist resorts in past years.
Henry A. Crumpton arrived Saturday in north Sinai, where Egyptian security forces have launched massive sweeps in recent months searching for militants.
The sweeps were launched in the wake of attacks on three Sinai resorts that killed a total of 97 people; an October 2004 attack in Taba and Ras Shitan, then a triple-bombing in July in Sharm El-Sheikh. The area is also neighboring Israel which has complained of weapons smuggling to the Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip.
An Egyptian security official said Crumpton, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, came to see the situation on the ground in Sinai. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo confirmed Crumpton s visit but would provide no details.
Egyptian security forces have focused on Halal Mountain, a 1,800-meter (5,900-foot) peak that is full of caves and deep ravines and near the Israeli border.
Last week Israeli newspapers quoted Israeli top security officers as saying that Al-Qaeda terror group might have established bases in the Jabal Al Halal area in northern Sinai. Egypt has repeatedly denied any presence for Al-Qaeda in Egypt.
Crumpton heads the office that coordinates all U.S. government efforts to improve counterterrorism cooperation with foreign governments. AP