Egyptian officials believe Sinai terrorists used Nazi World-War era mines to manufacture bombs used in a 2004 terror onslaught in and near the Taba tourist resort in which 34 people, including 12 Israelis, were killed.
According to a report in Newsweek on Wednesday, the Islamic State terror group has also found a way to extract World War II-era landmines without detonating them and to use them as a source for explosives in the terror war it is waging in the Sinai Peninsula.
There are thought to be some 17 million landmines in the Sahara desert in territories belonging to Egypt and Libya, buried there by Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and his allies from the army of Fascist Italy.
Egypt’s landmine clearance chief, Fathy el-Shazly, told Newsweek: “We’ve had at least 10 reports from the military of terrorists using old mines. Even now, these things trouble us in different ways.”
In the October 7, 2004 bombings, a truck drove into the lobby of the Taba Hilton and exploded, killing 31 people and wounding some 159 others. Ten floors of the hotel collapsed after the explosion. There were two more bombings at Nuweiba nearby.
Of the 34 who were killed in total, 18 were Egyptians, 12 were from Israel, two from Italy, one from Russia, and one was an Israeli-American.
The terrorists who carried out the attacks were Palestinians who had previously tried unsuccessfully to enter Israel, Egyptian officials at the time said. The bombers used washing machine timers, mobile phones and modified gas cylinders to build the bombs, which used TNT and old explosives found in the Sinai and purchased from Bedouins.
Some 7,000 Egyptians have been killed by landmines in north-western Egypt since World War II ended, the Daily Mail reported. Since 2006, local Bedouin tribesmen have suffered 150 casualties.
Now, IS and its Sinai Peninsula affiliate organization, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, have also found a way of extricating the mines without setting them off and then using the explosives inside them to make improvised explosive devices (IED).
In March an attack by such an improvised device left five Egyptian soldiers dead near the Red Sea coast.
There are other World War II-era weapons circulating in the Middle East, experts say.
One Syrian rebel group was seen using a 70-year-old howitzer, the Mail reported.
N R Jenzen-Jones, an arms consultant, told Newsweek: “We’ve seen several dozen British Webley revolvers previously or presently for sale, and then some Italian cavalry carbines, some Mausers, Bren guns.”