Egyptian authorities arrested 13 people who planted bombs along the Suez Canal in an alleged effort to interrupt shipping through the waterway. One of the detained suspects is an employee of the Suez Canal Authority. Prosecutors say the members of the cell had already laid explosives on beaches and in sanitation and electricity facilities along the canal before they were detained. All 13 of the suspects are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization that Egyptian authorities consider a terrorist group and routinely accuse of plotting anti-government activities.
As a critical part of the global supply chain, the Suez Canal represents a major target for anti-government groups seeking to cause disruptions in Egypt. Around eight percent of all seaborne trade, including about 6,000 container ships, passes through the canal each year, underscoring the potential economic impact if the waterway was forced to close. Islamic extremists have repeatedly sought to carry out attacks on the Suez Canal in recent years, highlighted most notably when terrorists struck a passing containership with a rocket-propelled grenade in August 2013. Such incidents illustrate the vulnerability of the 120-mile-long waterway, despite relatively strong efforts by Egyptian security forces to provide protection for the canal and transiting vessels.