Feeds

back to article Egyptian navy captures divers trying to cut undersea internet cables

A spokesman for the Egyptian military has reported that three scuba divers have been arrested in the Mediterranean as they tried to cut a submarine data cable owned by local telco Telecom Egypt. Egyptian submarine cable saboteurs Looks like a pretty low-tech operation Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his Facebook page that the …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Big Brother

The mystery of the mysterious operatives

> They now face interrogation as to their motivation.

I think that would "interrogation" . Of the kind we used to outsource to places like Libya and Syria before they got onto the shitlist for some reason.

> the same line that was damaged in 2008 by a ship's anchor

Hmm........

6
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

The don't seem to have the facial hair of religious zealots. A simple explanation is that they're would-be metal thieves who assumed the cables were made of copper. Thieves tend not to be very bright. At this stage, there's no need for conspiracy theories.

9
6
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

You don't go scuba diving in the precise location of a fiber-optic cable to steal copper.

It is plain old sabotage.

21
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

The other possibility is that they were innocently scuba diving and happened to be in the wrong place.

"Innocent until proven guilty" and all that.

At this point, it's not clear how much (if any) evidence the Egyptians have, other than "they were in a boat, with scuba kit, near a cable".

1
1
Silver badge
Happy

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

You also don't do much diving work with the typical "zealot" beard. Glorious beards don't help the seal on your mask.

22
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

In a week or two they will have a full confession irrespective of guilt. I doubt the US are behind it, more likely one of the more extreme anti western education / technology lot.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

@The lone lurker

"Agreed, I will not be surprised if the 'interrogation' reveals a large payment of US dollars into their bank accounts shortly before the job was carried out."

Wen I first read this comment, I thought it was really stupid. But after thinking about it a bit, I realized it was even stupider than it first appeared.

But just for the sake of amusement, why not give us your delusional reasoning as to why the US would want Egypt's internet cable cut.

19
1

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

At least the Egyptians have said expertise in house. No need for costly rendition flights!

4
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Judging by the look of their cylinders, they didn't get that hypothetical "payment in US dollars" in advance. They probably would have drown if the authorities hadn't shown up.

3
0

Re: @The lone lurker

Cut on the very same day that England draws New Zealand in the third test? Coincidence? I don't think so, and if you do you're clearly a Mossad/CIA/US Coastguard running dog capitalist lackey.

And stuff.

20
0
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

You don't go scuba diving in the precise location of a fiber-optic cable to steal copper.

You don't go banging against an oil pipeline with an axe to empty the contents into a bucket either.

Yet it still happens. Oddly enough, the only ones who get caught stealing oil are the ones who generated enough sparks to light it. They're the charred bodies left behind - one over there, the other over there... You get the idea.

Been said before: Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

10
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

"You don't go scuba diving in the precise location of a fiber-optic cable to steal copper."

Sure you do. Submarine communications cable does have copper in it; usually a copper tube. It could also be aluminum though. Then there are more stands of metal and more metal tubing. So there is more than just fiber optics in an underwater fiber optic cable.

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

More intriguing:

Even though there are plenty of Idorts in Need of Undorking in the more fanatic [#diety] segment who would believe simply cutting a cable would cure the Evil of the Internet, and would be quite happy to give their lives to have a go at it...

You. Just. Do. Not. Cut. A. Major. Cable. With. Your. Bare. Hands.

Given the power and traction you have underwater you need some serious equipment to get the job done. There's nothing in the pictures, or the other reports about this that shows:

-highly specialised equipment to do a clean cut.

-acetylene burners to do a rough job.

-explosives ( of the rather sophisticated variety, but it would look like a packaged turkey to most punters.)

YMMV regarding fanaticism, but this sounds like either a red herring, or a truly botched job.

1
1

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Alabamans?

2
1
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

No but outsourcing is still all the rage.

0
0
Silver badge
Meh

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

The don't seem to have the facial hair of religious zealots.

........

...By jove, Sherlock, I think you've cracked it!

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Cables appear on charts as anchoring hazards, the precise configuration and purpose of the cable generally does not.

1
0

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Judging from the state of the cylinders they're obviously members of BSAC.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Not a lot of cutting gear in the pictures.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

So purely from an academic angle, what *would* you need to cut through a major submarine cable? Does it vary from country to country (i.e. American ones being hardened more than Middle Eastern ones)?

1
0
Silver badge
Stop

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Many divers have beards. It keeps your face a bit warmer in cold water.

You just use Vaseline on it to stop your mask leaking.

I'd like to see some more pics of their kit if possible. Might be a better pointer to motivation/funding.

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Umm... don't they have steel sheathing to protect them, too?

And just how much stolen metal can you get in a dinghy anyway?

Theft was clearly not a motive, because they didn't have a big enough boat to carry much away.

1
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

An anchor, one would suggest, based on prior form!

1
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Judging by the picture, they appear to be cardboard cutouts

2
0
Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Looks like a photo of a photo.

1
0

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

I'm also curious about this but also, how do you repair one once it's been cut or more generally, how do you join two pieces of fibre optic cable?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

The other possibility is that they were innocently scuba diving and happened to be in the wrong place.

Possibly. OTOH if they were apprehended diving with cable shears or similar, probably not. Hopefully someone in the Egyptian security forces will check this before interrogating them. Also that they'll bear in mind that one wouldn't get far attacking an armoured submarine cable with a standard diver's emergency knife, so if that's the only blade in the picture they may well be innocent.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

what *would* you need to cut through a major submarine cable?

I've seen a cross-section of such a cable. They are built somewhat like an onion. Protective plastic sheath, layer of poisonous gunk to kill marine worms that eat throuth the sheath, layer of piano wires for strength. Repeat several times. Finally a very skinny core containing the optical fibres. Can't recall anything copper. Stainless steel would be a better bet for resisting seawater.

You could probably hack through such a cable with big manually operated wrecking shears (big lever, gears, ratchet type of thing - distant relative of a bolt cutter). A saw or knife would be foiled by the first layer of piano wires. Above water an angle grinder would probably also work.

BTW those marine worms are persistent little bastards. After the first attackers have died, the water will wash away the poison and corrode through the wire. And then they'll be back for another go. Iterate to eventual destruction, if a turbidity flow doesn't kill the cable first.

1
0
Meh

Re: @The lone lurker

If for some reason we wanted to cut cables we have Navy Seals, three guys in junk gear who didn't know enough to not get caught wouldn't cut it.

The whole "A bad thing was done, must be the US" thing is getting stale. Tinfoil hat stuff, like the people who think we invented aids.

Like you said, I'd like to see the the twisted reasoning for that. The US did it, of course, twirling their black mustaches and for an encore, tied their girlfriends to the railroad track and to finish up blew up the old sawmill.

3
1
Silver badge
Stop

Re: @The lone lurker

"three guys in junk gear who didn't know enough to not get caught wouldn't cut it."

Seriously?

Yeah, because guys with basic equipment have never been able to pull off anything that Americans have done and no criminal who ever got caught was capable of committing the crime in the first place.

I fail to see why having old air cylinders somehow makes these guys incompetent. I mean; I can fix a car, but my toolbox looks like the business end of an oil rig and a Snap-On tool has never even been within ten feet of it.

0
2
Bronze badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

Underwater cutting tends to be a bit dangerous as well, good chance of build up of explosive gas bubbles around you from what I remember.

0
0
FAIL

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

For a start we had no reason to, and secondly. We have operatives trained for this sort of thing. Most major powers do.

Again WHY would we do it? There is no reason why we would, and no evidence that we were involved in any way at all. All you have is the current "Americans are icky" trend that is fashionable with the tinfoil hat crowd.

2
1
Boffin

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

> But just for the sake of amusement, why not give us your delusional reasoning as to why the US would want Egypt's internet cable cut.

Think "Google".

0
0
Pint

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

I'm also curious about this but also, how do you repair one once it's been cut or more generally, how do you join two pieces of fibre optic cable?

Unsurprisingly, you do it with a specialised vessel and a metric fuckton of cash.

Video

As to the actual fibre splicing process? Dunno but I'd wager heat is involved somewhere along the line.

0
0

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

The Egyptian Navy probably apprehended the divers by virtue of stationing a patrol boat within a few hundred meters of the dinghy and waiting for them to surface. The divers, surfacing and seeing authorities (patrol boats look much bigger when viewed from two inches above sea level through a divers mask, trust me), deliberately or in panic disconnected/dropped whatever they might have been using back down to the seabed.

The Navy is presumably getting their own divers to search the local seabed for whatever evidence is actually there, or whatever they need to plant to convict these divers of whatever crime they're charging them with.

The point being, the current lack of evidence really isn't indicative either way.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

"Theft was clearly not a motive, because they didn't have a big enough boat to carry much away."

Are you saying that they're gonna need a bigger boat?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

" Also that they'll bear in mind that one wouldn't get far attacking an armoured submarine cable with a standard diver's emergency knife "

Karate chop?

0
0
Silver badge

@Anonymous (Noel) Coward

"> But just for the sake of amusement, why not give us your delusional reasoning as to why the US would want Egypt's internet cable cut.

"Think "Google".

You're gonna have to spell it out because your answer makes no sense.

The only people I could imagine wanting the cable cut would be Islamic fundamentalists. Under certain circumstances which are not operative at the moment (i.e. political unrest threatening to lead to the overthrow of the government) one could cast suspicion on the Egyptian government - but the Egyptian government would probably know better than to apprehend itself - especially if the people who *caught* the saboteurs are essentially the same people whom the Egyptian government would have tasked with committing the sabotage..

0
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives

For a start we had no reason to

Are you writing out of the State Department?

The one that puts out stuff about Ghaddafi handing out viagra for better rape?

0
1
Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Wow

Now that's what you call 'denial of service',

Could only be the work of their batshit insane US-funded neighbours,..

I see 220 volt nipple clamps in those three blokes future.

1
12
Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow

The Libyans?

2
0
Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Wow

Of course! You didn't think I meant those nice upstanding folk to Egypt's east, did you?

If they wanted to kill your internet connection they'd write a virus or send a few helicopter gunships to do the job.

Now where's my tinfoil hat?

0
1
FAIL

Re: Wow

If they wanted to do that, they'd do it in international waters (it's an international cable dude) and they'd have something a bit better than an f'ing dinghy.

As for the idiots who are saying 'Evil Americans, blah, blah, blah' - learn your history. If the US wanted to do this (no geopolitical reason, but hey, Bay of Pigs), they'd have outrigged. Crappy looking fishing boat with serious gear beneath it and have a bunch of SEALs on board dressed as Hippies/Gaza Blockade Runners/Evacuating Russian Gangsters from Cyprus. Did that little trick to lay the trans Pacific Submarine monitoring cable (listening for Comrade subs) in the 80s.

If not just yokels looking to steal then my money is on Iran or Syria- feeds the Middle East- not just Egypt. Won't find out, and you'll never hear from these guys again unless your the cleaner at the facility in downtown Cairo.

0
0
Bronze badge
Devil

I think I saw those blokes hovering around the roadside cabinet near my place, no wonder my bloody internet is so slow - bastards!

3
0
Headmaster

Those cylinders don't look like they're in test...

3
0
Silver badge

amen, I would not want to fill those let alone use them.

3
0
Silver badge
FAIL

"Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his Facebook page"

World.

Gone mad.

8
0

Re: "Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said on his Facebook page"

Um , I think the false premise here is that the world was ever sane.

2
0
Silver badge
Unhappy

An alternative is to tell fishermen to ...

clear the old copper cabes so they can make a little money on the side.

They did this is southern VietNam, off Ving Tau

Unfortunately, the fishermen being fishermen and not technicians, could tell the differnce btween old-style copper cables and the new fibre-optics, and as a result our InterNet speeds fell through the floor.

Recently fishermen from the Phils have been busy in the East China Sea, unless it was the Chinese fighting over the Spratly Islands, and our sea cables to Hong and further east have suffered damage.

0
3

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.