TEL AVIV (Oct. 28)
The two Americans killed in a shooting Tuesday at Cairo’s luxury Semiramis Inter-Continental Hotel were in Egypt to discuss the possibility of laying a natural gas pipeline across the Sinai into Israel.
The Americans, both engineers, were identified as Coby Hoffman, 47, of Edison, N.J., and Robert Guidi, 47, of Rahway, N.J.
They were consultants for a subsidiary of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, the fifth largest gas company in the United States.
According to Jacob Liraz, a Tel Aviv attorney specializing in oil affairs, the two engineers were to have met with Egyptian energy officials the day after the murders.
They were then planning to travel to Israel for meetings Liraz had arranged for them with Israeli oil officials.
The laying of a natural gas pipeline between Arab countries and Israel is one of the energy projects proposed for discussion at the ongoing multinational talks in Washington and elsewhere.
The murders of the two Americans, along with a third man — Fernand Bouland, 54, a leading French jurist — were described by Egyptian officials as the work of a mentally ill man, Saber Abu al-lla, a 28-year-old musician.
He reportedly told police he was avenging the killings and rapes of Muslims in Bosnia.
Egyptian authorities were quick to point out that the murders were not a terrorist attack carried out by Muslim extremists.
Attacks on tourists this year by Egyptian fundamentalists bent on undermining the government of President Hosni Mubarak have virtually crippled Egypt’s tourist industry.