The idea that saboteurs in wetsuits would dive to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea and cut a fiber optic cable, though not impossible, is highly unlikely, if only because doing so would be a good way to wind up dead.
“These cables are carrying thousands of volts of power,” Mark Simpson, CEO of SEACOM, told Wired. The company owns five undersea fiber optic lines running from South and East Africa to Asia and Europe. Attempting to cut such a line could easily kill you, he said, making sabotage “pretty unusual and pretty dangerous.”
That’s not to say it didn’t happen, and so far, it’s one of the explanations the Egyptian military has offered in the five days since naval forces arrested three men alleged to have attempted to cut an undersea cable off the coast of Alexandria. The head of Egypt Telecom said the incident caused a 60 percent drop in internet speeds.
The men have insisted they cut the cable by mistake. Egyptian officials haven’t offered any further details on what exactly happened to the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4 for short) cable beyond saying the military stopped a “criminal operation.”