– 49 HIZBULLAH ARRESTED IN EGYPT
Egypt’s state prosecutor accused, on Wednesday 04/08/2009, Hizbullah of planning to carry out attacks inside Egypt, as Israel warned its citizens that they faced an “immediate and concrete” threat in the country. “The state prosecutor has received a statement from state security which shows that leaders from the Lebanese Hizbullah have called on its cadres to recruit members to its movement … with the aim of carrying out acts of aggression inside the country”. The prosecutor’s statement also accuses Hizbullah of “spreading Shiite ideology” (see – ABYSS IN ISLAM)
Egyptian security forces are questioning a group of 49 men, some of them were detained secretly already in 11/2008, accused of smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Tunnels on behalf of Hizbullah and Hamas. It is not clear when they were arrested, but a judicial source in Cairo confirmed that the prosecutor’s allegations are linked to their detention. The prosecutor’s statement also accuses Hizbullah of “spreading Shiite ideology.”
Rumors about the arrests of a Hizbullah network in Egypt of 50 or so operatives, some of them Israeli Arabs, were liked to the press already few days ago .
The group of detainees is mainly made up of Egyptian nationals, but includes three Lebanese and several Palestinians. The Lebanese are understood to be suspected of acting as coordinators between Hamas in Gaza and their sympathizers in Egypt. The suspected head of the network is a Lebanese- Hani Sami Shihab, who according to his name supposes to be a Christian from Lebanon, but is, in fact, a Shiite bearing the name Moustafa Mansour. Sami Shihab/Mansour stayed in Egypt since 2005 on a tourist visa and, pretending to be a businessman, rented apartments in Cairo and along the Suez Canal.
The Egyptian lawyer representing the men, Montasser al-Zayyat, said that interrogations of the men began over the weekend. “The information that we have is that they are accused of weapons smuggling through tunnels and spreading Hizbullah ideology,” he said.
He said the case had been created for political purposes. “My impression is that it is a fabricated case created by Egyptian security in the context of bad relations between Hizbullah and Egypt,” he said on Wednesday. Montasser al-Zayyat confirmed that 7 of the detainees were “Arabs Palestinians from 48” – the general term in the Arab world for Israeli Arabs (see – ISRAELI ARABS).
Hizbullah was highly critical of the Egyptian government’s decision to close the Rafah crossing point during Israel’s recent military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which saw more than 1,400 Palestinians, many of them civilians, killed (see – Cast-Lead Epilogue).
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities warned of a “serious, immediate and concrete threat,” against Israeli citizens in the Sinai desert during the upcoming Jewish Passover holiday. Officials in Tel Aviv warned that Hizbullah could be planning to abduct Israelis in Egypt and take them to the Gaza, and called for Israeli citizens to leave the area immediately. The warning is the latest in a series of statements aimed at discouraging Israelis from visiting Arab countries in the wake of the Jewish state’s assault on Gaza.
Israel issues regular warnings against potential risks to its citizens and has focused increasingly on Hizbullah since the group pledged revenge for Mughniyah’s Death, in Damascus, on 02/12/2008 night (see also – Mustafa Badr al-Din ).
Hizbullah’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, several times that revenge would come at “the time, the place, the way and the means” of the group’s choosing. Indeed Israel claimed its intelligence managed to foil some such attempts abroad in the last year (see – Operation-Abroad).
The arrests of the Hizbullah network in Egypt is linked to the growing effort to disrupt the flow of weapons from Iran to Gaza, through Rafah Tunnels. The Monchegorsk Case and the PORT-SUDAN Bombing are indications to a comprehensive cooperation between Egypt, Israel and USA to face the growing threat from Iran to the Middle East stability.
Three defendants, who were on the run and tried in absentia, including Mohammad Kabalan, the suspected leader of the group, were given life sentences (see – Hezballah-Network).
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