Egyptian policeman 224.8.
(photo credit: AP)
Egyptian security forces have uncovered a plot to murder Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen, the Cairo daily Almasry Alyoum reported on Saturday.
The would-be assassins, members of the Zeitun terrorist cell, had plotted since 2007 to shoot the ambassador and blow up both his home and the well-defended Israeli Embassy.
The newspaper report, which was based on accounts from Egyptian security officials, added that the state prosecution suspects the cell of intending to target Egyptian government institutions, including police and government offices.
The news comes after more than a year of investigative work by Egyptian security forces following the arrest of three members of the cell for a jewelry store robbery in Cairo in May 2008. The robbery was apparently meant to help pay for the operation.
The suspects told interrogators they were unable to get close enough to Cohen or the Israeli institutions to carry out their plans because of heavy Israeli security.
They also said they had contacted al-Qaida operatives, including a man named Abu Hamdan al-Libi, and planned to join the al-Qaida network in Iraq after killing Cohen. They said they had trained in Gaza for the attacks, and had planned to blow up many Christian and Muslim religious sites in Egypt, together with the Israeli-Egyptian natural gas pipeline.
Egyptian officials expressed doubts over the claims of the suspects, saying that they did not appear to be capable of carrying out all the operations they claimed to be planning.