Egypt arrests over 100 terror suspects

Security sources say cells planned 3 bombings; explosives, weapons found in suspects' possession.

Egyptian policeman 224.8 (photo credit: AP)
Egyptian policeman 224.8
(photo credit: AP)
Egyptian security forces recently arrested more than 100 people throughout the country who are suspected of plotting terror attacks. Security forces are referring around 110 suspects to the supreme state security prosecution, security sources told the Egyptian independent newspaper Al-Masri Al-Yawm. They said three cells, led by operatives from outside of Egypt, had allegedly planned bombings in three large cities and that they had espoused an ideology of takfir, or accusing others of infidelity. Large quantities of explosives and weapons were found in the suspects' possession, as well as maps of official institutions in the country. The suspects are also being accused of using mosques to propagate their ideology, trying to instill a Jihadist world-view in students from Al-Azhar University and recruiting them to carry out their plans. The defendants deny the accusations against them. Analysts said the arrests could very well be genuine attempts by Cairo to clamp down on al-Qaida-inspired terrorism, but caution there are likely to be political motives behind such arrests. Mubarak's regime faces fierce criticism inside the country, compounded by the food crisis and price hikes of basic commodities. Given the criticism, it stands to reason that Cairo would wish to deflect attention from these problems and these arrests come at an opportune time, analysts said. Cairo is under pressure from the United States and Israel to reform its human rights situation after hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in Egypt, were arrested ahead of the local elections in April. Egypt has also been accused of not doing enough to stop the smuggling of weapons and terrorists through tunnels from Sinai to the Gaza Strip. It is possible Cairo wishes to prove to Washington that it is making genuine attempts to clamp down on terrorism and improve its standing in the US. Last week members of the US Congress proposed a resolution calling on the Egyptian government to respect human rights and freedoms of religions and expression in Egypt.