Egypt has suspect in Schalit kidnapping

Hamas sources reveal Gazan university student arrested in connection with capture of IDF soldier.

Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
The Egyptian security services have arrested a Gazan university student in connection with the kidnapping of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit, sources close to Hamas revealed on Monday. The suspect, Ahmed Atta, 22, is the son of an Egyptian man and a Palestinian woman. The father, Mahmoud, previously served as an imam and has been wanted by Egypt's General Intelligence Service for nearly a decade on suspicion of membership in a radical Islamic organization and plotting terrorist attacks against government institutions and foreign tourists in Egypt, the sources said. The father is believed to have fled to the Gaza Strip when the Palestinians knocked down the security barrier along the border with Egypt for 11 days in January/February 2008. Egyptian security officers initially arrested Ahmed Atta shortly after he and his mother, Aisha, crossed the border from the Gaza Strip into Egypt several weeks ago. The mother has since been banned from leaving Egypt. After being interrogated about the whereabouts of his father, the student was released from prison. But earlier this month he was re-arrested in connection with the case of Schalit and has been held in a security installation since. The Egyptians believe that Ahmed Atta is linked in some way to the kidnappers of Schalit or that he knows where the soldier is being held, the sources told The Jerusalem Post. The sources claimed that the student was not linked to the case of Schalit and said it was rather "strange" that the Egyptian security forces were making an effort to find out where the soldier was being held. "This is not the first time that the Egyptians arrest Palestinians and question them about Schalit," they said. "We believe that the Egyptians are trying to help the Israelis find out where the soldier is being held." The Egyptians have also questioned several Palestinians who fled from the Gaza Strip to Egypt about the movements and hiding places of senior Hamas officials, including Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and the secret locations where the movement is said to be storing weapons. Palestinians who were wounded during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year and who were transferred to Egypt for medical treatment also reported that they were interrogated by intelligence officers about Schalit and Hamas's military capabilities. But this is the first time that the Egyptians have arrested a suspect in connection with the case of Schalit.