'Hizbullah cell posed as Aksa Brigades'

Leaders of group caught in Egypt reportedly pretended they were recruiting for Fatah armed wing.

aboul gheit 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
aboul gheit 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
Leaders of the alleged Hizbullah terror cell caught in Egypt recruited operatives pretending they were being drafted to Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades, A Sharq Alawsat reported Monday morning. On Sunday, the London-based paper said that among the detainees were two Arab Israeli residents of the Sinai and five Muslim Brotherhood members. The two Israeli Arabs, Nimr Fahmi and Nasser Abu Omar, have admitted to providing information to Mansour and to another Hizbullah leader, Muhammad Qablan, on five Egyptian towns that border Israel, the paper said. The suspects were tasked with acquiring information about the villages, such as the number of medical units, residents, schools, entrances and exits, and on places in southern Sinai from where one could infiltrate Israeli. Meanwhile, according to a report in Sunday's pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Egyptian state security prosecutors have requested the harshest penalty, which includes the possibility of a death sentence, for the man accused of leading the terror cell that plotted attacks in the country. The main suspect, whose real name is Muhammad Yousef Mansour but is known as Sami Shehab, is accused of joining "a clandestine and illegal group that aimed to overthrow the regime, threaten public peace and violate laws, using terrorism as the means to achieve these goals," the London-based paper said. Egyptian officials have accused Hizbullah of organizing a 49-member cell that plotted attacks against Israeli and Egyptian targets. About half of the members are believed to have been arrested so far. Shehab, a Lebanese citizen, has also been accused of espionage for a foreign organization, Hizbullah, and supplying prohibited information without authorization, receiving military and material aid from a foreign entity illegally, and possessing weapons and explosives "in order to terrorize the citizens and commit crimes," the paper said. Prosecutors have asked for the harshest possible punishment for Mansour under Egyptian law, "the death sentence or life imprisonment if terrorism is the means used to achieve or carry out goals called by for a particular group." Mansour's lawyer, Muntasser al-Ziyat, however, argued that his clients' interrogations should be declared invalid since they occurred during the night, with each session lasting more than 10 hours, and were conducted without taking into account his client's mental or physical state. Ziyat told the paper that the confessions were coerced from Mansour, "who was detained for more than five months in an illegal detention center." Security sources also told A-Sharq al-Awsat, in a report published on Sunday, that Hizbullah intelligence had conducted geographic and social surveys of a number of Egyptian villages on the Israeli border. On Thursday, an Egyptian newspaper reported that two Palestinian Fatah members accused of belonging to the Hizbullah cell planned to carry out a major suicide attack in Tel Aviv. They were arrested a few weeks ago and are being questioned by prosecutors, according to the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. Meanwhile, an Egyptian lawyer representing the ruling party has filed a lawsuit demanding that Hizbullah's Al-Manar satellite TV station stop transmitting on the Nilesat satellite frequencies, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday. The lawsuit also asks that Al-Manar's license to transmit be canceled in light of the Hizbullah cell that was recently discovered in Egypt. "The Al-Manar satellite channel is the tongue of Hizbullah, which began recently to broadcast false news about Egypt, describing her as an agent and as taking care of the Jewish interest and seeking to achieve the Zionist agenda, which is an insult for the government of the state, its president and her people," the lawsuit stated. The TV station also caused confusion among neighboring peoples and created chaos between different sects, according to the lawsuit. Egyptian security forces uncovered five smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border on Saturday, Israel Radio reported. The openings of the tunnels were found in the Egyptian part of Rafah, a town cut in half by the Gaza-Sinai border. Food, motorcycles and computer components were inside the tunnels, according to the Egyptians. Egyptian security officials said Saturday that the tunnels would be destroyed. Also on Sunday, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, called for dialogue between Egypt and Hizbullah, saying that he considered the rift between the two to be "differences of opinion." Berri said he could guarantee that Hizbullah was not planning to strike tourist or strategic targets in Egypt. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded by saying that Cairo did not need a mediator for this issue as it was being handled by the country's judicial system. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.