Egyptian police have arrested three men suspected of planning attacks on targets in Cairo and Alexandria, including a foreign embassy, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced Saturday.
Speaking at a news conference, Ibrahim said the suspects had been in contact with an "Al-Qaeda" figure in western Asia, as well as "elements responsible for receiving terrorist fighters on Turkey's borders" – a reference to militants reportedly overseeing the flow of Islamist fighters into violence-wracked Syria.
Ibrahim, however, went on to deny the existence of "any Al-Qaeda terrorist cells" in Egypt.
According to Ibrahim, police confiscated ten kilograms of ammonium nitrate – used in making homemade explosives –found in the suspects' possession.
The minister added that the three suspects were affiliated with the ultra-conservative Gamaa Jihadiyah group, suspected members of which were arrested last October and charged with establishing a 'terrorist cell' in Cairo's Nasr City district.
State Security prosecutors have accused the three suspects – Mohamed Abdel-Halim, Mohamed Mustafa and Amr Mohamed – of being members of the group, which he described as "banned."
Mamdouh Ismail, a lawyer for the defendants, told Ahram Online that his clients were also suspected of planning to travel to Syria to join Al-Qaeda’s 'Al-Nusra Front.'
Ismail said his clients had denied all charges, describing the case against them as "fabricated."