Essam El-Erian, a leading member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has accused a former senior member of the Palestinian Fatah movement of plotting to undermine security in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
In an interview Saturday with the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, El-Erian accused Mohamed Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief, of recruiting armed elements in the peninsula through funds from the United Arab Emirates.
The senior Brotherhood figure did not rule out Dahlan's involvement in the abduction of Egyptian security personnel in Sinai 10 days ago.
Seven Egyptian security personnel, including an army conscript and six police personnel, were taken hostage by unidentified kidnappers in North Sinai two weeks ago and were released under ambiguous conditions ahead of an impending military operation six days later, on Wednesday.
"Dahlan employs 500-600 armed elements who are now wreaking havoc in Sinai and finances them from the UAE coffers," El-Erian claimed in the interview. "It's a disaster that such a situation prevails in Sinai."
Tensions between the UAE and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have been mounting recently, exacerbated by the UAE's arrest of several Egyptians linked to the Brotherhood leadership last January. The suspects were accused of forming a local Brotherhood cell with the goal of overthrowing the UAE regime.
UAE officials have reiterated charges that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group is linked to an alleged plot to topple the UAE government to serve an ultimate goal of establishing Islamist rule in all Gulf States.
Fatah has been swift to dismiss El-Erian's allegations. The movement condemned what it described as attempts to "smear its heroic history by associating its name with domestic issues in Egypt, in order to serve some beneficiaries of political parties and figures."
In a Sunday statement, the group lambasted what it perceived as constant and systematic attempts to incite anti-Palestine sentiment in Egypt.
Such attempts "would not reach their objective among the Egyptian people, who are filled with pan-Arabism and [support] for the Palestinian cause, and are able to discern the facts," read the statement.
The group also made it clear it does not involve itself in any activity "outside the scope of the movement's vision and regulations."
The statement also stressed that the group had strongly condemned the kidnapping of the soldiers and supported the Egyptian authorities’ attempts to combat terrorists and terrorism "regardless of their affiliations or nationalities."
The two ruling Palestinian organisations, Hamas, which is in power in Gaza, and Fatah, which is running parts of the West Bank, have long decried what they perceive as public campaigns to fuel paranoia about Palestinians' involvement in Egypt's security and economic problems.
These include common rumours circulating among Egyptians that hold Hamas responsible for public protests in Egypt since 2011 and for opening prisons during the 2011 uprising to release prisoners. Ongoing fuel shortages in Egypt are also regularly attributed to fuel exports to the Gaza Strip.
"This is not the first time the rumour-mongering bats of the Muslim Brotherhood circulate lies and illusions to cover up their failure and crimes of their militant gangs against Egypt and Palestine," Dahlan said on his official Facebook page last week.
Dahlan shifted the blame onto the Egyptian group, claiming that most of the terrorist groups that work against Arab interests, Egyptian national security and the Palestinian cause are offshoots of the Brotherhood.
"You have been the genuine allies and loyal associates of the US and Israel," he said. "Your lies no longer fool anyone."