Al-Qaeda targeted US, French embassies in Cairo: Investigators

Ahram Online, MENA, Wednesday 15 May 2013

Ongoing investigations reveal that members of Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist cell had plotted attacks against US and French embassies in Cairo, Egyptian state news agency reports

US embassy in cairo
US embassy in cairo (Photo: AP)

Investigations have revealed that members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group – who escaped from prison during Egypt's 2011 uprising – had planned attacks on the US and French embassies in Cairo, according to official Egyptian news agency MENA.

Investigations further revealed that members of an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist cell were in communication with a terrorist cell in Cairo's Madinet Nasr district, members of which are currently on trial.

Also on Thursday, Egypt's Supreme State Security Prosecution detained Egyptian national Mohamed Abu El-Ela on suspicions of being a member of a terrorist cell linked to Al-Qaeda.

Abu El-Ela, who is set to remain in detention pending further investigation, has been charged with having links to terrorist leader Dawood El-Asady, who is said to have directed terrorist operations in Egypt.

Abu El-Ela is also charged with helping El-Asady create a cell in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

He is currently being interrogated by security officers who also suspect him of planning terrorist operations against the Egyptian army in Sinai and the US and French embassies in Cairo.

Last September, Islamist demonstrators staged a series of rallies outside the US embassy in Cairo to condemn a US-made film mocking Islam. Ensuing clashes between protesters and security forces left scores injured from both sides.

Investigations also reportedly turned up three other suspected terrorists: Mohamed Abdel-Halim Saleh, recently extradited from Algeria to Egypt; Mostafa Ibrahim Bayoumy; and Amr Mohamed Eiqedah, extradited from Iran and jailed with Saleh in 2009.

All three are said to have escaped jail during Egypt's 2011 uprising, when hundreds of prisoners reportedly broke out of prisons countrywide amid a post-revolution security vacuum.

According to MENA, investigations have also revealed that the suspects had used certain internet websites to coordinate with Al-Qaeda and jihadist movements in Syria, Iran, Iraq and Morocco.

Eiqedah reportedly travelled to Iraq from Iran to join jihadist movements fighting US forces in Iraq and the Gulf. Iranian authorities reportedly arrested him in 2006 and extradited him to Egypt, where he was jailed – until he escaped in the immediate wake of the revolution.

Investigators said that the suspects had planned suicide attacks – with the use of car bombs – against the US and French embassies in Cairo.

Investigators also revealed that Eiqedah and Saleh had both been in close contact with the Madinet Nasr terrorist cell.

The suspects reportedly confessed to having been in contact with Al-Qaeda, but denied any plans to carry out terrorist attacks.

Investigators say that the suspects targeted the French embassy to protest recent French military intervention in Africa.

On 18 January, Egyptian security forces stepped up security around the French embassy in Cairo after dozens of Islamist activists staged a protest against French military intervention in Mali.

French military operations in the African nation were launched some nine months ago after Malian rebels – with alleged links to Al-Qaeda – seized the northern half of the country.

On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande stressed that France had "no intention" of maintaining troops in Mali.  

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