Questions arise over identity of slain Nasr City 'terrorist cell' member

Ahram Online , Thursday 1 Nov 2012

Conflicting reports emerge about alleged member of 'terrorist cell' reportedly killed in Nasr City last week by Egypt's State Security apparatus

Questions have arisen over the identity of a suspected member of an alleged terrorist cell reportedly killed in a police raid last week, according to a report by AFP.

On Wednesday, Egypt's State Security apparatus announced that it had begun questioning eight alleged members of a 'terrorist cell' in Cairo's Nasr City district, accused of planning terrorist attacks throughout the country.

Group members are accused of possessing weapons, planning the assassination of public figures, and seeking to topple Egypt's elected government, according to investigators.

State Security investigators also say the defendants had received military training in the capital's New Cairo district, and that they had been aided by a bomb-making expert.

On 25 October, one of the eight defendants – a Tunisian national named Hazem – was allegedly killed in his apartment in Nasr City as he attempted to evade security forces.

The man's identity, however, has since come into question, with state-run media issuing conflicting reports. While some reports have described him as a Libyan militant linked to 'Al-Qaeda,' others have stated that he was a Tunisian national.

The interior ministry has since issued a statement criticising the conflicting nature of the media accounts, but has not yet disclosed the dead man's identity.

On Wednesday, the ministry stated that Adel Shahtu, a leading member of the Al-Gamaa Al-Jihadiyah group, had been charged with founding the alleged group.

Shahtu is considered one of Egypt's most prominent jihadists. He spent 20 years in prison under the ousted Mubarak regime and was only released by Egypt's military council – which governed the country for the year and a half following Mubarak's ouster – in April of last year.

In an interview with private television channel Al-Nahar, Islamist lawyer Montasser El-Zayat described news of the alleged Nasr City cell as "fabricated" and an "attempt to re-assert the power of Egypt's State Security apparatus." 

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