Suspect in 2011 police kidnapping linked to Al-Qaeda: Egypt investigators

Sayed Gamal El-Din , Monday 17 Jun 2013

Man detained for suspected involvement in 2011 kidnapping of three police officers in Sinai Peninsula is member of Al-Qaeda militant group, investigations reveal

Al-Qaeda
File photo: Egypt's security forces arrest suspected militants after a firefight at the Al-Goura settlement in Egypt's north Sinai region, 12 August(Photo: Reuters)

One of the men detained by authorities on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of three police officers in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in February 2011 is a member of the militant Al-Qaeda group, according to investigations by State Security prosecutors.

Members of a terrorist cell affiliated with Al-Qaeda, who had escaped from Egyptian prisons during the January 2011 uprising, had planned and executed the police officers' abduction, according to investigators.

Egypt's State Security Prosecution has ordered the continued detention of the suspect, Mohamed Abdel-Halim Hemeida Saleh, pending further investigation. Other suspects who were not found to be linked to the militant organisation, meanwhile, were released by authorities.   

Saleh currently faces charges of belonging to a terrorist group called 'Ahmed El-Kilany' and of involvement in the kidnapping in Sinai of three soldiers and a low-ranking police officer, all of whom were held hostage in the peninsula's mountainous Al-Halal region.

Saleh also faces charges of involvement in a spate of attacks on Egypt's gas pipelines to Israel and Jordan in the wake of the revolution.

Salah is further believed to be linked to a militant group called 'Yousef Hammad,' thought to be responsible for the pipeline attacks, and to the militant group 'Soliman El-Balhimy,' believed to be responsible for attacks on a police station in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish.

The two groups derive their names from Egyptian militants who escaped from Egypt's Abu-Zaabal Prison during the 18-day uprising in early 2011. The two men are believed to have escaped to the Palestinian territories.    

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