Apr 9, 2009 14:23 | Updated Apr 9, 2009 18:32
'Hizbullah cell smuggled arms to Gaza'
By JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP
Forty-nine suspected Hizbullah agents arrested in Egypt Wednesday are also accused of smuggling weapons to Hamas in Gaza.
AFP quoted an Egyptian judicial source as saying that the suspects allegedly rented homes in Rafah, on the Gaza border, in order to carry out the smuggling.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian attorney-general accused the 49 of planning "hostile operations."
Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud said that the men were looking to "destabilize Egypt's general security" and had been assigned by Hizbullah to observe and collect intelligence from the villages along the Egypt-Gaza border, tourist sites in the Sinai, and the Suez Canal.
"They have been provided with quantities of explosives and the means to make bombs," said the statement, adding that they were tasked with "spreading Shi'ite ideology" inside Egypt.
Tensions have been high between Egypt and Hizbullah since the group criticized Egypt for not doing more to stop the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in December.
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah criticized Egypt heavily during the Gaza offensive and called on Egyptians to rise up and force the Rafah crossing open so that aid could reach the embattled Palestinians.
A Hizbullah spokesman had no immediate comment on the allegations. But Hizbullah's satellite TV station said that Egypt was attempting to ease its regional isolation through these accusations.
Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamist movements in Cairo called the attorney general's allegations "dangerous" and suggested they was motivated primarily by political considerations.
"Hizbullah doesn't have activities outside Lebanon, and if it has, it comes in support of group ... but it has no outside military activities," he said.
Egyptian lawyer Montassar el-Zayat told AFP that the detainees included Lebanese and Palestinians.
"The information that we have is that they are accused of weapons smuggling through tunnels and spreading Hizbullah ideology," Zayat added.
He claimed the arrests had been made for political reasons.
"My impression is that it is a fabricated case created by Egyptian security in the context of bad relations between Hizbullah and Egypt. It is a pressure card," he continued.