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Egypt Accuses Hezbollah of Planning Attacks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s state prosecutor on Wednesday accused the Lebanese Shiite militant movement Hezbollah of plotting to carry out attacks inside the country and spreading Shiite ideology in mainly Sunni Egypt.

“The state prosecutor has received a statement from state security which shows that leaders from the Lebanese Hezbollah have called on its cadres to recruit members to its movement,” according to a statement from the prosecutor obtained by AFP.

It charged that the campaign was launched with “the aim of carrying out acts of aggression inside the country,” and that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had appointed members of the group to carry out such actions.

A Hezbollah spokesman in Beirut reached by AFP had no immediate comment.

Egyptian police have arrested 49 people in connection with the case, the prosecutor said. It was not immediately clear when the arrests were made.

Montassar el-Zayat, an Egyptian lawyer who has often represented jailed Islamists, told AFP that Lebanese and Palestinians were among those held.

Zayat said lawyers had not been allowed to meet the detainees, but their families told lawyers they were being questioned about links to Hezbollah.

“The information that we have is that they are accused of weapons smuggling through tunnels and spreading Hezbollah ideology,” Zayat said.

He said the case was had been created for political purposes.

“My impression is that it is a fabricated case created by Egyptian security in the context of bad relations between Hezbollah and Egypt. It is a pressure card,” he added.

The men are suspected of having rented homes in Suez Canal cities to monitor movements in the canal and of reconnoitring tourist resorts in north and south Sinai.

They are also accused of renting homes in Rafah on the border with the Gaza Strip to smuggle weapons and contraband into the Palestinian enclave which is ruled by Hamas, another Islamist movement, a judicial source told AFP.

In December, Nasrallah, whose militant group is supported by Damascus and Tehran, slammed Egypt for keeping its Rafah border post with Gaza closed during Israel’s deadly offensive against the territory.

He accused Cairo of complicity in the Israeli blockade on Gaza and cast doubt on Egypt’s neutrality in efforts at the time to mediate a ceasefire.

Medics say more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza, launched on December 27 in a bid to halt Palestinian rocket fire and arms smuggling from Egypt.

Israel, which is determined to stop Hamas from acquiring weapons, announced a ceasefire to the Gaza war only after receiving assurances from the US and European countries that Hamas would be prevented from rearming.

Many goods smuggled into Gaza enter via a network of tunnels linking the enclave with Egypt.

But Egypt, which has taken increasingly robust measures to crack down on the smuggling, denies weapons are among the contraband, saying arms enter Gaza by sea.

The prosecutor’s statement also accuses Hezbollah of “spreading Shiite ideology” in mainly Sunni Egypt, which has repeatedly accused Iran of seeking to take over the region by spreading Shiite thought.

Egypt and Iran broke off relations a year after Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the pro-Western Shah of Iran in 1979.

Iran opposed Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and named a street in Tehran after the assassin of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was killed by an Egyptian Islamist militant in 1981.