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Egypt: Al-Qaeda terror cell was targeting embassies and churches - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egyptian riot policemen stand guard behind barbed wire outside the Police Academy where a hearing in the espionage trial of Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi is expected to open on February 16, 2014 in Cairo. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)

Egyptian riot policemen stand guard behind barbed wire outside the Police Academy where a hearing in the espionage trial of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi is expected to open on February 16, 2014 in Cairo. (AFP Photo/ Khaled Desouki)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Investigations into an alleged four-man Al-Qaeda terror cell arrested by Egyptian authorities earlier this week claimed that the group was in the process of planning attacks on Arab embassies and churches, and that the group’s members had received military training in Pakistan and that they fought in Afghanistan.

The four men—three Egyptian nationals and one foreign national—were referred to Cairo’s Criminal Court on Monday. They face charges of attacking military personnel and institutions, jeopardizing the safety of society, and attempting to overthrow the government.

Egypt’s Criminal Court on Tuesday also sentenced 77 Muslim Brotherhood members to three years in prison. The sentences came after Egypt’s military-backed interim authorities designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2013.

According to a statement released by Egypt’s Public Prosecutor, the four defendants are Egyptian nationals Amr Mohamed Abulela Aqida, Mohamed Abdel-Halim Hemida and Mohamed Mostafa Mohamed Ibrahim—the fourth, a foreign nation named Daoud Al-Asady, remains at large.

Investigations conducted by Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution Service claimed that the terrorist cell was targeting Egyptian soldiers, policemen, American and French tourists in Cairo, and Christian places of worship.

The investigation accused “defendant no. 1” of participating in armed attacks by Al-Qaeda and the Taliban on US, Afghan and Pakistani military infrastructure and personnel.

According to the Egyptian authorities, the defendants confessed that they formed a terrorist cell in 2013 and planned, but did not execute, terrorist attacks against the American and French embassies. Although the Egyptian Public Prosecution Service statement was clear in naming the four defendants, the subsequent Supreme State Security Prosecution Service statement referred to them only as numbered defendants.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry had released a statement on Monday claiming the arrest of a “dangerous terrorist” suspected in the January 24 Giza bombing. Egypt announced the arrest of Mohamed Ahmed Al-Taliawy, age 35, claiming that he had previously traveled to Syria and Libya to “engage in acts of terrorism and violence.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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