Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Sources inside the investigation of the “Hezbollah cell in Egypt” case have revealed that the cell recruited members to serve in the name of the Palestinian “Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade” and also that five key suspects have acknowledged being former members of the “Muslim Brotherhood” organization in Egypt.
The same sources have also revealed that Egypt’s State Security Investigation Service’s [SSI] investigation into the case looked at the link between an employee of the Palestinian embassy in Yemen and a defendant in the Hezbollah cell in Egypt case. Adel Salman, a 1948 Palestinian refugee, along with two others, Mohamed Ramadan and Nadal Al Hassan, are said to be members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah movement. However sources inside the Palestinian embassy in Cairo, and the Fatah movement, deny having any knowledge of this operation, saying they have not seen any details of the ongoing investigation [into this matter], and they are awaiting the case’s transfer to court.
Malik Adli of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre who is representing a number of the defendants said “The report of the SSI investigation contains a lot of information that the defendants have denied…we believe that three quarters of these investigations do not include any detail with respect to [the defendants contact with others] whether in Yemen, Lebanon or Sudan.”
However sources inside the investigation said that Adel Salman admitted to knowing a number of the defendants in the Hezbollah cell in Egypt case through an Uncle that lives in Yemen who he visited almost three years ago. Salman acknowledged that his Uncle took him to the Palestinian embassy in Sana’a and introduced him to a member of staff who said he was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and invited him to join the movement. Salman was charged with collecting information on the Sinai Peninsula and the border region between Egypt and Israel, and he sent this information to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade member via e-mail. The sources added that a man from the town of El Arish in Sinai would check up on him, and paid him a monthly salary of $300. However Salman denied receiving any such salary, and “denies having any links to Hezbollah.”
In his confession, Salman said that the man who employed him [allegedly an Al Aqsa Brigade member] ordered him to monitor the border between Egypt and Israel, and claimed to be a member of the Fatah movement. This man also informed Salman two weeks prior to the arrest of the Hezbollah cell to lay low as there was a threat to him from Egyptian security. Salman was arrested in Al-Arish before was able to escape.
Malik Adli, lawyer to number of the defendants, described the report into the investigation as being “very large, three quarters of which is not accurate, including the recent stories with regards to Yemen, Sudan and other accusations of carrying out terrorist operations.” He added “The investigation says that the cell’s members took advantage of their relationship with the group present in Egypt, and their relationship with other international groups to undertake hostile operations in Egypt…the defendants have all denied this.”
Sources within the investigation added that Nasser Khalil Abu Omra has ties to approximately 90 percent of the defendants in the case, but that he only admitted to possessing explosives in the questioning [session] that took place with him the night before last. The source said that he was asked point-blank whether he was in possession of [a quantity of] explosive TNT, amongst other items such as Islamic books, computer hard disk and CD-ROM’s.
The source said that the questioning sessions ended with Nasser, who is considered to be defendant No. 3, and that he became extremely agitated after being accused of terrorism against Egypt and aiding Hezbollah in carrying out operations inside Egypt, and burst into tears and said that he did not think of harming Egypt.
Sources inside the investigation said that 5 of the main suspects are former members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a 1948 refugee from Palestine, these are: Hani Mutluq, Ehab Al Qaliobi, Nimr Fahmi, Nasser Abu Omra, and Nassar Gibreel.
Egypt’s High State Security Prosecution yesterday continued to question a number of the defendants under the supervision of Counselor Hisham Al Badawi. The prosecution questioned defendant Nasser Gibreel, about the “organized relationship between the [Sunni] Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the [Shiite] Hezbollah organization” according to the sources inside the investigation. Gibreel reiterated that he no longer had any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he had left the organization before joining the Hezbollah in Egypt cell. However Lawyer Hakim Adli said “Nasser [Gibreel] is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but ha s a friend who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Moreover, the Egyptian defendants [in the Hezbollah in Egypt case] and others that the investigation claimed were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade met face to face yesterday morning, and the defendants “acknowledged knowing one another.”
The source also said that a number of the defendants provided detailed confessions about their activities to the investigation, saying that their goal was to help the Palestinian resistance. The source added that “these defendants, that include Egyptians and Palestinians, confessed and they were feeling proud [of their actions], and exchanging jokes with the investigators, even though a number of them began to cry when the investigators of the Security Supreme Court officially charged them.”