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Hezbollah vague on whereabouts of escaped prison members - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Hezbollah acted with the utmost discretion when dealing with issue of Sami Shehab, the escaped leader of one of its cells, who had been detained in Wadi el-Natrun prison in Egypt. A member of the Hezbollah Political Council, Mahmoud Qamati, recently confirmed the news of Shehab’s escape, revealing that he was safe, although without confirming whether he had arrived in Lebanon. Shehab is still in hiding since news has spread of his escape from prison. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in his latest comments the day before yesterday, was keen to avoid mentioning the issue, despite the fact that the focus of his speech was the Egyptian situation. Hezbollah MPs contacted by Asharq al-Awsat refused to comment on matter, describing it as “very sensitive”.

However, sources within Hezbollah told Asharq al-Awsat that “all we can say for sure is that members of the cell, and Sami Shehab, are fine”. They expected that “they are still on Egyptian soil; otherwise they would have been officially received by the party, and given a proper welcome”. The sources added that “the caution in dealing with this issue is to preserve the safety of our brethren, and their lives”. Reuters news agency has quoted sources close to Shehab’s family, saying that he has arrived in Beirut, but they refused to give more details.

The Hezbollah sources refused to consider Shehab’s escape a victory for their party, pointing out that “what happened was the result of the Egyptian popular revolution”.

They said “In the end, the issue regarding our [escaped] brethren will be resolved diplomatically, and it will end with their release, because the charges against them could not stand on one leg”.

Egyptian security sources confirmed last week that Sami Shehab, the Lebanese Hezbollah member, had escaped. He was convicted of plotting terrorist attacks on Egyptian soil, within the framework of what was known as a Hezbollah cell. His escape happened amidst the security chaos that engulfed Egypt and its prisons, as a result of the demonstrations demanding an end to the regime. Shehab fled from el-Natrun prison, where he was serving a 15 year sentence under a ruling issued against him and 27 other individuals on the 27th of April last year, by the Supreme State Security Court in Egypt.