Egypt breaks four terror cells funded from overseas

Published: Updated:
Egyptian Security forces broke up four terrorist cells from Nasr City, New Cairo, Sayeda Zeinab, Egyptian media reported on Friday.

Investigations revealed eight men who helped form the cells received funds from overseas, according to the daily Al-Masry al-Youm.

The investigation suggested militant networks might have a foothold beyond Sinai and that Egypt could be attracting militants from other nations such as Libya and Tunisia, which like Egypt have toppled an autocrat who had kept a lid on militant Islam.

The men were in custody for 15 days then moved to solitary confinement. They denied charges for their attempts at overthrowing the government.

Last week, security forces carried out raids on militants holed up in Nasr City. One man, Karim Ahmed Essam el-Azizi, who was initially identified as a Libyan, was killed. A security official said on Wednesday that he was actually Egyptian.

The detainees possessed a cache of explosives, sniper and automatic weapons, 10 bags of TNT, rocket-propelled grenades, 83 explosive vials, missile launchers, anti-tank missiles, 63 bombs and explosive belts, explosive-laden phones, 199 detonators, nine boxes of explosives, 23 sniper bullets, half a kilogram of ball bearings along with instructions on preparing and installing bombs, and electronic circuits used to prepare bombs in Cairo’s industrial zone, the Interior Ministry stated.

Leader of jihadist group Adel Awad Shehto said he was unaware of the detainees from New Cairo or Nasr City. In addition, he denied possessing weapons and the accusations that he participated in planning nationwide terrorist acts.

The men criticized National Security Service saying it was no different from ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Tunisian detainee Mohammed Saeed Merghany said he came to work in Cairo’s technology industry, as recommended by the accused Nabil Abdel-Moneim. Merghany said despite being an expert in explosives he did not take part in illegal activities.

Another of the accused, former officer Tarik Abu al-Azzem said he was not part of the cell but friends with the alleged jihadist leader. He said he lost interest in politics after being involved in a criminal military case eight years ago.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. has been looking into the arrests of two Tunisian men detained in Turkey, reportedly in connection with the attacks on the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Sept. 11, in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed.