BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt says 40 militant cells captured past month

The wreckage of a tour bus that was targeted by a suicide bombing on February 16 is seen in the Egyptian south Sinai resort town of Taba on February 18, 2014. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

CAIRO: Egypt's top security official on Monday sought to build claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is backing terrorism, showing alleged confessions of militants saying they received funds from members of the group to attack police and the military.

The Brotherhood has denied any link to the wave of militant attacks on security forces, which escalated since last summer in retaliation for the military's outer of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on his Islamist supporters.

The Brotherhood says government accusations that it backs the campaign of violence are aimed at justifying authorities' drive to crush the group.

Militant violence first flared in the restive Sinai Peninsula but has since spread to the capital Cairo and cities of the Nile Delta, including bombings of police positions and assassinations of senior officers. Two groups have claimed responsibility for most attacks - the al-Qaida-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, and a newer group called Ajnad Misr, or Egypt's Soldiers.

At a press conference Monday, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said security forces have uncovered 40 "terrorist cells" since April and proclaimed that authorities are in "decisive stage in curbing terrorism."

He aired the confessions of five alleged militants, saying they had masterminded a number of attacks. Some of their plots were foiled, Ibrahim said, but others were carried out, killing five senior police officers by planting explosives in their vehicles or posts or by drive-by shootings in the greater Cairo area.

In the confessions, one of the militants, who identified himself as Abdullah Hussein, said he had fought in Syria's civil war alongside Ahrar al-Sham, a member of an umbrella group of Islamist rebel factions in Syria. He said he trained there in weapons and explosives, then returned to Egypt three months ago and plotted the attacks on police and military.

The contents of the confessions could not be independently confirmed.

An alleged member of the same cell said in his confession that Hussein received money from a top ally of the Brotherhood, Wagdi Ghoneim, and from a teacher who belongs to the Brotherhood.

A member from a second uncovered cell Sayyed Ali claimed to have received support from another Muslim Brotherhood member named Mohammed el-Sabbawi, whom the minister said was arrested but didn't appear on TV screen.

Egypt's Interim government has branded the group as a terrorist organization and has moved to crush continuing protests by Morsi supporters, arresting more than 16,000 and killing hundreds.

 

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Summary

Egypt's top security official on Monday sought to build claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is backing terrorism, showing alleged confessions of militants saying they received funds from members of the group to attack police and the military.

The Brotherhood has denied any link to the wave of militant attacks on security forces, which escalated since last summer in retaliation for the military's outer of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the subsequent crackdown on his Islamist supporters.

In the confessions, one of the militants, who identified himself as Abdullah Hussein, said he had fought in Syria's civil war alongside Ahrar al-Sham, a member of an umbrella group of Islamist rebel factions in Syria. He said he trained there in weapons and explosives, then returned to Egypt three months ago and plotted the attacks on police and military.


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