Hizbullah planned three simultaneous terror attacks against Israeli and Egyptian targets in three different tourist spots in Sinai, head of a Hizbullah cell in Egypt Sami Shihab told police in his investigation.
Parts of Shihab's investigation were published in Egyptian daily al-Ahram on Tuesday, and according to the report, the organization planned to publish an announcement after the attacks claiming responsibility for them.
The attacks were to be held in response to the assassination of senior Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyah, who was killed in a car bomb blast in Syria over a year ago. The organization holds Israel responsible for the assassination.
According to the report, Shihab gave "earth-shattering confessions" during his investigation. Shihab reportedly admitted that the organization's goal was to carry out attacks in Egypt, and not to aid Hamas in Gaza, as Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had claimed.
Shihab said he was ordered by the Hizbullah headquarters to carry out terror attacks on Egyptian soil and to target Israeli tourists and foreigners. Shihab said the cell was tasked with carrying out the attacks using suicide bombs, car bombs, and planting explosives among Israelis staying in Sinai, and in Dahab, Taba and Nuweiba in particular.
According to the report in the Egyptian paper, Nasrallah appointed his deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qasim to oversee the cell's activity and appointed Muhammad Qablan to work under Qasim.
Qablan was stationed in Egypt to set up the cell, and appointed Shihab as his deputy. Shihab had entered Egypt in March or April of 2008 under a fake passport by the name of Hassan al-Rol, and was under Egyptian intelligence surveillance.
Shihab moved to el-Arish, where he met with a number of the cell's members and supervised the production of explosive devices and belts. According to the report, Shihab was also ordered to arrange places to store vehicles the cell would use to travel around Egypt and to purchase materials to be used in the production of explosives.
The Lebanese version
Meanwhile, Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, that is considered to be affiliated with Hizbullah, published a different version of Shihab's investigation, that it said was leaked from Cairo. According to the report, Shihab claimed in his investigation that there was no intention of carrying out attacks on Egyptian soil, and that the cell only planned to infiltrate into Israel through Egypt to strike Israeli targets.
"The organization's wise leaders told us that Egypt is a red line, and that the goal was to aid Palestine," Shihab reportedly said, "The organization's leaders gave us strict orders not to harm Israelis in Egypt's territory in order to maintain Egyptian national security. They told us that entering Palestine was the goal, and that the goal was to fight the Jews there, and that Egypt should be kept out of any activity."
However, Shihab did admit that the cell was also tasked with monitoring the Nuweiba coast region and the road leading to Taba, and to monitor the movement of Israeli tourists in the area. Shihab also said that Muhammad Qablan was appointed head of the cell, "since he knew Egypt's character and lived there for a while, especially in Sinai".
According to the report, Shihab said the cell communicated with Hizbullah members in Lebanon by code, and said the code name for Israelis was "the neighbors". He also said that some of the cell's equipment was smuggled in the gas tank of the car they used. He said the cell also managed to smuggle a "small number" of "fighters" into Gaza for the price of $2,000 per person.