Terror in Cairo
Photo: AP

Egypt: Al-Qaeda trained terrorists in Gaza

Egypt says arrested seven 'Palestinian Islamic Army' members suspected of executing Cairo attack

Egyptian authorities have arrested seven people for being part of an al-Qaeda linked group accused of carrying out an attack on a famed Cairo bazaar that killed a French teenager, said the Interior Ministry Saturday.


The ministry said the suspects were part of a group called the Palestinian Islamic Army, which is led by two Egyptian nationals, who remain at large outside the country.


The arrested include two Palestinians, two Egyptians, a British-Egyptian, a Belgian-Tunisian and a French-Albanian woman, some of whom had entered Egypt as students.


An Egyptian security official said members of the group would sneak into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border to receive special training and instructions in the Palestinian territory.


One of the seven arrested confessed to performing the bombing last February at Cairo's Khan el-Khalili bazaar, but the official wouldn't identify him or her.


The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the group wanted to target other tourist sites in the country and oil installations in the western desert.


He said the organization was able to create weapons and explosive materials from leftover munitions recovered from the Sinai desert. Two women - one of whom was arrested - were responsible for transporting money to fund the organization's activities.


The blast last February went off in the main square of the sprawling market, which was packed with tourists and Egyptians - including more than 40 high school students from the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.


A government spokesman said the bomb was placed under a stone bench in a cafe where the French students were sitting in the square, next to one of Cairo's most revered shrines, the Hussein mosque.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which was the first against tourists in Egypt in three years. Islamic extremists have in the past attacked tourists in an attempt to hurt Egypt's biggest source of income.


Several experts on Islamic militancy in Egypt said the attack in February may have been carried out in anger over Egypt's pro-Israeli response to the IDF offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas in January and early February.


פרסום ראשון: 05.23.09, 18:08
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