Some 25 Egyptians arrested in November are being questioned by prosecutors for allegedly planning terrorist attacks, a security official and a lawyer said Sunday.
Egyptian independent daily al-Masry al-Youm said the suspects planned to bomb the tomb of Rabbi Abuhatzira in the Nile Delta while Jewish and Israeli tourists visited the site.
The security official said the suspects were arrested on charges of stockpiling weapons and explosives to be used in "attacks against targets inside Egypt."
According to the report, the cell planned to bomb Abuhatzira's tomb during a celebration held there and to kill Jews and Israelis.
The men were arrested in Mansoura, northeast of Cairo, two months ago and are believed to be members of a new Islamic militant group. The official and lawyer both spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigations.
"They are accused of forming a new Islamic militant group based on ideas of Sayyid Qutb," said the lawyer referring to an Egyptian ideologue executed in 1966 whose ideas provide much of the intellectual basis for today's militant groups.
Abuhatzira's tomb in Egypt (Archive photo)
Al-Masry al-Youm reported Sunday that the group was also planning to attack US ships in the Suez Canal.
Quoting security officials, the paper also said the group was planning to ship weapons and explosives to Hamas for use in their rockets.
The report added that some of the suspects have received training in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur.
Egypt security forces have recently reported the arrest of several new militant groups looking to carry out attacks against Egyptian and foreign targets, mainly US and Israeli interests.
Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzira was born in 1805 and grew up in Morocco. In his youth, he studied under his father, Rabbi Masoud, and later became the Jewish community's leader.
He wished to immigrate to the land of Israel, but his community's objection prevented him from doing so.
He tried to immigrate to the land of Israel six times, and on his sixth attempt in 1879, he managed to convince the community to allow him to leave, since his son, Rabbi Masoud would serve as the community's rabbi in his place.
The rabbi left Morroco via Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, where he arrived in the city of Damanhour. During his time there, he fell ill and died on the 20th of the month of Tevet, exactly 130 years ago, and was buried there.
He wrote 12 books during his lifetime, and focused mainly on the Kabbalah. He was survived by four sons, and one of his grandchildren, Rabbi Yisrael is known to the public as Baba Sali of Netivot.
Roee Nahmias contributed to this report