Egypt Group Denies ‘Spy Cell’ Links

The Muslim Brotherhood has denied links with two of the accused in the so-called Hezbollah cell case in Egypt.

The denial came on Tuesday as Egyptian police extend their search for 10 alleged Hezbollah agents who they believe are hiding out in the country’s Sinai peninsula.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese political group whose military wing fought a war with Israel in the summer of 2007.

The men, who claimed affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, are two of 25 people being held in Egypt, accused of plotting to attack Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists at resorts in Sinai.

Egypt has also accused Hezbollah of providing aid to Hamas, the Palestinian group which controls the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abdul Munaim Abu al-Futuh, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group’s guidance bureau, said that any military action must come in co-ordination with the government.

"We have no relations with any of those [arrested]," he said.

"We believe that any military action, even if respectful, honourable and admirable, like what the [detained men] did [by supporting the Palestinian resistance], should be carried out in co-ordination with the regime and the Egyptian state, or any other state where a military action is being carried out."

Hezbollah Admission

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, confirmed over the weekend that it had sent a member to Egypt who was arrested in November on charges of smuggling arms and equipment to Gaza, but denied that the group is seeking to destabilize Egypt.

Tensions between Egypt and Hezbollah have been running high since December, when Nasrallah accused Cairo of complicity with Israel in its siege of Gaza.

In a new twist to the case, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday that foreign intelligence services provided the authorities with the intelligence that contributed to the uncovering of the alleged Hezbollah cell.

Philippe Vasset, editor of Intelligence Online, told Haaretz that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, and the CIA, the US intelligence agency, contributed information to Egypt that led to the uncovering of the cell.

Exchange of Fire

Overnight, an exchange of fire erupted between Egyptian security forces and bedouin in central Sinai where the search is being conducted, Al Jazeera’s correspondent said.

Egyptian officials said on Monday that the men were thought to have taken shelter in the town of al-Nakhl in the vast mountainous interior, where there is reportedly little security presence.

The Egyptian government has yet to provide evidence for its claims, but arrested 49 people, said to be part of the same cell, back in November.
(Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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