TEL AVIV, Israel – Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization have been arrested in Egypt for plotting attacks in conjunction with Iranian agents to destabilize the Western-backed Egyptian government, WND has learned.
U.S. and Israeli policy considers Fatah to be moderate.
A top Egyptian intelligence official, speaking to WND from Cairo, said his country arrested at least six members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, in conjunction with a massive alleged Iranian plot to launch attacks against both Egyptian and Israeli targets.
Egypt recently announced it arrested dozens of members of the Iranian-financed Hezbollah terrorist organization who are accused of plotting attacks inside Egypt. It is reportedly seeking the death sentence for the alleged ringleader of the plot.
Sources inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades did not deny some members of their organization were arrested for working with Iran and Hezbollah inside Egypt.
According to Fatah Brigades sources speaking to WND from Gaza, a cell of their group named the Ayman Juda Brigades were working with Hezbollah cells in Egypt. But the sources denied that Egypt was the intended target of their work. They claimed they were planning attacks against Israel.
WND’s Fatah Brigades sources said members of their group were recruited to Hezbollah via its operative Kayes Ubeid, who is a former Israeli Arab now residing in Lebanon, where he was accused of masterminding the 2000 Hezbollah kidnapping of an Israeli businessman, Elchanan Tannenbaum.
In a seeming public admission of their prior involvement with Hezbollah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leadership in Gaza yesterday released an official statement claiming they were severing ties with the organization.
But a source in the Brigades said this statement was dictated by Fatah’s political echelon and that the Ayman Juda Brigades cells of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades would still work with Iran and Hezbollah.
“We don’t recognize this statement,” said a Brigades source.
It was unclear whether the Fatah members were working against Egypt with their group’s official sanctioning. The Ayman Juda Brigades is a division of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is led by Ahmed Hilles, a Fatah strongman who openly opposes Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah leader who works closely with the U.S.
Still, Hilles is known for his close relationship with PA President Abbas and was one of the only Fatah leaders in Gaza to orchestrate resistance against Hamas when the Islamist group seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Two weeks ago, Egypt’s public prosecutor, Abdel-Magid Mohammed, announced the country had arrested 49 alleged Hezbollah agents on suspicion of planning attacks inside Egypt. The agents are suspected of establishing a vast terrorist network in Egypt focusing on targets inside the country as well as aiding Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip.
According to separate informed security officials with direct knowledge of the situation, Hezbollah, working directly with Iran, began setting up cells inside Egypt at least two years ago. The cells consisted of well over 80 agents, said the sources.
The goals of the cells operating inside the country include plotting to destabilize the Egyptian regime to advance Iranian interests, planning attacks against tourist sites with Israeli casualties in mind, aiding Hamas in Gaza and establishing a base of Iranian operations along the strategic Suez Canal.
One of the goals of the cells’ establishment, the sources informed WND, was to have proxies in position in Egypt in case of an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
The pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Egypt nabbed the chief of the Hezbollah cell, identified as Sami Shehab. The newspaper claimed Shehab confessed his cell surveilled tourist sites in the Egyptian resort cities of Taba, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, and tracked Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal.