JERUSALEM – The al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called military wing of Hamas, is in Egypt to help oversee the creation of an independent Muslim Brotherhood militia, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
Hamas’s Brigades are training Muslim Brotherhood gunmen amid concern by the Egyptian Islamist group that anti-Brotherhood protests in Egypt could become more serious.
The security officials said that Brotherhood gunmen already have taken up positions in Cairo and other major cities to establish a presence there as a de facto security force opposite the police and the army.
The security officials further said the Egyptian army recently arrested some cells of the Qassam Brigades in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in an attempt to disrupt the creation of a Brotherhood militia.
The officials described an internal campaign by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to purge the military of independent commanders, replacing senior officers with those sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas is the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The information comes as a number of major opposition groups announced plans to stage anti-Brotherhood rallies in Cairo on Friday.
The groups released a statement at a press conference Wednesday explaining their demands include “holding President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to account for their crimes against Egyptians, the dismissal of the Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general and the immediate release of detained political activists.”
Several group leaders warned the protest actions could devolve into civil disobedience if the Brotherhood did not respond appropriately.