Egypt to Hezbollah: We'll strike back if you attack us
Asharq al-Awsat: Hezbollah agent told Egyptian interrogators cell plotted attacks on Israeli targets.
Egypt relayed a scathing message to Hezbollah, demanding that the Lebanon-based Shi'ite organization publicly vow to respect Egypt's sovereign territory and to disclose specific details of its clandestine activities inside the country, the editor of the Egyptian newspaper A-Shuruk revealed Monday in an interview to Al-Arabiya television.
The Cairo government threatened to act against Hezbollah if the group does not meet its demands. Egypt passed the message along to the Lebanese government and not directly to Hezbollah, according to the editor, Abd el-Azim Hamad.
A-Shuruk was the first publication to report on the Israeli air strikes against weapons smugglers in Sudan. Hamad said that Egypt's demand that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah use caution in his words and refrain from attacking targets inside Egypt was unequivocal.
A Hezbollah agent arrested in Egypt last week told investigators his cell was planning attacks on Israeli targets to avenge the killing of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Monday.
Sami Shehab, the Hezbollah operative, said his cell surveilled tourist sites in Taba, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh and tracked Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal, according to the newspaper.
Shehab was one of 49 alleged Hezbollah agents arrested by Egypt last week on suspicion of planning attacks aimed at destabilizing the country.
Egyptian police are tracking down 13 members of an alleged Hezbollah cell believed to be hiding out with Bedouins in the Sinai peninsula, a security official said Monday.
The men are thought to be 10 Lebanese and three Sudanese - part of a group of 49 members of an alleged Hezbollah cell that the government announced is plotting to attack Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the men had taken shelter in the central Sinai town of al-Nakhl.
Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's second-in-command, was assassinated in a February 2008 car bombing in Damascus. Hezbollah blames Israel for the killing, and has threatened to carry out attacks to avenge it. Israel denies involvement in the assassination.
Nasrallah, meanwhile, has rejected Egyptian the accusations but confirmed over the weekend that it had dispatched an operative to Egypt - a rare acknowledgment that the Lebanese militant group was operating in another Arab country.
Nasrallah said Shehab was arrested Nov. 19 along with other Egyptian and Palestinian citizens on charges of smuggling arms and equipment to Gaza through the Egyptian border.
Late Sunday, Egypt's attorney general added espionage to the charges against 49 alleged Hezbollah agents.
Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud told Egypt's state run news agency MENA that the alleged agents, including Lebanese, Palestinian, Egyptian and Sudanese nationals, have been spying for a foreign group intending to carry out terrorist attacks in Egypt.
Members of the Hezbollah cell were said to have bought ingredients to make explosive devices at a Cairo market, which they smuggled into the Gaza Strip and Israel along with terrorists, according to reports in Arab press.
Shehab, a Lebanese national, was apparently Hezbollah's main operative in Egypt. According to reports, he smuggled arms into Gaza and often presented himself as a Palestinian residing in Syria.
He fought against Israel Defense Forces soldiers in southern Lebanon, according to the Al Hayat daily, and took on intelligence and logistical assignments after being wounded in fighting.
In his first comments on the affair, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Lebanon's prime minister in a phone call on Sunday that Egypt "will not allow anyone to violate its borders or destabilize the country."