Egyptian soldiers at the Rafah border crossing, August 10, 2012.
Egyptian soldiers standing guard on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, to cross over to Gaza at Rafah city, some 350 km northeast of Cairo, August 10, 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Egyptian authorities on Friday indicted a militant known as the "Bin Laden of Sinai" over his involvement in the attack in northern Sinai last Sunday, according to Palestinian media reports.

Egyptian troops and security forces detained nine Islamic militants in the Bedouin desert town of Sheikh Zuweyid, northern Sinai on Friday. Those arrested were believed to be behind the attack in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, and militants attempted to breach the border with Israel. Indictments were served against five of those arrested.

One of the five was 62-year-old cleric Silmi al-Hamadeen, known as the "Bin Laden of Sinai," according to the Palestinian news agency Maan. The five were allegedly involved in planning of attacks against Egyptian targets in the peninsula, including attempting to bomb the police station in Sheikh Zuweyid immediately after the revolution which led to ex-President Mubarak's ouster last year. They were also accused of membership and leadership of jihadi groups, smuggling weapons to and from the Gaza Strip, and planning to assassinate Egyptian officials in Sinai.

Indictments were also served against a 42-year-old vegetable-seller-turned-jihadi-operative, and a car dealer, also 42.  A fourth operative, 36, was found to be in possession of false Egyptian identity cards. The fifth was only 22-years-old. The five were transferred to Cairo under heavy security.

Their families deny the charges against them, according to the report.

On Saturday morning, the Egyptian army carried out an ambush on Bedouin smugglers on a road that leads from al-Arish to Rafah. The three Bedouins who were were subsequently arrested were found to be in possession of weapons.

The Sheikh Zuweyid arrests were the first reported in connection with last Sunday's Sinai attack, which sparked a major Egyptian military operation in the Sinai Peninsula aimed at stamping out Islamic militant groups that have become bolder and grown in numbers since the ouster last year of Hosni Mubarak.