Egyptian President Speaks Out

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CAIRO - For the first time since last week's arrest of a Hezbollah terror cell operating in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak spoke out about the incident.

Egyptian authorities arrested 49 members of the cell last week and are looking for an additional 13 members thought to be hiding with Bedouin families in the Sinai Peninsula.

Among those arrested were Hezbollah operative Yousuf Sami Shehab, who had been trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Kuwait's al-Jarida newspaper reported.

Shehab recruited cell members from Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

"Egypt will not allow anyone to violate its borders or destabilize the country," Mubarak reportedly told Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora in a phone call on Sunday.

According to Egyptian intelligence, the Hezbollah operatives, who used false passports to enter the country, were planning attacks against Israelis vacationing in Red Sea resorts in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

In a briefing to parliament, Egyptian cabinet minister Mufed Shehab said security forces seized $2 million, several cars, suicide bomb belts and bomb-making paraphernalia during the arrests.

Shehab said the group was planning to purchase a boat to "bring weapons and ammunition from Yemen, Sudan and Somalia and smuggle them into the country."

According to Shehab, the cell members were "observing and locating the tourist groups who repeatedly come to south Sinai resorts and residences, paving the way to target them in hostile activities."

In an analysis published in The Jerusalem Post on Monday, former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel said the terror cell was setting up its terror infrastructure throughout Egypt.

Egyptian parliamentarians called for issuing an arrest warrant for Lebanese-based Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah for encouraging "terror activities in an attempt to destabilize the [Egyptian] state."

"The arrest of Hezbollah operatives [in Egypt] constitutes an escalation in the tensions between Iran, Hezbollah and Egypt," the legislators said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) told Israel Radio that Nasrallah should be "put in the right place" for this "act of war."

"He [Nasrallah] acknowledges that his men were involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Gaza in order to hit Israel," Katz said.

Despite concrete warnings from the government's Counter-Terrorism Bureau, an estimated 30,000 Israelis are vacationing in seaside resorts in the Sinai Peninsula during the week-long Passover holiday.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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