Egyptian police searched a mountainous part of the Sinai peninsula,
Monday, trying to find 13 men thought to belong to a Hezbollah cell
planning attacks against Israeli tourists. The search was launched
after authorities interrogated 49 suspects now under arrest.
coastal region near the Israeli border, including the Red Sea resort
towns of Taba and Nuweiba, is a popular destination for Israelis. An
Israeli man was reportedly stabbed in Nuweiba by a Libyan worker,
Top Egyptian security officials indicated last week they had arrested and were interrogating suspects with alleged ties to
a Hezbollah terror cell believed to be operating inside the country.
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that one of those arrested,
thought to be a ringleader, belonged to his group, but he denied
planning attacks inside Egypt.
Egyptian police say the 49 suspects include Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, Sudanese and Egyptians.
Nasrallah sparked a row with Egypt in January when he accused
President Hosni Mubarak of having given Israel a "green light to attack
Gaza." He also told Egypt, in his words, to "go to hell," during a
The Egyptian press, quoting Prime Minister Ahmed
Nazif, ran the banner headline Monday, "Egyptian security is a red
line which must not be crossed."
Egyptian political commentator
Abdel Moneim Said of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic
Studies accused Nasrallah of smuggling arms into Egypt from Sudan.
says Nasrallah is pretending that all he was doing was sending
arms and supplies to Hamas in Gaza, which in and of itself is illegal.
But the truth lies elsewhere, he argues. Why create cells in the Red
Sea area, in Suez, or in Upper Egypt? It's all tied to the smuggling of
arms from Sudan into Egypt.
Unconfirmed reports say Israel
bombed a convoy of 17 trucks, loads with arms, near the Sudanese town
of Port Sudan in January. The trucks were allegedly carrying munitions
from Iran via Sudan, to be smuggled into Egypt and on to Gaza.
Salem, who heads the Beirut-based Carnegie Center for Peace in the
Middle East, thinks that Egyptian accusations against Hezbollah are
part of a regional clash between moderate Arab states, including Egypt
and Saudi Arabia, and Iran, which backs Hezbollah.
a rather serious accusation that puts Hezbollah in a fairly hot seat,
and I think it also puts Iran in a fairly hot seat," said Salem. "It comes at a
significant time in the sense that we are seeing a serious
rapprochement between the so-called Arab moderates with Syria and the
Egyptians and Syria, as well. At the same time, we see an escalation
between Egypt and Iran, with Hezbollah being the proxy."
notes that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal lambasted Iran during
a recent speech, indicating the country was a threat to the region. At
the same time, the Saudis and other Arab states are reaching out to
Syria, in hopes of driving a wedge between Damascus and Iran.