CAIRO — Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told a press conference Saturday that the country's security forces had captured members of a terror cell that were plotting to carry out a suicide attack against a Western embassy.
Ibrahim did not indicate which Western embassy was the target of the alleged terror plot, but he stressed that three members of a suspected terror cell had been apprehended.
He says that his ministry delivered a damaging blow to a terrorist cell that was planning to stage suicide operations against vital national and foreign targets, including a foreign embassy. Ibrahim went on to say that one of the alleged terrorists was an Algerian national who had received training from al-Qaida in both Pakistan and Iran.
He added that the terror suspects were found in possession of 10 kilograms of aluminum nitrate, which is used to make bombs. They were also carrying propaganda pamphlets for al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Egyptian police arrested members of another alleged al-Qaida cell last October, accusing them of plotting to assassinate government officials. A Libyan terrorist, allegedly involved in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, died in the sting operation.
Omar Ashour, who teaches political science at the University of Exeter in Britain, believes that most potential terrorism in Egypt at the moment is based on local feuds, with local targets.
“Most of the polarization is internal polarization, internal power struggles and political disputes between various political players. Some of them may resort to violence, but usually the target is internal, whether attacking some of the state institutions, the presidency, the parliament, the [administrative] complex in Tahrir Square," said Ashour.
He noted that rogue operations were always possible, however, since “it only takes five or six dedicated individuals to attack a specific foreign target” and that that “could happen any time or anywhere.”
And he also pointed out that al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri has called for calm.
"Ayman Zawahiri had his own issues with the regime [of former president Hosni Mubarak] and he tried to topple that regime by armed tactics, but failed.....and now there is a new stage and he said multiple times on his Youtube videos, that this is not the time for fighting in Egypt.”
“Zawahiri,” said Ashour, “says it is now a time for missionary work [or recuitment]” in Egypt, now that the Mubarak regime is over.