Egypt arrests 3 in embassy plot
CAIRO — Egypt's interior minister said on Saturday that security authorities have arrested three suspected al-Qaida-linked militants who were planning to carry out suicide attacks on vital installations and an unspecified foreign embassy.
Mohammed Ibrahim told a news conference that the men had been in contact with Dawood al-Assady, a leader of al-Qaida in southeast Asian countries such as Pakistan, and that the group was planning to attack government buildings and a foreign embassy. He did not disclose details.
Security officials with knowledge of the case said a Western embassy was the target, but did not have further information. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The interior minister said authorities seized 22 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in homemade explosives.
Security officials also discovered statements issued by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the group's arm in North Africa, on one of the men's computers with information on how to make bombs and rockets, and ways of collecting intelligence.
Ibrahim said the suspects are also believed to have links with the “Nasr City terror cell,” which was broken up last year and its members arrested on accusations of plotting attacks against public figures in Egypt.
The interior minister denied that al-Qaida is active in Egypt, but he said the three men were in contact with al-Qaida militants abroad.
Egypt's security has sharply deteriorated in the past two years, with Islamic militants suspected of being behind cross-border assaults on Israel as well as a bold attack that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai Peninsula last year.
Ibrahim told reporters that the men were trying to take advantage of the country's situation to “target innocent civilians and attack foreign diplomatic missions.”
Ibrahim said one of the three men had received instructions from al-Assady to contact two members of the Nasr City terror cell.
He added that one of the men had received combat training by members of al-Qaida in Iran and Pakistan and had connections with members of al-Qaida in Algeria.