EL ARISH, Egypt – Egyptian security forces were on Monday searching a mountainous region of the Sinai peninsula for 13 men believed to be members of a Lebanese Hezbollah cell, security officials said.
Officials said the men’s names came up during interrogation of 49 suspects who have been arrested over the past five months and accused of plotting attacks on Israelis in the Sinai on behalf of the Shiite movement Hezbollah.
“Police are searching for 10 Lebanese and three Palestinians whose names came up in questioning and who were operating out of this area,” a security official told AFP.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that the original suspects’ alleged ringleader, a Lebanese man identified as Sami Shihab, was a Hezbollah agent tasked with smuggling weapons to Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Police suspect the wanted men may be hiding in an inaccessible mountainous area near the town of Nakhl which is used by Bedouin drugs smugglers, officials said.
The suspects face several charges, including helping a foreign military force carry out attacks in Egypt, weapons possession and forgery.
The prosecutor on Sunday also sought espionage charges against six of the suspects.
The prosecutor said in a statement announcing the men’s arrest that they had been scouting tourist resorts in Sinai. - AFP