Egyptian security and armed forces arrested nine alleged terrorists in the Sinai desert operating under the command of al-Qaeda leader Ramzy Mowafy, Egypt’s Al-Ahram reported.
Mowafy was among 234 prisoners, including former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who escaped from the Wadi al-Natrun Prison during the country’s January 2011 revolution.
Al-Ahram cited unnamed security officials who said the nine terrorists confessed to a plan to unite all of the region’s armed movements under the banner of the al-Egypt Free Army, founded by Mowafy to declare Sinai an Islamic emirate that would secede from Egypt.
The report said the prisoners include three members of al-Qaeda, two from the Mujahideen Shura Council, three from Hamas, one Palestinian and one from the Tawhid and Jihad group. They confessed to receiving funding from Mowafy and the Army of Islam Palestinians. One of the prisoners said their group includes about 150 members hiding in the Sinai mountains.
Their mission was to target army and police forces and, among their effects, security forces found detailed maps of the Suez Canal, and the ports bordering it, as well as military sites in northern Sinai, Suez and Alexandria. In addition, they found a list of the names of police and military officers in northern Sinai and addresses of some of them, including Abdel Fattah Sisi, Major General Sedky Sobhy, Chief of Staff, Major General Ahmed Wasfi, commander of Second Army, as well as names and addresses of prominent businessmen and journalists.
Al-Ahram said Mowafy worked with al-Qaeda from 1990 to 1992, and was a right-hand man to deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and his personal physician.
The report said Mowafy was arrested in 1996 on charges of belonging to al-Qaeda and planning to overthrow the government, converted to Shi’ism, and was sentenced to 31 years in prison, before escaping with Mohamed Morsi and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in the jailbreak.
He then fled to the Sinai, and since that time founded a “jihad” cell that is likely responsible for the killing of Egyptian soldiers in Rafah last year, and all acts of terrorism in Sinai since then, including oil line bombings, attacks on security units and the kidnapping of Egyptian officers and soldiers.
Last month, an Egyptian court requested that Interpol help capture Mowafy, along with Hezbollah leader Samy Shehab, Hamas leaders Mohamed Hady and Ayman Nofal, all of whom escaped from the prison during the 2011 uprising and jailbreak.