CAIRO – Egypt’s interior minister said 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. 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.
He said the suspects are also believed to have links with the so-called “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 said the three men were in contact with al-Qaida militants abroad.
Two enter presidential race
TEHRAN, Iran – A pair of powerful and divisive figures registered Saturday to run in Iran’s presidential election, jolting the political landscape ahead of next month’s vote to pick a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who still wields enormous influence, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close confidant of Ahmadinejad, submitted their official paperwork just before Saturday’s deadline.
Rafsanjani now stands as the main hope for reformists. Mashaei would mark a continuation of Ahmadinejad-era policies.