Skip to main content

State news: Detainees linked to al Qaeda targeted U.S., French embassies in Egypt

By Paul Cruickshank. Reza Sayah and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Citing prosecutors, state news says those arrested targeted U.S., French embassies
  • NEW: They planned to detonate car bombs there and in the Sinai, the report says
  • NEW: Neither U.S. nor Egyptian officials comment on the reports
  • A prosecutor orders one detainee to stay in jail 15 more days, says a report

(CNN) -- The Egyptian prosecutor's office says evidence shows three suspects linked to al Qaeda targeted the U.S. and French embassies in Cairo, as well as an Egyptian army facility in the Sinai Peninsula, according to state news.

The state-run Middle East News Agency, known as MENA, reported Wednesday that state prosecutors have evidence suggesting the alleged terrorists, who were arrested over the weekend, planned to detonate car bombs at the three sites.

A source briefed by an Egyptian security official said Wednesday that he'd been told that France's embassy was allegedly targeted but was not told about the other diplomatic mission. Members of the alleged terrorist cell had 10 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, which is commonly used in bomb making, according to the source.

Mubarak's retrial starts amid tight security

David Linfield, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, told CNN that he's aware of reports in Egyptian media that the American embassy was targeted but otherwise had no comment on the matter. And an Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman refused to comment to CNN about the alleged targets.

A prosecutor ordered one of those arrested, Mohamed AboulEla Aqida, to stay behind bars for at least 15 more days, rather than be put on house arrest, MENA reported Wednesday. The fate of the other two people detained was not immediately clear.

The prosecutor's office pointed to new evidence that has surfaced linking Aqida to a leading figure of al Qaeda in Iraq named Daoud Al Asdi, as well as al Qaeda members in the Sinai Peninsula, according to MENA.

He and others allegedly had gone beyond the planning stages and were getting ready to attack when Egyptian police arrested them, the source briefed by an Egyptian security official told CNN.

A U.S. State Department travel alert issued Wednesday did not specifically mention this plot, though it did allude to a May 9 knife attack on a U.S. citizen.

That American was outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, was asked if he was an American, then attacked. Egyptian police have a suspect in custody in that case, according to the State Department.

The diplomatic alert also urged Americans "to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 6:28 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT