By Will Rasmussen
CAIRO, April 8 (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities accused the Lebanese group Hezbollah on Wednesday of planning attacks inside Egypt, a development that could plunge Cairo’s relations with the Shi’ite group’s backer, Iran, to new lows.
The office of Egypt’s public prosecutor said it was investigating accusations that Hezbollah had recruited a 49-member cell with the aim of striking inside Egypt, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.
Hezbollah angered Egypt earlier this year by accusing Cairo of complicity with Israel in its siege of the Gaza Strip.
“The public prosecutor received a note from state security about information confirmed by questioning about Hezbollah leaders sending some elements to the country to attract members to work with the organisation … with the aim of carrying out acts of aggression inside the country,” a statement by the public prosecutor said.
The statement said the group had been trying to monitor Egypt’s Suez Canal, its border with the Gaza Strip, and tourist installations in the Sinai Peninsula and sending information back to Hezbollah.
It also said the group had been establishing links with criminal elements to forge passports and setting up businesses to cover for spying activities.
It gave no details of any attacks being planned, but accused Hezbollah of trying to spread Shi’ite ideology in Egypt.
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