In a few days, Egypt will finally lay hands on a Jihad Islami terrorist its security authorities have been after more than 13 years. But his recent activities make him extremely relevant to the most recent joint activities of al Qaeda and its operational arm, the Egyptian Jihad Islami.
DEBKA–Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources reveal that Germany’s handover of Sayyed Agami Muhalhel Muawad, 41, will allow president Hosni Mubarak and his intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman to roll up one of the most dangerous terrorist networks run by al Qaeda and its affiliated Jihad Islami in and out of Egypt since the September 11, 2001 suicide attacks in America.
What is known so far is that its cell leaders are deployed in Algeria, Syria, Yemen and West Europe and operate under the command of Osama bin Laden‘s senior lieutenant Ayman al Zuwahiri.
Muawad is an almost unknown quantity in the West. The only time his name surfaced was under the heading: RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS – EGYPT in the 1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released on February 25, 2000 by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
The report said: There were no reports of political killings: however, police committed extrajudicial killings, and such killings also may have occurred in certain antiterrorist operations.
The London-based Islamic Observation Center reported that Mahmoud Agami Muhalhel Muawad died on October in Damanhour prison as a result of poor conditions. His older brother, Sayyed Agami Muhalhel Muawad, was convicted in absentia in April (1999) by a military court and sentenced to 10 years in prison for membership in the terrorist group, the Jihad Group of Egypt.
The sequel to this early mention is partly revealed here by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s counter-terror sources.
Lead players in custody
In the early 1990s, Muawad disappeared from his family home in Cairo’s Ghiza district and fled to Yemen. For years thereafter, Egypt’s secret service kept the family home under tight surveillance, occasionally picking up one of its members. His younger brother Muhammed Muawad died of torture in 1999.
In 1995, Muawad was again on the run, this time from Yemen to Bavaria, Germany. He claimed political asylum, which was refused. For the next 10 years, the escaped terrorist zigzagged between Britain and Ireland. In 2003, the British deported him to Germany where he was placed in detention.
Egyptian and European terror experts now learn that Muawad used his travels and pose as a political refugee as the front for his clandestine activity as chief coordinator of the Jihad Islami terror networks, including the cells in Egypt, run by Zawahiri. This information became available only in recent weeks, spilled by two captured al Qaeda adherents who had worked with him in Yemen.
These two collaborators, whose identities have not been released, will be extradited from Yemen to Egypt as soon as he too reaches Egyptian hands from Germany. Under the aegis of the same investigation, much more information can be adduced.
It will be further boosted by the questioning of another leading player of the network, a 30-year old Algerian called Saker Adel, a resident of Damascus and proprietor of a downtown Internet cafe, who has also just been taken into custody.
He was detained with all the patrons present in a Syrian intelligence raid of the cafe in late April. Adel’s interrogation and inspection of the hard disks of the cafe’s computers laid bare the establishment’s real function as al Qaeda-Egyptian Jihad Islami’s logistics-communications hub for disseminating messages and orders among the organization’s various cells.
The pieces come together
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence and counter-terror sources add that the data uncovered was so sensational that on May 12, confronted with heavy American pressure, the Syrians hurriedly placed Saker Adel aboard a special Syrian military flight for Algiers. As he stepped off the plane, he was taken by officers for questioning.
Our sources add that a telephone call two weeks later from Mubarak to Algerian president Abdul Boutefliqa put a team of Egyptian investigators, al Qaeda-Jihad specialists, alongside the Algerian interrogators.
Their initial findings, as gleaned by our sources, are that Adel, no stranger to Algerian security agencies from the time he was 17, left Algiers in 2003 for Damascus, where a mysterious hand arranged a place for him to live and the ownership of the Internet cafe. He was soon activating the clandestine center.
One of its regulars was none other than Agami Muawad, who used the cafe’s hidden services to coordinate the cells under his charge while traveling between Germany, Britain and the Irish republic.
When Muawad reaches Egyptian hands, more of the pieces will come together on the murky organization and its deeds in the last three years. But even before this knowledge fully unfolds, our counter-terror experts stress the extreme importance for the global war on terror of breaking up this network and pulling in its tentacles. It is the first time that a corner of the blanket of secrecy has been lifted off any branch of the organization al Qaeda-Jihadi Islami put in place after 9/11.