Hizballah team breaks 22 members out of Egyptian jai

A joint Hizballah-Hamas unit used the havoc in Egypt to storm the Wadi Natrun prison north of Cairo Sunday, Jan. 30, and break out 22 members of the Hizballah's spy-cum-terror network, tried and convicted in Egypt for plotting terrorist attacks in Cairo, the Suez Canal and Suez cities and on Israeli vacationers in Sinai in 2007-2008. This is reported by debkafile's counter-terror sources.

The second object of the break-in was to release Muslim Brotherhood inmates to boost the anti-Mubarak street protests now in their second week across Egypt.

In April 2009, Hizballah's leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted he had sent Sami Shehab to Egypt to establish the network. It soon became one of the most dangerous terrorist cells ever to be exposed in the region in recent years. Among its members were also combatants of the radical Palestinian Hamas.

Thursday, Feb. 3, Mahmoud Qmati, Hizballah member of the Lebanese parliament, was glad to announce that all 22 members of the network, including its leader Sami Shehab, had been freed from jail and returned home safely. He provided no information on how this happened.

debkafile rounds out the picture.

The unit assigned by Nasrallah for the jail-break consisted of 25 trained Hizballah and Hamas gunmen. When the riots erupted in Egypt, they started making their way from Gaza to Egypt via smuggling tunnels. On the way, they picked up weapons and explosives in El Arish, northern Sinai, under cover of an onslaught armed Palestinians and Bedouin had launched against Egyptian security forces – partly for this purpose.

The break-out team was met at the Suez Canal by Muslim Brotherhood activists who ferried them across to Ismailia on the western bank by Egyptian smuggling boats. From there, they were driven to the Wadi Natrun prison, one of the largest in Egypt, to be briefed outside by former MB inmates on the guard and security arrangements in the jail and the locations of the cells holding the Hizballah, Hamas and Brotherhood convicts.

After days of surveillance, the team struck.

Explosives and missile-launched grenades flattened the outer gates killing at least 30 Egyptian prison guards who tried to fight them off. Small explosive devices were used to smash internal gates and clear the way to the cells. To expedite the escape of a large number of prisoners, they also blew big holes in the prison's outer walls.

Outside, they were collected by a large convoy of trucks and buses brought in by the Muslim Brotherhood which distributed its freed members around the disturbance hubs in Cairo.

A smaller convoy of minivans carrying the 22 Hizballah and Hamas convicts and their liberators made its way by various routes past Egyptian security forces, who were fully engaged with the protest riots, to Sinai and onto the Gaza Strip. As soon as the escape was discovered, Egyptian forces in Sinai and Israeli forces on the Egyptian border deployed in an effort to stop them entering Gaza, but were too late.

This audacious Hizballah-Hamas attack on the Egyptian prison was the first major quasi-military operation they had ever carried out deep inside Egypt. 

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