A group of six Muslim Brotherhood officials escaped from Egypt after their president was overthrown in a military coup July 3 and smuggled themselves into the Gaza Strip to lead an uprising against the military in Cairo, debkafile’s exclusive intelligence sources disclose. Headed by Mahmud Izzat Ibrahim, a senior deputy of the Supreme Guide, the group has established a command post at the Gaza Beach Hotel, to organize operations against Egyptian military and security targets, in conjunction with Hamas and armed Al Qaeda-linked Salafist Bedouin in Sinai.
The ousted Islamist leaders hope their revolt will quickly spread out from Sinai to Egypt proper and topple the provisional rulers in Cairo.
Mahmoud Izzat, a doctor of medicine, known as the Muslim Brotherhood’s “iron man,” ranks fourth after Supreme Guide Muhammed Badie in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy. He was a key figure in handing down the policy decisions of the Guidance Office, of which he has been a member since 1981, to the movement’s Freedom and Justice Party in government and parliament.
Married to a former supreme guide’s daughter, he was imprisoned in 1995 as leader of an illegal organization, and jailed again in January 2008 for participating in Cairo demonstrations against an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
debkafile: The MB leadership picked Mahmoud Izzat as the man best able to command the movement’s mutiny against its successors in Cairo.
Our sources reveal that the group escaped from Egypt using the Hamas networks which operated underground in Egypt during the Mubarak presidency. In February 2011, when Mubarak was on his way out, those networks came out of hiding to engineer the mass jailbreak of Brotherhood leaders, including Morsi himself.
To bypass Egyptian military and police roadblocks on Sinai roads, Hamas provided Izzat and his fellow Brethren with smugglers’ boats that ply the Mediterranean sea route between Alexandria and Gaza.
Saturday, July 20, the Egyptian army imposed a total blockade on sea craft traffic along the Mediterranean coasts of Gaza and Sinai and clamped down heavily on other means of access to the Gaza Strip. Army engineers are destroying the hundreds of smuggling tunnels linking Sinai and the Palestinian enclave, which were an integral part of Gaza’s economy under Hamas rule.
Last week, Egyptian Apache gun ships flew overhead to warn the Palestinian rulers that their movements was under surveillance.
debkafile’s military sources report that, in view of the Gaza Strip’s key role in abetting the uprising, the Egyptian army may decide to kick off its counter-terror operation in Sinai by dropping elite forces in Gaza by air or sea for commandeering the Beach Hotel and detaining the six Muslim Brotherhood leaders. They would be brought to Cairo and tried on charges of instigating revolt.
Egypt’s military rulers don’t credit Hamas protests denying they collaborated with the Brotherhood’s actions in defiance of the military. They point to the new terrorist network in Sinai, which calls itself, “Communicators with the Mahdi,” as consisting almost entirely of Palestinian members of Hamas and Jihadi Islami from Gaza. This network is held responsible for the sharp escalation in attacks on Egyptian security forces since the Brotherhood leaders set up shop at the Beach Hotel.
There is no doubt that the Brotherhood revolt leaders in Gaza are coordinating their actions with the Egyptian al Qaeda leader Ramzi Mowafi and the armed Salafist legion he commands in Sinai.
In Cairo, too the army has placed restrictions on Syrian Brotherhood members who entered Egypt recently among the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war against Bashar Assad. Whereas Presiden Morsi allowed them to move freely around the country, since Saturday, July 20, they need a license to travel anywhere – or even leave the country.
The use of the Gaza Strip as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s center of operation outside its borders raises questions about the role of Hamas and the Gaza Strip itself with regard to the resumed peace talks due to begin in Washington next week under US sponsorship.
Hamas quickly rejected the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative announced last Friday and denounced Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as having no mandate to represent the Palestinian people in any negotiations for its future.
This attitude and the presence of a senior Muslim Brotherhood delegation in the Gaza Strip would render any accord Abbas reached with Israel partial and only applicable to the West Bank.