Islamist militant arrested after arrival from Pakistan

Staff Report

2012-02-29

CAIRO – Egyptian security officials said a man they arrested at the Cairo airport February 29 after arriving from Pakistan was not a senior al-Qaeda leader, as first thought, but an Egyptian Islamist wanted in his homeland, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

"He is wanted for involvement with the Al-Jihad (group). He is not Seif al-Adel," a source at the National Security apparatus told AFP. Officials and state media earlier said the man was senior Qaeda militant Seif al-Adel.

Analysts told AFP that Makkawi was mistaken for another militant with a similar background.

The source said the man, Muhamed Ibrahim Makkawi, had left for Afghanistan to join the war against Soviet troops in the 1980s, and later settled down in neighbouring Pakistan.

State media had identified him as an al-Qaeda leader, but Makkawi told the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview last year that he had been mistakenly identified as the senior militant, and his photo and background information linked to al-Adel.

He told the newspaper, in the interview published in May 2011, that he disagreed with al-Qaeda and sought political asylum in Pakistan. He said he was wanted in Egypt for involvement in Al-Jihad, a onetime militant group that renounced violence in the late 1990s.

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