Hunt for backers of ‘sleeper cell’ militants who fled Egypt for Kuwait


JEDDAH/CAIRO: Security chiefs launched an investigation on Saturday to find out how a militant cell linked to the banned Muslim Brotherhood escaped from Egypt and set up operations in Kuwait.

The militants were arrested on Friday in a series of raids by Kuwaiti security forces. A special unit of Kuwait’s Interior Ministry uncovered the cell, identified the locations of its members and detained them in a special operation.

The ministry said all those arrested were wanted by the security services in Egypt. They had evaded Egyptian authorities, and made Kuwait the center of their operations, the ministry said.

After initial investigations, the militants admitted carrying out terrorist operations and breaching security in Egypt. Inquiries are continuing, to find out who helped them flee Egypt, and cooperated with them in Kuwait.

There are large number of Muslim Brotherhood members living “under the radar” in several Arab countries, the Egyptian lawyer Tharwat Al-Kharbawi, an expert on Islamist groups, told Arab News.

Some use illegal passports acquired before the Egyptian security authorities issued orders to prevent them from traveling, he said.

Al-Kharbawi appealed to Arab security services to “wake up and arrest these cells,” to avoid “the devastation the Muslim Brotherhood cause wherever they go.”

The arrests in Kuwait will prompt the leaders of the group in Turkey and London to consider changing their concealment strategy, said Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Ghabari, former director of the National Defense College in Egypt and a security expert at the Nasser Military Academy.

“The Brotherhood believed that by fleeing Egypt they were safe,” he said. “But what happened in Kuwait may change their methodology, and encourage those who committed acts of violence to return to Egypt to hand themselves over to the Egyptian authorities.”

Al-Ghabari said the Egyptian security services were still investigating Muslim Brotherhood terrorist operations in Egypt, and the search continued for the perpetrators, including those who had fled abroad.

Terrorists had been taking advantage of the spread of freedom in Kuwait and abused it to their advantage, the Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“Arresting these terrorists is a step in the right direction and sends a strong message to those who think they can continue to spread their terrorist ideologies on Kuwaiti soil,” he said.

“It is now clear that these militant cells are being supported by Qatar and Turkey. Qatar provides the funds, along with a media platform like Al Jazeera, while Turkey uses them as a mouthpiece to expand its influence in the region.”

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