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EGYPT: Government rounds up Muslim Brotherhood leaders

July 8, 2009 |  8:16 am

12875_1 In another attempt to tighten its grip on the  Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian government  detained a number of the group's members last week, including Guidance Bureau official Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fetouh.

Aboul-Fetouh, who is also secretary general of the Union of Arab Doctors, was among detainees facing various charges, including conspiring with international terrorist organizations against the country and money laundering.

The prosecutor's report alleges that those detained were responsible of forming terrorist cells inside Egypt and funneling Muslim Brotherhood members to be trained in the Gaza Strip under the supervision of Hamas. The report also alleges connections between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah party.

"Aboul-Fetouh led a cell that received instructions from Hezbollah. The orders focused on staging streets protests in Egypt and other Arab countries," the report read.

The movement is similarly accused of receiving large sums of money from unknown foreign sources and using it to finance terrorist activities in addition to diverting to its own uses money raised for Palestinians during the Israeli bombing of Gaza in December 2008 by its affiliates in the United Kingdom (Islamic Daawa).

Government critics and Muslim Brotherhood supporters say the recent purge is part of a decades-long effort to taint the organization, the nation's most formidable opposition party with control of 20 percent of Parliament. Despite the long history of enmity between successive Egyptian ruling regimes and the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement's lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, confirmed that this was the first time the country's biggest opposition movement had been officially accused of terrorist activities.

"The government regularly accused us of trying to take over certain public organizations and workers unions in order to recruit more people to the movement, but it is the first time we get indicted for terrorism," Abdel-Maksoud said.

The recent detentions are seen by many to be part of the government's efforts to limit the Muslim Brotherhood's popularity as the group prepares its candidates to run for seats in the Shura Council and People's Assembly elections to be held next year.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fetouh. Credit: Al-Masry Al-Youm.