Sheikh ‘Adel Shehato. Courtesy of MEMRI.
Sheikh ‘Adel Shehato, a senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) official who has openly proclaimed his allegiance to al Qaeda’s ideology, has been arrested and charged with founding a “terrorist cell” in Nasr City, a neighborhood in Cairo.
According to Egyptian officials, members of the Nasr City cell have been implicated in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. One of the cell’s leaders is Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (a.k.a. Abu Ahmed). Jamal has “petitioned” Ayman al Zawahiri to start his own al Qaeda affiliate, according to The Wall Street Journal, and has also received financing from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Jamal runs terrorist training camps in eastern Libya and some of his fighters are suspected of taking part in the assault on the US consulate.
Citing the Egyptian Interior Ministry, Al Hayat reports that Shehato and two of his accomplices were arrested while attempting to “slip through the Egyptian-Libyan border with [large] quantities of money and different currencies.”
Incited protesters in Cairo
Shehato was involved in the US embassy protest on Sept. 11 in Cairo. He was one of several al Qaeda-linked jihadists who helped instigate the anti-American rally. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda-linked jihadists helped incite 9/11 Cairo protest.]
Shehato was shown attending the protest in a video published online by Al Faroq media, an Egyptian jihadist propaganda outfit that espouses al Qaeda’s ideology. The Al Faroq video was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“We came here to support the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him,” Shehato says to the camera during the protest, “and we say to the expatriate pigs, wait for the army of Muhammad.”
Nasr City cell’s ties to Benghazi attack
Egyptian security forces raided an apartment in Nasr City on Oct. 24 because it was suspected of housing a terrorist cell comprised of Egyptians, Libyans, and Tunisians. One member of the cell was killed during the ensuing shootout and Egyptian authorities tied him to the attack in Benghazi.
“The gunmen who was killed when police raided an apartment in Madinat Nasr … is suspected of having connections with the group that carried out the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi,” an Egyptian police official said, according to Agence France Presse.
General Mohieddin al-Sayyed, an Egyptian interior ministry official, linked the cell directly to al Qaeda. “The Madinat Nasr police department received information indicating that a terrorist, a member of al Qaeda, was present in an apartment in Madinat Nasr,” Sayyed explained, according to the Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper.
The Egyptian press has reported that Jamal is wanted in connection with the Nasr City case and states outright that he “had joined al Qaeda.”
Openly pro-al Qaeda
Shehato, a senior Egyptian Islamic Jihad official who spent years in prison, has not hidden his adherence to al Qaeda’s ideology. He was interviewed by an Egyptian newspaper in August 2011, just months after his initial release from prison. The interview was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The interviewer asked: “What solution is the EIJ suggesting [today], after the revolution?”
Mohammed al Zawahiri (right, in front of an al Qaeda in Iraq flag), Sheikh ‘Adil Shehato (center, bottom), and Ahmad ‘Ashoush (center, speaking on microphone), from an As Sahab video released on Sept. 10, 2012.
To which Shehato replied: “… We still espouse the old jihadi ideology that is today the ideology of Sheikh Ayman Al Zawahiri, the late Sheikh Osama bin Laden, and Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi ….”
Shehato is one of several old-school Egyptian jihadists who openly support al Qaeda and have ties to Jamal. [See LWJ report, Old school Egyptian jihadists linked to 9/11 Cairo protest, Benghazi suspect.]
Shehato is closely associated with other pro-al Qaeda Egyptian jihadists, including Ahmed ‘Ashoush and Mohammed al Zawahiri. Al Qaeda’s Sept. 10 video, starring al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, shows video clips of this trio filmed in Egypt. During the clip, ‘Ashoush praises Osama bin Laden as a martyr while Shehato and Mohammed al Zawahiri sit nearby.
Like Shehato, both ‘Ashoush and Mohammed al Zawahiri incited protesters in Egypt and have direct ties to Jamal.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.