An Egyptian court has sentenced more than two dozen men tied to a Hizballah plot to attack tourist sites in Egypt.
The presiding judge found sufficient evidence that the defendants planned "to strike Egypt's economy, destroy the bonds between its people and create chaos and instability throughout the country."
Authorities claim they found explosive vests and other bomb-making material when they arrested the suspects more than a year ago. They also claimed the cell leader admitted plotting simultaneous attacks against Israeli tourists at three different locations in Egypt. The plot was designed to be retaliation for the 2008 assassination of senior Hizballah operative Imad Mughniyah, which Israel is believed to have carried out.
Hizballah officials denied any plans to attack targets in Egypt, but did acknowledge defendant Sami Chehab, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, was a Hizballah member. His work, the group claimed, tried to help equip Palestinians in their fight against Israel.
Egypt has imposed a blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza and Hizballah has been critical of this. Critics often cast doubt on the actions of Egyptian law enforcement and the fairness of its courts. Whatever the circumstances, Egypt doesn't seem to be in a mood to do Israel any favors. It is contesting Israeli claims the Hizballah has been supplied with Scud missiles from Syria which could hit targets throughout Israel. And, as the Jerusalem Post reports, Egypt's foreign minister called Israel an "enemy" state.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, are expressing deep concern that Hizballah is stocked with an increasingly lethal arsenal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates described Hizballah as possessing "far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world." U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Hizballah's "rockets and missiles in Lebanon are substantially increased and better technologically than they were, and this is a real point of danger for Israel."