Syria's embassy in Cairo helped a Hizballah terror operative escape from Egypt by issuing him a false passport, the Arabic-language Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyasseh reported Wednesday. Sami Chehab, who had been serving a 15-year sentence for planning terrorist activities in Egypt, took advantage of the recent chaos to escape with assistance from Syrian intelligence, a Syrian source told al-Seyasseh.
After Chehab escaped, Hizballah boss Hassan Nasrallah sent an advisor to the head of Syrian intelligence asking for a fake Syrian passport and other documents. Embassy officials in Cairo issued Chehab a new passport which he used to travel from Egypt to Khartoum, where members of Hizballah's Sudanese cell put him on a flight to Syria. Chehab crossed into Lebanon, where he appeared at a Hizballah "Martyrs' Day" rally in Beirut's southern suburbs Wednesday.
Egyptian authorities claimed that in his 2009 confession, Chehab said he was ordered by Hizballah to carry out terrorist attacks targeting Israelis and other foreigners in the Sinai Peninsula. The attacks, (planned to avenge the February 2008 assassination of senior Hizballah official Imad Mugniyeh) were to have been carried out simultaneously at three locations in the Sinai.
According to the Egyptian version of events, Chehab's duties included the production of explosive devices and belts and finding places to put vehicles the terror cell would use to travel around Egypt.
For their part, Hizballah officials denied Chehab had any plans to target Egypt, although they admitted that he monitored the movement of Israeli tourists there. The organization said Chehab's goal was to help the Palestinians fight Israel.
Chehab and 25 others were convicted in Egypt last year of spying for Hizballah and plotting attacks in Egypt. He was among thousands of prisoners in Egypt who reportedly escaped after unrest against President Hosni Mubarak erupted last month.