CAIRO: Egypt has denied that it is supporting or funding the Sunni “Jundallah (Soldiers of God) group in Iran, according to a local paper.
A supposedly high-level though unnamed source refuted to Al-Shorouk newspaper Iranian reports that Egyptian intelligence officers were offering assistance to the Jundallah group.
He added that the Egyptian intelligence services as a rule did not cooperate with any groups that are linked to Al-Qaeda, which Jundallah is believed to be affiliated with.
Iranian reports had claimed that American and Arab intelligence units, including Egypt, maintained contact with Jundallah and that some of its members had been trained by Egyptian secret service personnel.
Jundallah is a group based in Baluchistan in Pakistan, with the stated aim of fighting for Sunni Muslims in Iran. It is estimated to comprise 1,000 soldiers and both Pakistan and Iran consider Jundallah to be a terrorist organization.
According to international relations expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Emad Gad, these accusations could be a result of the fallout over the alleged Hezbollah cell captured in Egypt.
Twenty-six defendants are currently on trial for being members of the cell and are accused of “conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organization with intent of conducting terrorist attacks, and weapons possession.
Hezbollah and Iran are allies and the announcement of the capture of the cell by Egyptian authorities was perceived to be an indictment of Iran as much as the Lebanese militia.
“Iran interferes in the domestic affairs of Egypt, not just with the matter of the Hezbollah cell but by glorifying fundamentalist Egyptians, such as naming a street after [assassin of Anwar Al Sadat] Khaled El-Eslamboli, Gad said.
“And while of course I cannot confirm or deny Egypt’s involvement, it would be logical that a regional Islamic power like Egypt might respond in kind, but of course no country would publicly confirm that it would do this, he added.
Ties between Egypt and Iran have been suspended since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Egypt’s acceptance of the deposed Shah Reza Pahlavi angered the new ayatollahs and after Al Sadat was assassinated, a Tehran street was named after El-Eslamboli.
“Iran has a lot of regional disputes regarding their interference in the region and this is a response in which they’re trying to say that they too have foreign interference in their domestic affairs, Gad said.