CAIRO: The Interior Ministry announced yesterday afternoon that police officers have apprehended a man responsible for what it described as a “threatening incident targeting Cairo’s Adly Street Synagogue.
On Sunday witnesses described seeing a small fire on the pavement opposite the synagogue at around 6 am. The interior ministry later said that a bag containing bottles of sulfuric acid had been thrown from the Panorama Hotel, situated on the fourth floor of the building opposite the synagogue.
The alleged perpetrator, named yesterday as 49-year-old Gamal Hussein Ahmed, had then allegedly fled the scene.
Ahmed, from the Cairo area of Boulaq El-Dakrour, is described as a mentally ill drug addict who was arrested at 1 am on Tuesday in Garden City, where he was heading to the US Embassy to seek political asylum, according to the interior ministry’s statement.
The statement also links Ahmed with an “extremist group which in 1984 was implicated in acts of arson targeting video clubs.
Ahmed, said to be “an excessive drug user has allegedly previously been imprisoned on drug dealing charges as well as for “criminal activity. The statement says that he entered a mental health institution in 1991 for drug rehabilitation, but that recently his siblings have disowned and thrown him out for failing to end his drug habit.
Ahmed, a tailor by profession, left Egypt in 1986 and traveled to Jordan, Iraq and Turkey where the Interior Ministry says he developed a drug addiction and “forged passports of many countries. He was also allegedly arrested in Libya on a ship while taking heroin and in possession of a forged passport, resulting a three-year prison sentence.
He was then deported to Egypt in 1997 where he was detained “as a result of criminal activity and because of his threat to national security until 2007.
Ahmed allegedly confessed to carrying out the incident in front of the synagogue “because of his feelings of rage at the events currently taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The statement also said that during the police chase, he accidentally poured sulfuric acid on his face. He had been carrying the abrasive substance for self-defense.