Egyptian authorities detained the leader of a militant Islamist movement in the Sinai peninsula on Sunday morning, security sources told Ma’an.
Muhammad Eid Musleh Hamad, also known as Muhammad al-Teehi, is accused of planning the deadly attacks in Israeli border city Eilat in August, as well as a number of attacks in the Egyptian peninsula, a Ma’an correspondent reported.
Al-Teehi was detained in northern Sinai city El-Arish after a joint police and army operation, Egyptian security officials said.
He was found hiding in a tourist chalet in the town, and surrendered without resistance, before being moved to Cairo to face charges, they added.
Egyptian authorities said al-Teehi is leader of the “Jihadists and Takfiris” movement, founded after the January revolution which ousted former leader Hosni Mubarak.
Authorities say he masterminded attacks on police stations in the city and has topped a government “wanted” list, official news agency MENA said.
A Ma’an correspondent in El-Arish said that Egyptian authorities had also accused Hamad of being involved in planning the Aug. 18 assault on number of Israeli vehicles near Eilat, which killed eight Israelis.
Israel said it shot dead six gunmen and blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, who denied any involvement.
Within hours of the attack, Israeli forces struck back at targets in southern Gaza, leading to four days of cross border violence that killed 15 Palestinians, and wounded more than 50.
In September, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that an unreleased army investigation revealed the Eilat attacks were carried out by a group of Egyptians operating in Sinai.
Egyptian security told Ma’an al-Teehi’s “Jihadists and Takfiris” movement follows Al-Qaeda intellectually and demands an end to any military or foreign presence in the Sinai peninsula.
The region has been rocked by a series of attacks on pipelines delivering gas to Israel and Jordan, most recently on Thursday when remote-controlled bombs shut down a line in Mazar, west of El-Arish.
Egyptian forces launched a security sweep in August to root out suspected Islamist gangs and, according to security sources at the time, captured four Islamist militants as they prepared to blow up a pipeline in El-Arish.