Suspected Iran spy says planned “president’s” killing in Egypt

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Reuters: An Egyptian accused of spying for Iran said Iranians paid him for information about a road often used by President Hosni Mubarak and he planned an assassination there, according to a video shown in court on Thursday. Mahmoud Eid Mohamed Dabbous said in the video he was going to plant bombs on the road in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh … Reuters

By Amena Bakr

CAIRO – An Egyptian accused of spying for Iran said Iranians paid him for information about a road often used by President Hosni Mubarak and he planned an assassination there, according to a video shown in court on Thursday.

Mahmoud Eid Mohamed Dabbous said in the video he was going to plant bombs on the road in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and had checked out the site in preparation for the assassination of a man he called only “the president”.

The video was recorded by prosecutors as part of the investigation, but in court Dabbous said he had made the statements under pressure. He and the Iranians have denied allegations that he spied for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

The video showed Dabbous reenacting his reconnaissance mission on the road between the airport and the hotel area in Sharm el-Sheikh, where Mubarak likes to stay.

He said he had sent the Iranians messages describing the place and had received $10,000 for his work.

He had then asked the Iranians for a further $1 million to plan and carry out the killing. Asked if he meant Mubarak would have been the target, he simply repeated: “The president.”

In the opening session of the trial last week, Dabbous sent a message to the Iranians in Farsi through the media, describing the charges as a conspiracy against Iran, which he called the last bastion of Islam.

He said the accusations were baseless and accused Egyptian intelligence of torturing him while in custody.

Iran has not had formal diplomatic ties with Egypt since the Iranian revolution in 1979, when Tehran broke off relations because Egypt had agreed a peace treaty with Israel.

Cairo and Tehran have said they are moving closer to restoring ties. But Iran has yet to change a Tehran street name which honours the assassin of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the man who made peace with Israel.

In the same case, Egyptian authorities have charged in absentia Iranian diplomat Mohammad Reza Hosseindost with giving Dabbous money for information about a petrochemcial complex in the Saudi port city of Yanbu.

Witnesses said the court authorities played the one-hour videotape on a small television set at the front of a crowded and noisy courtroom, so it was difficult to make out details.

But two witnesses who caught parts of it said it showed Dabbous riding around Sharm el-Sheikh in a minibus and standing on the airport road in the company of a prosecutor.

In other parts of the video Dabbous, a former Koran teacher, said the Iranians had recruited him when he went to Iran seeking a scholarship. They sent him to Saudi Arabia, where they paid him $50,000 for his work, he said.

At the request of the defence, the trial was postponed until February 26.