Hamas leaders head to hostile Cairo for high-level talks

Group says delegation will meet with intelligence officials, discuss accusations it played role in 2015 murder of top Egyptian prosecutor

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar speaks during a press conference in Cairo on March 6, 2016. (AFP)
Egyptian Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar speaks during a press conference in Cairo on March 6, 2016. (AFP)

A delegation of Hamas officials is in Cairo for a round of talks with the Egyptian authorities, a senior member of the Palestinian terror group said Saturday.

According to Hamas official Salah Bardawil, the group’s delegation was to meet with representatives of the Egyptian intelligence ministry, among others, the Walla news website reported. The Hamas delegation is led by the deputy head of its politburo, Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Palestinian media said that the sides would discuss bilateral ties as well as Egypt’s recent allegation that Hamas was involved in the murder of its chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt faltered with the 2013 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood official who replaced Hosni Mubarak as president a year earlier. Cairo, now led by former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, regularly accuses Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, of supporting terrorist attacks in Egypt.

Like Israel, Egypt has placed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, citing security considerations. It has also flooded numerous tunnels used by Hamas and other factions to smuggle weapons, money and other items into the Strip from Egypt.

Cairo said Sunday that Hamas and the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood were involved in last year’s killing of Barakat.

“This plot was carried out on the orders of the Muslim Brotherhood… in close coordination with Hamas, which played a very important role in the assassination of the chief prosecutor from start to finish,” Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar told reporters.

Hamas denied the allegation.

Barakat, 64, was killed in a car bomb attack on June 29 in the upscale east Cairo district of Heliopolis.

Egypt's prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat (YouTube screenshot/teleSUR English)
Egypt’s prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat (YouTube screenshot/teleSUR English)

He was the most senior government official killed since jihadists launched an insurgency following the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

His assassination, which has never been claimed by any group, came as a blow to el-Sissi, who won elections in 2014 on a pledge to wipe out Islamist militants.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri rejected the claim that his group colluded with the Brotherhood to kill Barakat.

AFP contributed to this report

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