CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s top prosecutor said he was informed on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have arrested two members of the Muslim Brotherhood, one a leading figure, after Cairo put an international arrest warrant on them on terrorism related charges.
This is the first reported case of Cairo’s Gulf allies arresting members of the group on Egypt’s behalf. Egypt declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group late last year and Saudi Arabia followed suit last week. Kuwait has not listed the Brotherhood as terrorist.
Egypt has accused the Brotherhood of orchestrating a wave of violence in the wake of the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, himself a member of the group. The group denies the charges, and says it is pursuing peaceful protests against Morsi’s ouster. Most of the deadly bombings have been claimed by another, more radical group, and authorities in Cairo have out forward little evidence linking the Brotherhood to the attacks.
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Egypt said Interpol informed it of the arrests, but the international police organization, which is not required to accept requests to help in finding suspects, did not confirm that it had co-operated with Cairo. An Interpol spokeswoman said the group had no public notices for those names, but in some cases countries ask that they not be public.
Saudi and Kuwait authorities could not be reached for comment.
On Sunday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy called on countries in the region during an Arab League meeting to implement a joint Arab agreement to combat terrorism, by refusing to host members of the group and to hand over those wanted. The Brotherhood has branches throughout Arab countries, and many members in the Egyptian branch also live in the Gulf.
The Muslim Brotherhood rose to power following the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Egyptian authorities have cracked down on the Brotherhood since the army overthrew Morsi in July after mass protests against him.
On Wednesday, a statement from Egypt’s top prosecutor said Interpol informed him that ex-parliamentarian Akram el-Shaer was arrested in Saudi Arabia and Mohammed el-Qabouti was arrested in Kuwait. The statement said the two were wanted for inciting violence in their hometown, the port city of Port Said, following an August crackdown on two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo that left hundreds dead.
In a backlash over the next few days, crowds and in some cases gunmen targeted police stations, churches and government installations. Hundreds died. The authorities accuse Brotherhood members of organizing some of those attacks.
Hundreds of Brotherhood members, including Morsi, are already facing trials on various charges including inciting violence, conspiring with foreign groups to spread chaos, holding illegal protests and belonging to an illegal group.
Also on Wednesday, a prosecutor’s statement said 12 members of the Brotherhood and a Palestinian were referred to trial on charges of taking military training in camps that belong to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, going to neighbouring Gaza through illegal tunnels, acquiring weapons.