April 11, 2009 / 5:12 PM / 11 years ago

Egypt detains man transporting £1.4 mln for Hamas

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian police have detained a man they say was transporting $2 million (1.4 million pounds) to north Sinai to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip to the Islamist group Hamas, security sources said Saturday.

The man, Hassan Mohamed Hassouna, was detained in Cairo along with his driver and eight-year-old son around a week ago, the sources said. The child was returned to his family in north Sinai after spending three days in detention, they added.

The sources said Hassouna named three other men as accomplices during his interrogation.

Egypt is eager to show it is doing all it can to stop money or aid reaching Hamas, which is at odds with Fatah, the rival Palestinian movement that holds sway in the West Bank. Egyptian authorities regularly stop Hamas officials from bringing large sums of money into Gaza.

In March, Egyptian security forces blocked two Hamas officials from entering the Islamist-run Gaza Strip with around $900,000 in cash, and in February they forced Hamas official Ayman Taha to deposit more than $11 million in cash in a bank in El Arish.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said Friday that Egyptian authorities had arrested a Hezbollah member who had been offering logistical help to Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are supported by Iran, whose growing influence in the region has alarmed conservative Arab states, including many in the oil-exporting Gulf region.

Mainly Sunni Egypt and Iran have not had full diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran cut ties after then president Anwar Sadat welcomed the deposed shah to Cairo.

Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni

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