Man thought to be al Qaeda leader freed in Egypt

Muhamed Makkawi, confused as Qaeda militant Seif al-Adel, was arrested at Cairo airport.

Cairo: An Islamist mistakenly arrested in
Cairo on suspicion of being a senior Al Qaeda figure has been
freed, judicial sources and state media said today.

Muhamed Makkawi, confused for the senior Qaeda militant
known by the nomme de guerre of Seif al-Adel, was arrested at
Cairo airport today, with state media and police announcing
they had netted the Al Qaeda commander.

He was freed on Friday after questioning, judicial sources
and the official MENA news agency said.

Makkawi had apparently come back to his native Egypt from
Pakistan to clear his name after law enforcement agencies
confused him with Adel, who was said to have led Al Qaeda
briefly after Osama bin Laden`s death last year.

The FBI offers a reward if up to USD 5 million Adel, whom
it also identifies as Makkawi.

But the picture posted under his name on its Most Wanted
list is of another Egyptian, Mohammed Zeidan, analysts and
Islamist activists who knew both men say.

Omar Ashour, an expert on Islamist militant groups, said
Makkawi had been trying to clear his name for years. Makkawi
had settled in Pakistan after fighting the Soviet occupation
of neighbouring Afghanistan in the 1980s.

"On the FBI website they have a picture of Zeidan but the
biography of Makkawi," said Ashour, a professor at Exeter
University.

Ashour said Makkawi had contacted the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, before he reached out to a pan-Arab
newspaper to clarify his identity.

"There are a few reasons (for confusing the two
Egyptians)" Ashour said.

"One of them has to do with the other man`s background.
Mohammed Zeidan was also in the armed forces. Both come from
the (Nile) Delta region."

PTI

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