CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt has extended the detention of a suspected Al Qaeda official who was captured after the war in Afghanistan, security officials said Saturday.
Mohammed Nagah Abdel Maqsoud is believed to have served as a media coordinator for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network. He has been in custody since January, when Pakistani authorities extradited him to Egypt, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Prosecutors renewed his detention order for 45 days on Saturday.
Islamic activists and experts on militant groups dispute the claim that Abdel Maqsoud has Al Qaeda connections.
"This is nonsense. He did not like any (Islamic) group. He was very sharp and critical of these groups," said Hani el-Sibaie, a former leader of the outlawed Egyptian group Islamic Jihad, speaking Saturday from London, where he runs a research center.
Mohammed Salah, an Egyptian journalist who writes on Islamic militants for the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, said Abdel Maqsoud was not a member of Al Qaeda, although he had fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
"He was well-known among (the Arabs who fought in Afghanistan), and nothing more than that," Salah said in Cairo.
The Egyptian security official said Abdel Maqsoud was responsible for briefing bin Laden on media coverage of Islamic groups and efforts to capture militants.