Egypt's prosecutor general ordered the detention of three young Islamists on Thursday for allegedly planning to bomb a pro-democracy center here, a security official said.

The three men included two employees of the center, Ahmed Abouel Nada and Mohammed Gamal Eldin, and the owner of a computer company, Ahmed Abouel Nada, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The group allegedly targeted the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies after tight border security in Syria prevented them from traveling through the country to join the insurgency in Iraq, the official added.

Despite their plan, the men had not carried out any preparations for the attack, said the official.

The pro-democracy center is run by the Egyptian-American activist and sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who told several local and Western papers that he had received warnings from sources close to Egypt's ruling party that he would be punished for his alleged role in advocating U.S. aid cuts for Egypt because of its poor human rights record.

Ibrahim was arrested and charged in 2000 for smearing the country's reputation abroad and embezzling foreign funding. He spent a year in jail until the three-year odyssey of trials and appeals ultimately resulted in his acquittal. He left Egypt in the spring and remains outside the country.