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Egypt airs what it claims is terror confession

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities produced on Thursday what they said was a confession by the son of a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, trying to bolster accusations that the Islamist group has links to Al Qaeda-inspired militants.

In a news conference, the interior minister aired the recording said to be of Yahia Mongi, son of a Brotherhood lawmaker, in which he says he joined the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem group.

Mohammed Ibrahim said Mongi was part of a seven-member cell that carried out a suicide bombing of a provincial security headquarters last month. The Ansar took responsibility for the explosion, as well as other attacks.

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The charge that the Brotherhood has links to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is central to the government’s case for labeling the group, from which ousted President Mohammed Morsi hails, as a terrorist organization. The confession is the first purported piece of hard evidence produced by authorities to make the link.

Human rights advocates said that police frequently use torture and other means of coercion to produce confessions, relying on them in lieu of other evidence to convict defendants in both ordinary criminal and security trials.

The Brotherhood denies that it practices violence.

The news conference came as a court set Jan. 28 as the opening date for Morsi’s trial along with 130 others for a 2011 jailbreak. It is the third set of charges that Morsi faces. Also, a court in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria sentenced seven secular-leaning activists to two years in prison on charges related to a protest.

Minister Ibrahim said Mongi’s role was surveillance and hosting the Ansar’s leader.

He listed names of Muslim Brotherhood members alleged to have crossed to the Gaza Strip and received training from Hamas, the militant group that rules the territory. When they returned to Egypt, the minister said, they carried out a number of other attacks including shooting anti-Islamist protesters.

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