The Iranian regime penetrated Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s most important university, recruiting an academic for espionage, who was sentenced on Sunday to 15 years in prison along with five other individuals, who were tried in absentia and received life sentences.
According to a Sunday report on the website of Egypt Independent, the Al-Azhar professor, Alaa Moawad, attended the trial.
The Supreme State Security Criminal Court also fined Moawad approximately $30,000.
The Egyptian news outlet wrote that “The computer used by the defendants was confiscated and placed under the authority of” the General Intelligence Directorate, Egypt’s intelligence agency.
The alleged spies “were charged of collaborating with an official from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards [IRGC] between 2012 and April 2016 and providing information to him with the aim of harming Egypt’s military, political and national interests.”
The US government designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization in April.
The other convicted espionage agents, who are on the lam, are: Hassan Derbaghi, Mohammed Makari, Hamida al-Ansari, Karimi Mohsen and Shafii Hussein.
The Saudi-owned paper Asharq al-Awsat reported that “Charges against the Egyptian defendants include providing reports to Iran about Egypt’s domestic conditions from 2012 to 2016.”
The prosecution said that “The first defendant [Moawad] committed espionage in favor of a foreign country and those working for it to harm Egypt’s military and political positions and its national interests.”
The court convictions can be appealed.
Benjamin Weinthal is a European correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.