Military-style fabrics, uniforms seized

Prosecutors decided Sunday to release a customs broker who was accused of illegally exporting 10,000 pieces of military-style clothing Saturday to Libya after the broker provided receipts of his purchases. 

The Cairo International Airport cargo department said it foiled an attempt to smuggle large quantities of Egyptian army uniforms to Libya, without obtaining security clearances from the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Yousry Abdel Aziz, head of security at the airport, said the large shipment of items such as shirts and pullovers lacked proper shipping permits and was essentially being smuggled out of Egypt to Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Authorities detained the customs broker for investigations, but he said he got the fabric from a shop in Abbasseya, and he was intending to export it to Libya. He said he knew that prices of such fabric are high in Libya. 

In a separate incident Saturday, authorities found two containers holding 25 tons of camouflaged fabric in Alexandria to be used for manufacturing military uniforms, in a shipment coming from China.

An Egyptian-Chinese company had imported the fabrics, investigations suggested. When examined, the shipment was similar to fabric used to make Egyptian military uniforms.

The shipment entered Egypt through Alexandria port under custom permit No. 954, through a system that allows materials to enter Egypt to be used in industry, then be exported back.

Prosecutors ordered the seizure of the papers and documents related to the shipment customs permit, and to notify the Military Prosecution about the incident.

The incidents come days after a security official said the military was investigating whether Palestinian militant group Hamas was linked to a batch of confiscated fabric that could have been used to make fake uniforms. Hamas says it has no connection to the fabric.

A military spokesperson warned a week ago that unnamed parties might impersonate Egyptian soldiers after the fabric used for police and army uniforms was seized near a tunnel running under the Egypt-Gaza border.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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