Mistaken Identity in Al-Qaeda Commander Arrest

February 29, 2012 Updated: March 1, 2012

The U.S. said that Egypt did not detain a senior al-Qaeda official on Wednesday but rather arrested a man with the same name, according to media reports.

A man named Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi, who’s name appears on the FBI most wanted terrorist list as an alias for Saif Al-Adel, was detained at the Cairo airport on Wednesday after arriving from Pakistan, reported The Associated Press.

Saif Al-Ade is wanted in connection to the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya and the training of several of the September 11, 2001 hijackers. He is believed to be a high-ranking Al-Qaeda officer and have ties to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The FBI is offering $5 million for information leading directly to his arrest or conviction.

U.S. officials told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the man in Egyptian custody is not the wanted terrorist. 

Makkawi has been a member of Al-Qaeda, but told reporters that he broke ties with the terror group in 1989.

“What has been said about me is lies. I never took part in actions against people or installations,” he said, according to AP.

“I decided to come to Egypt to live in peace and because I am certain of my innocence,” he said. “I have cut no deals with Egyptian authorities,” added Makkawi.