US embassy cable - 92ALEXANDRIA751

ALEXANDRIA: TRIAL OF SUSPECTED JIHAD MEMBERS

Identifier: 92ALEXANDRIA751
Wikileaks: View 92ALEXANDRIA751 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Alexandria
Created: 1992-10-29 15:42:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER KISL EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 291542Z OCT 92
FM AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0208
INFO AMEMBASSY CAIRO
DIA WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ALEXANDRIA 000751 
 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/EGY 
 
E.O. 12356:DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PGOV, PTER, KISL, EG 
SUBJECT:  ALEXANDRIA: TRIAL OF SUSPECTED JIHAD MEMBERS 
 
REF:  (A) ALEXANDRIA 541 (B) ALEXANDRIA 341 
-     (C) ALEXANDRIA 43 (D) ALEXANDRIA 38 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  THE TRIAL OF THIRTY-ONE SUSPECTED 
ISLAMIC JIHAD MEMBERS, SOME OF WHOM WERE ARRESTED IN 
ALEXANDRIA IN AUGUST, WILL BEGIN OCTOBER 29 AT 
ALEXANDRIAS HIGH MILITARY COURT ACCORDING TO WIDESPREAD 
PRESS COVERAGE.  THE SUSPECTED MILITANTS, WHO COULD FACE 
THE DEATH PENALTY IF FOUND GUILTY OF THE CHARGES OF 
SUBVERSION AND PLOTTING ASSASSINATIONS, WILL BE THE 
FIRST LARGE GROUP TO STAND TRIAL UNDER EGYPTS NEW 
ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS.  LOCAL SECURITY SOURCES DESCRIBED 
THE BOMBINGS OF ALCOHOL SHOPS IN ALEXANDRIA LAST WINTER 
AS "KIDS STUFF" COMPARED TO WHAT WAS BEING PLANNED BY 
THE SUSPECTED JIHAD MEMBERS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) THE TRIAL OF THIRTY-ONE SUSPECTED ISLAMIC JIHAD 
MEMBERS WILL BEGIN OCTOBER 29 AT ALEXANDRIAS HIGH 
MILITARY COURT ACCORDING TO FRONT PAGE COVERAGE IN ALL 
OFFICIAL PAPERS AND TELEVISION NEWS BROADCASTS.  THE 
SUSPECTED MILITANTS, WHO COULD FACE THE DEATH PENALTY IF 
FOUND GUILTY OF THE CHARGES OF SUBVERSION AND PLOTTING 
ASSASSINATIONS, WILL BE THE FIRST LARGE GROUP TO STAND 
TRIAL UNDER EGYPTS NEW ANTI-TERRORISM LAW PASSED IN 
JULY.  GENERAL ABDEL GAFFAR HELAL, DIRECTOR OF THE 
MILITARY COURT SYSTEM, ANNOUNCED THAT THE SUSPECTS, SOME 
OF WHOM HAD BEEN ARRESTED IN ALEXANDRIA IN AUGUST, WERE 
FROM TWO JIHAD SPLINTER GROUPS WHICH HAD BEEN PLANNING 
ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS 
FIGURES, IMPORTANT GOE INSTALLATIONS AND TOURIST SITES 
IN EGYPT.  SOME OF THE MEMBERS REPORTEDLY HAD RECEIVED 
MILITARY TRAINING IN OTHER COUNTRIES (I.E. 
AFGHANISTAN).  THOSE ARRESTED INCLUDED A FEW FOREIGNERS 
(JORDANIAN, SUDANESE) AND EGYPTIANS FROM FAYOUM, MINYA, 
ALEXANDRIA, MANSOURA, CAIRO, SOHAG, KAFR EL SHEIKH, AND 
LUXOR. 
 
3. (U) ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, THE FIRST JIHAD 
SPLINTER GROUP TRAINED MEMBERS OUTSIDE OF EGYPT AND SENT 
THEM BACK TO EGYPT (VIA LIBYA AND SUDAN) WITH MONEY AND 
WEAPONS TO COMMIT ACTS OF SABOTAGE.  FIFTEEN MEMBERS OF 
THIS GROUP WERE ARRESTED AND NINE OTHERS FLED.  POLICE 
FOUND ARMS, EXPLOSIVES, FRAUDULENT IDENTIFICATION CARDS 
AND PASSPORTS, AND MONEY AT THE TIME OF THE ARREST.  THE 
SECOND GROUP, "GAMAAT EL-TAKFEER," HAS ORGANIZED TO 
DISCREDIT EGYPTS RULING REGIME AND PEOPLE AS 
"NON-BELIEVERS."  THIS GROUP REPORTEDLY HAS PLANNING TO 
ASSASSINATE GOE OFFICIALS (INCLUDING POLICE) AND DESTROY 
INSTALLATIONS (INCLUDING SOME MOSQUES) AS INDICATED ON 
PLANS AND A MAP FOUND AT THE TIME OF THE ARREST OF 
SIXTEEN OF THE GROUPS TWENTY-TWO MEMBERS. 
 
4. (U) GOE OFFICIALS ON THE HIT LIST REPORTEDLY 
INCLUDED:  DR. SAFWAT EL-SHERIF, MINISTER OF 
INFORMATION; MINISTER OF INTERIOR ABDEL HALIM MOUSSA; 
GENERAL MUSTAFA KAMEL, GOVERNOR OF DAKAHLIA AND FORMER 
HEAD OF STATE SECURITY; MOHAMED HASSAN TANTAWI, GOVERNOR 
OF SOHAG; AND OTHER FORMER MINISTERS OF INTERIOR. 
 
5. (U) GENERAL ABDUL GAFFAR HELAL ALSO SAID THAT THE 
TRIAL WILL TAKE PLACE IN ALEXANDRIA BECAUSE THAT IS 
WHERE MOST OF THE GROUPS ACTIVITIES WERE CENTERED. 
STATE SECURITY REPORTEDLY HAD TRACKED SOME OF THE 
MEMBERS MOVEMENT TO ALEXANDRIA FROM UPPER EGYPT 
FOLLOWING DISTURBANCES THERE LAST SPRING.  THE 
INVESTIGATION ALSO REPORTEDLY REVEALED THAT THE MEMBERS 
USED TO HOLD MEETINGS AT THE IBRAHIM MOSQUE OF SHEIKH 
AHMED EL-MEHALLAWY AT RAMLEH STATION (DOWNTOWN 
ALEXANDRIA) AND THAT THEY BELONG TO AN INTERNATIONAL 
FUNDAMENTALIST MOVEMENT LED BY OMAR ABDURRAHMAN, RASHED 
GHANOUSHI OF TUNISIA, ABBAS MIDANI OF ALGERIA, AND 
HASSAN EL-TURABI OF SUDAN. 
 
6. (C) LOCAL SECURITY CONTACTS CONFIRMED THE PRESS 
ACCOUNTS AND ADDED MORE DETAILS.  THOSE A 
RRESTED IN ALEXANDRIA IN AUGUST (REF A) APPARENTLY CAME 
HERE FLEEING FROM THE SECURITY CRACKDOWN IN UPPER EGYPT 
LAST SPRING.  THEY MAY ALSO HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF THEIR 
NEW LOCATION TO ASSIST THE LOCAL JIHAD ORGANIZATION IN 
CARRYING OUT SOME OF THE ALEXANDRIA INCIDENTS REPORTED 
PREVIOUSLY.  ACCORDING TO OUR SECURITY CONTACTS, THE TWO 
JIHAD SPLINTER GROUPS PLANS WERE HIGHLY 
COMPARTMENTALIZED AND THE MEMBERS GENERALLY DID NOT KNOW 
EACHOTHER, BOTH FOR THEIR PROTECTION AND THE SUCCESS OF 
THEIR OPERATIONS.  ADDITIONALLY, SOME OF THOSE ARRESTED 
ARE REPORTEDLY IDEOLOGICALLY-MOTIVATED, WELL-EDUCATED 
PROFESSIONALS, NOT JUST UNSKILLED LABORERS ATTRACTED TO 
FUNDAMENTALISM FOR ECONOMIC REASONS, AS CONVEYED BY 
PRESS COVERAGE. 
 
7. (C) SECURITY CONTACTS INDICATED THAT THE BOMBINGS OF 
ALCOHOL SHOPS IN ALEXANDRIA LAST WINTER (REFS B-D) WERE 
"KIDS STUFF" COMPARED TO WHAT WAS BEING PLANNED.  STATE 
SECURITY OFFICIALS TOLD US THAT JIHAD MEMBERS WHO THE 
PRESS REPORTED HAD "ESCAPED" SIMPLY HAD NOT BEEN 
APESTED YET; THEY ARE BELIEVED TO BE OUTSIDE OF EGYPT 
AT THIS TIME. 
- 
8. (C)  OTHER SECURITY SOURCES RECENTLY PROVIDED 
ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE INDICATING THE RISING LEVEL OF 
POLICE CONCERN IN ALEXANDRIA AND NEIGHBORING 
GOVERNORATES.  SEVERAL GOE OFFICIALS REPORTEDLY HAVE 
BEEN PLACED UNDER HEAVY PERSONAL SECURITY DUE TO THE 
UNCOVERING OF SPECIFIC PLOTS AGAINST THEM, INCLUDING THE 
GOVERNOR OF DAKAHLIA, GENERAL MUSTAFA KAMEL, THE 
GOVERNOR OF GHARBIA, MAHER EL GUENDY, AND ALEXANDRIA 
STATE SECURITYS HEAD OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS.  KAMEL, 
FORMER HEAD OF STATE SECURITY, AND EL GUENDY, WHO 
INTERROGATED FUNDAMENTALISTS DURING SADATS TIME, HAVE 
REPUTATIONS OF HAVING BEEN VERY TOUGH ON EXTREMISTS. 
 
9. (C) COMMENT: THIS TRIAL OF SUSPECTED JIHAD MEMBERS IS 
SIGNIFICANT, BOTH BECAUSE IT IS ONE OF THE FIRST TO TAKE 
PLACE IN A MILITARY COURT UNDER THE ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS 
PASSED THIS SUMMER AND BECAUSE OF THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE 
OFFENSES.  OUR STATE SECURITY CONTACTS, WHO IN THE PAST 
HAVE RESPONDED TO OUR INQUIRIES ABOUT FUNDAMENTALIST 
ACTIVITIES IN A LOW KEY AND RELAXED MANNER, READILY 
CONFIRMED PRESS REPORTS AND VOLUNTEERED ADDITIONAL 
INFORMATION ON THIS CASE.  THE NEWLY REVEALED DETAILS 
ABOUT THE SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN ALEXANDRIA IN AUGUST 
CERTAINLY PUT INTO A MORE SERIOUS LIGHT THE LOCAL 
INCIDENTS REPORTED REFTELS.  AS TO WHY THE GOE HAS 
DECIDED TO START THE TRIAL NOW, AS SUGGESTED BY THE 
EXTENSIVE PRESS COVERAGE, THE GOE SEEMS TO BE ANXIOUS TO 
COUNTER THE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY AND EFFECTS OF THE RECENT 
ATTACKS ON TOURISTS AND TO DETER EXTREMISTS FROM 
COMMITTING FURTHER VIOLENCE.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
SCHELL 

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