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Another U.S. counterterrorism official said, “Of course we are watching closely for signs that dangerous terrorists were among those prisoners who broke free early in the Egyptian crisis. At this point, nothing suggests that there are any big names among those running loose.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the director of the center for terrorism research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, “It’s not just a concern that these guys go back to Pakistan, but that groups that had previously been up against the wall could end up reconstituting themselves in Egypt.”

Joanne Mariner, director of the human rights program at Hunter College and a former counterterrorism analyst at Human Rights Watch, said Egypt’s prisons were “notorious incubators for al Qaeda.”