- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
- Aaron Hernandez, ex-Patriot, on prison life: ‘I’m way less stressed in jail’
- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
Egyptian envoy: Most prison escapees have been caught
Nearly 23,000 went free in revolution
Egypt has recaptured the “vast majority” of the thousands of prisoners who escaped or were set free during its revolution earlier this year, the country’s ambassador to the U.S. told The Washington Times.
In a newsmaker interview, Ambassador Sameh Shoukry said “there’s been a lot of progress” in rounding up the nearly 23,000 Egyptian prisoners who went free under murky circumstances during the 18-day revolution that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
“I think the vast majority of them have been recaptured, reimprisoned,” Mr. Shoukry said Thursday. “There’s still some - I don’t know the exact numbers, maybe one or two thousand - that still haven’t been recaptured, but the government is doing everything possible.
“It’s a difficult situation,” he added. “There’s a lack of security forces to do the normal policing work to be able to capture them, but I think progressively they will all be brought back to justice.”
Mr. Shoukry’s estimate was matched independently by a high-ranking Egyptian military official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue. This official said the percentage of those recaptured now stands at 85 percent to 90 percent, up from roughly 60 percent two to three months ago.
The escapees included mostly thieves and other common criminals. But, as The Times previously reported, U.S. intelligence officials feared that several jihadists also had also gone free.
Following the jailbreaks, senior Obama administration officials provided Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces with a list of about two-dozen prominent terrorists whom the U.S. believed may have escaped during the revolutionary chaos.
The list included Rafa Ahmed Taha, a former leader in the Egyptian Islamic Group and one of the original signatories of Osama bin Laden’s declaration of war against the United States, as well as Shawky Salama Mostafa and Mohammad Hassan Mahmoud, both with al Qaeda links who were captured by U.S. forces in Albania in 1998 and extradited to Egypt.
According to a U.S. official, Taha and Mostafa are both believed to be in Egyptian custody while Mahmoud’s status remains “unclear.”
“It’s a good time to be in Egypt,” he said. “The tourist venues are light, so you can take better advantage of them, but it’s a great time to be back. And I think people who go back find that the security situation is better than how it’s perceived from abroad.
“One is always a little more apprehensive of what’s going on, but life does go on. And I, myself, when I went home, was surprised at the degree of normalcy that existed.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama hits new poll lows for approval 38 percent
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- LAMBRO: The dark lining to the silver cloud of Obamanomics
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow