- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004


54 in Brotherhood held after sweep

CAIRO — The arrests of 54 members of the Muslim Brotherhood by Egyptian authorities were seen yesterday as a warning shot to the banned but tolerated group after it tapped popular sentiment in well-supported rallies over Iraq and the treatment of the Palestinians.

The weekend arrests took place in seven areas, including Cairo, Alexandria and northern Delta provinces where the Brotherhood is active, police said in a statement. Those detained are accused of organizing “military training, but without arms” for militants “in desert zones” and of having tried to enroll new members — charges rejected by lawmaker Mohammed Mursi, a Brotherhood member.


Idea of observers on Gaza border gains

JERUSALEM — Israel is warming to the idea of an international presence on the flash-point border it controls between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a senior government adviser said yesterday.

“It is not at this moment formally on the table of the prime minister but the idea has been coming up increasingly,” the official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity. Reports in the Israeli press say there is a growing willingness among top military leaders to consider such an option as a way of stopping arms smuggling from Egypt.


Masked U.S. agents cited in deportation

STOCKHOLM — U.S. agents were involved in the deportation from Sweden of two suspected Egyptian extremists who reputedly were tortured in their home country, Swedish television TV4 reports.

It quoted witnesses as saying that Swedish police handed over Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed Al Zery at Bromma airport near Stockholm to Americans wearing ski masks. Human Rights Watch took Egypt and Sweden to task two weeks ago over the trial and treatment of Agiza, saying his conviction by a military court in Cairo last month violated fair standards and failed to address his complaints that he had been tortured.

TV4 said Agiza and Al Zery were put, handcuffed, on board a Cairo-bound plane alongside six to eight U.S. agents and two members of the Swedish security services. The Gulfstream 5 aircraft belonged to Private Executive Transport, which works solely for the Bush administration.

Weekly notes

A suspected leader of the Algerian radical Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat#, which held 32 Europeans hostage in the Sahara Desert for several months last year, has been arrested in Chad, German federal prosecutors said yesterday. Amari Saifi, known as “Abderrezak the Para,” was arrested with one other person, the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe said. … Faulted for their last-minute cancellation of the annual Arab summit in March, Tunisian authorities are keeping a low profile as they prepare to host the event Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, there was no sign of the feverish activity habitual to Arab capitals chosen as the venue, but Le Renouveau carried details of traffic restrictions on the two days and schools will be closed.

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