Egypt Says More Than 2,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Sudan
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ More than 2,000 Iranian revolutionary guards are training Muslim extremists in Sudan to conduct terrorist attacks in Egypt, Egypt’s top law enforcement officer said in an interview published today.
Iran’s chief justice, Mohammed Yazdi, denied reports that Iran has military forces in Sudan as ″an unfounded lie.″ He spoke in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where he was on an official visit.
In the interview with the government-owned magazine Almussawar, Egyptian Interior Minister Abdel-Halim Moussa said ″more than 2,000 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are in Sudan to train extremists.″
Moussa said evidence of Iran’s involvement in terrorist training in Sudan, which lies along Egypt’s southern border, emerged from interrogations of captured extremists.
Egyptian-Iranian relations have long been strained. President Hosni Mubarak last month accused Iran of trying to impose its hegemony on Arab states in the gulf and warned Egypt would defend them.
Moussa said Egyptian authorities foiled efforts by Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Iran’s top diplomat in Cairo, to ″meet with extremist elements″ and hinted he might be expelled.
Telephone calls to the Iranian mission for comment went unanswered. The phone at Mohammadi’s residence was either busy or out of order.
In the absence of diplomatic ties, severed by Iran in 1979 to protest Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, Tehran is represented in Cairo by an interests section at the Swiss Embassy.
So far this year, 77 people have been killed in an upsurge of religious extremist violence targeting government officials, Christians and foreign tourists. The violence is aimed at replacing Egypt’s secular government with an Islamic regime.
The most recent victim was police Capt. Ali Mohamed Khatir, who died today from a gunshot wound to the head suffered in a fight last week between a suspected terrorist and police in Alexandria, in northern Egypt along the Mediterranean.
Moussa and an editorial accompanying the interview in the magazine criticized the United States for sheltering an Egyptian Muslim cleric, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, despite his alleged links with extremist violence in Egypt.
Moussa charged that Sheik Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric living in New Jersey since July 1990, has been collecting money and sending it to Egypt to finance the activities of his extremist followers.
He said Egypt has not requested Abdel-Rahman’s extradition but ″I have told the U.S. Embassy: Given all this, why are you keeping him there?″
The government considers Abdel-Rahman spiritual leader of a clandestine extremist movement called Jihad, which it blames for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat and a subsequent failed coup.
In Washington, a U.S. immigration source said Abdel-Rahman’s permanent residence status was rescinded last March and that he has a Jan. 20 hearing scheduled in Newark, N.J., in which he will face possible deportation.
The sheik entered the United States on a tourist visa, which the State Department said should not have been issued because he was on a list of terrorist suspects banned from entering the country.