Syndicated News from Egypt
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 09:55:02 GMT
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 20:02:46 GMT
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Sat, 07 Dec 2013 22:31:52 GMT
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Sat, 07 Dec 2013 14:57:55 GMT
Egypt's Sinai: Trafficking, torture and fearAljazeera.comNorth Sinai, Egypt - Puckered flesh has knitted across Idriss' shoulder, masking the deep gash below. Four months earlier, his captors had scooped the skin out with a blade. The back of his Eritrean companion, Birikti, is seared with scars. The men had ...and more »
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 09:40:55 GMT
How does Obama think about Egypt?Ahram OnlineMost experts on US strategy believe President Barack Obama's administration did all it can in dealing with the serious political crisis in a large pivotal country like Egypt. Although Obama has been blamed by both sides in the conflict in Egypt (the ...and more »
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 10:37:30 GMT
Egypt women protesters begin appealAljazeera.comThe arrest of the women came in the same week as a restrictive new law against protests was enacted across Egypt. The initial trial took just four hours to find them guilty, said our correspondent, but it remains unclear how long the appeal hearings ...
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Results 1 - 10 of Headlines for Egypt
Monday, September 16th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party held its first convention in a decade this past weekend, with 6,000 delegates voting to re-elect President Hosni Mubarak as chairman for an unspecified term. Even more important, the meeting represented a key step in the positioning of Mubarak’s son Gamal as a potential presidential successor.
Gamal touted his reform efforts during the convention, and shortly after on Sept. 17 Mubarak named him the head of domestic policy for the NDP. Gamal already has been widely tipped as Mubarak’s most likely replacement.
Hereditary transfers of power are common in Middle Eastern and especially Arab states. A series of recent corruption scandals and arrests targeting senior NDP officials also has triggered speculation that the president will clean out the party’s old guard to make room for his son.
Gamal’s political role has grown tremendously over the last two years since his appointment to the NDP’s general secretariat in 2000. Now he is leading what is being touted as a reform movement within the party in a bid to attract a younger following and bolster his budding political career.
This also may be intended to remove any potential future rivals for the presidency. Several senior NDP leaders, including a deputy of NDP Secretary-General Yousef Wali, have been arrested on corruption charges in recent months, Agence France-Presse reported Sept. 15.
Mubarak has denied reports that Gamal is being groomed as a successor. The 39-year-old is a businessman and does not have his father’s military experience, and he consequently may not have the military’s support as head of state.
Even so, Gamal’s political star is on the rise, and its eventual zenith most likely will be the Egyptian presidency. Mubarak is 74, and his fourth six-year term as president ends in 2004. But setting the stage for Gamal will be only the first step in securing a transition. The real test will come once the son has taken the reins and the father -- either due to death or incapacitation -- is unable to provide behind-the-scenes support against potential rivals.
The president and his son will tread carefully but with determination, mimicking similar steps taken by former Syrian President Hafez Assad, including purges of senior government leadership, to ensure the succession of his son Bashar. Bashar’s true trial came after he assumed leadership in 2000 and each faction -- from the ethnic Sunnis in Syria to the Maronites and Druze communities in Lebanon -- rose up to challenge his policies.
Should Gamal win a presidential election and succeed his father, he too will have a variety of factions -- from the Muslim Brotherhood militant group to opposition parties to possibly even the military and government bureaucrats -- challenging his leadership. Like Bashar, Gamal will counter this by relying on influential members of the presidential inner circle, such as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and presidential adviser Osama Al-Baz, who will be instrumental in helping to circumnavigate the opposition.
Thursday, August 15th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The U.S. government announced Aug. 15 that it is withholding new aid to Egypt to protest the conviction of Saad Eddin Ibrahim on charges of embezzlement, receiving foreign funds and damaging Egypt’s reputation. The U.S. position is that Ibrahim, a university professor who holds an American passport, was imprisoned because of his human rights activities.
The decision does not affect the $2 billion in annual military and economic aid that Egypt already receives from the United States, but it does limit any new funding.
There are two things that make this story remarkable. First, Egypt is the foundation of Washington’s strategy in the Arab world. It is the largest Arab country in the Middle East, and during a period in which the United States is becoming increasingly estranged from the Arab world over its Iraq policy, maintaining good relations with the Egyptians would seem a top priority. In addition to providing the United States with a reliable ally in the Arab world, Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is also the foundation of Israeli security policy.
Second, such a decision is inconsistent with current White House policy. Under the Clinton administration, geopolitical considerations occasionally took a backseat to human rights issues. But the Bush administration, due to both predilection and circumstances, has consistently made national security its top priority. Publicly hammering a key ally over the imprisonment of a single individual has not thus far been a hallmark of its operating methods.
What is particularly striking is that the U.S. government did not actually cut off aid or stop any other sort of cooperation. Its announcement was a purely symbolic act. A logical audience for such a gesture would be the international human rights community, but the Bush administration is not particularly sensitive to its feelings, and if it were, Egypt is probably the last country it would make an example of at a time when an attack on Iraq may be in the works.
Clearly something has gone wrong in U.S.-Egyptian relations. Washington is signaling to Egypt that Cairo is not indispensable, or at the very least, that Cairo is pushing the limits of its relationship with the United States. A public scorching of a key ally is not done without due consideration and careful planning. The only thing missing is the explanation: What has Cairo done to so upset the United States that it would take this step? Sending Ibrahim to prison for seven years would not seem grave enough to elicit this response.
It is also unlikely that Egypt’s behavior toward Israel is the cause. Egypt has criticized Israel during the most recent violence with the Palestinians, but it has not broken diplomatic relations or abrogated the Camp David accords. Within limits, Egypt has played a relatively constructive role.
Cairo opposes a U.S. invasion of Iraq, but then again so does the entire Arab world. Egypt would not play a strategic role in any war with Iraq for geographic reasons. Washington may have been asking for port facilities in Alexandria or for airfields, and Egypt could have refused. But even if this is the case, the United States does not need Egyptian facilities, especially not enough to jeopardize the stability of President Hosni Mubarak.
Moreover, by all accounts Egypt has been working against al Qaeda effectively and enthusiastically. The Egyptian roots of al Qaeda threaten Mubarak as much as they threaten the United States.
A story circulating in the Middle East says that a rift has formed between the United States and Egypt over Sudan. On July 20 a treaty was signed in Nairobi between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army, a southern group that has fought a long civil war with Khartoum. The treaty attempts to end the war by giving the Christian and Animist south autonomy from the Muslim north, paving the way for eventual independence. Washington helped negotiate the agreement and supported it.
Egypt was not included in the negotiating process, in spite of its position that it has special interests at stake in the future of Sudan. Egypt does not support the division of any Arab country because of the precedent it might set. In addition, such a splitting of Sudan would put the flow of the Nile in the hands of a new country over which it has little influence.
Thus, there is a feeling in Egypt that the United States has pushed it out of an area that is properly in Egypt’s sphere of influence. Egyptian newspapers have speculated that Washington’s motives in excluding Cairo from the Sudanese negotiations involved a desire to control newly discovered oil in Sudan.
Another area of contention may be inaction over a free trade agreement between Washington and Cairo. Egypt has been expecting to receive the preferential trade status accorded other Middle Eastern allies like Israel and Jordan for some time, but so far the United States has held back on offering the deal. In early June U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick visited Cairo, and despite reports in the Egyptian press that his visit signaled an imminent FTA, such a deal did not materialize.
Both issues might explain why the Egyptians have been prickly with the United States. But they do not explain the massive public rebuke from the United States. There is a missing piece. If it is true that Egypt is deeply upset over Sudan, then Cairo must have quietly signaled Washington that it was going to limit its support of a vital U.S. issue.
The nature of the threat remains secret, but Washington -- knowing it was coming -- might have tried to warn the Egyptians of the consequences. By announcing the withholding of aid, the Bush administration chose to take a very public step. But while it showed Cairo that the United States was prepared to risk its relationship with Egypt, the move has no immediate consequences and gives both sides room to maneuver.
But what could Egypt have been threatening? It is not in a position to do anything about Iraq. It cannot limit its own war on al Qaeda. The only other issue that is of great importance to Washington is Israel.
In the end it might simply have been that the Bush administration, deeply offended by the jailing of Ibrahim, decided that it could not remain silent, regardless of strategic and national security interests. But somehow that just doesn’t ring true. What does appear to be the case is that both of the pillars of U.S. Middle East policy -- Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- are weakening.
Sunday, August 11th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told the Arabic satellite television Al- Jazeera in an interview that the Bush administration was "confused" and was making inspections into an issue in an attempt to use them as a tool in the latest showdown between Washington and Baghdad.
"The work within the U.N. concerning (prohibited weapons) in Iraq, this work has been achieved. They say that it hasn’t been achieved. They claim something remains. This talk can be responded to and disproved," al-Sahhaf said in the interview conducted in Iraq and monitored in Cairo, Egypt.
"This is a lie," he said of Washington’s insistence Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction. "Inspections have finished in Iraq."
Though Iraq feels the job is done, it was not clear whether al-Sahhaf’s remarks were intended as a final rejection of any return of weapons inspectors, as demanded by the United States and the United Nations.
Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Gulf war, cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify Iraq’s biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons have been destroyed along with the long-range missiles to deliver them. U.N. weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and Baghdad has barred them from returning.
The inspectors’ return is a key demand of the council, and especially of the United States, which has accused Iraq of trying to rebuild its weapons programs and of supporting terrorism.
President Bush, who has called for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s ouster, has threatened unspecified consequences if inspectors are not allowed to return and U.S. officials are talking openly about a new war with Iraq.
Iraq recently invited U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to meetings in Baghdad to determine how to resolve outstanding disarmament issues, a move Washington dismissed as a ploy. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Security Council members insist that Iraq follow a 1999 council resolution requiring inspectors to visit Iraq and then determine within 60 days what arms questions Iraq still must answer.
Baghdad also has insisted the U.N. Security Council reply to 19 political and technical questions it posed in March, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said last week that Iraq hasn’t shown any flexibility in resolving the standoff over weapons inspectors.
Monday, August 5th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The Egyptian government has arrested scores of alleged Islamist militants -- including members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood -- over the last few weeks in a widespread crackdown. So far those arrested have come predominately from the professional and academic circles in Egypt.
This suggests that the crackdown is more politics- than security-related. Rather than responding to an imminent threat posed by dissident factions within the security forces, the government may be launching pre-emptive strikes to neutralize political opponents prior to a possible U.S. war against Iraq.
Despite years of security crackdowns, radical Islamist groups continue to flourish in Egypt. However, no evidence has emerged that the security forces are a focus of the current arrests, which bodes well for the stability of the Egyptian government. In the past, members of the military, intelligence and police force have filled the ranks of extremist groups like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al Ga’amaa al Islamiyya.
With an eye toward a possible Baghdad campaign, Cairo currently seems focused on defusing potential political unrest -- in part due to its ties with Washington -- by targeting major opposition groups. The most important of these is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization deeply rooted in Egyptian society that has wide support among the country’s upper and middle classes.
Security forces arrested 34 alleged members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood July 21, including two university professors, a lawyer, a businessman and a hospital administrator. They were arrested during a meeting at the home of one of the group’s alleged leaders 42 miles north of Cairo.
The week before, security forces arrested 28 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members accused of planning a demonstration at Cairo’s famous al Azhar mosque. In all, Egyptian authorities have arrested 300 Brotherhood members in the last three months, the state-owned weekly Al Ahram reported Aug.1. Although officially banned by the government due to its calls for an Islamic state, the Brotherhood continues to operate underground, and candidates backed by the organization won 17 seats in Egypt’s 454-member Parliament in 2000.
Egyptian authorities also have targeted two other radical Islamist groups lately. On July 22, police arrested 15 men accused of printing leaflets calling for the overthrow of the government. The group is being investigated to see if the men were trying to revive 1970s militant group el Takfir wa el Hijra -- Arabic for "disavowing and flight" -- whose leaders and several members were executed in 1978 for killing a Muslim cleric.
In March, authorities also picked up 26 members -- including three Britons -- of the Hizb ut Tahrir group, also known as the Islamic Liberation Party. The organization is based in London and reportedly is dedicated to establishing an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law in Egypt, the London Daily Telegraph reported Aug. 5.
Fortunately for Cairo, apparently none of those arrested included members of the Egyptian security forces. The government’s chief concern is a possible assassination attempt against President Hosni Mubarak by a rogue faction of the police, intelligence or military. Late President Anwar al Sadat was killed by army First Lt. Khalid Islambouli in 1981.
The president is rumored to have survived numerous assassination attempts since he assumed office following Sadat’s death, and in March Mubarak pointed to security concerns as his justification for skipping an Arab summit in Beirut to discuss an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.
An assault on Mubarak now could rock the Egyptian state to its very core, causing power struggles to erupt between a well-organized and deeply-rooted Islamist movement, a plethora of security forces and a fractured political elite. Given the government’s long-term war with Islamists, the fact that few if any security personnel seem to be threatening the regime is in itself a victory for Cairo.
Wednesday, July 31st, 2002
: RCN Administrator
The suspect, Mohamed El-Atriss, apparently fled the United States for Egypt just before authorities came to arrest him in a raid on his home and businesses Wednesday, investigators said.
According to the FBI, an investigation determined El-Atriss had given phony IDs to Khalid Almihdhar, who was on the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon, and Abdul Aziz Alomari, who was aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center.
Under questioning, the Egyptian native had told an FBI agent that he provided a fake drivers license to one of the hijackers, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Carroll said.
Authorities in Passaic County, N.J., have charged El-Atriss with conspiracy, and manufacturing and distributing phony documents. They said the naturalized American citizen sold hundreds of fake drivers licenses, identification cards, auto titles and even license plates.
Officers who raided El-Atriss’s businesses and his Union Township home were told by workers at his stores that he had gone to Egypt. Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale said El-Atriss fled the country and is considered a fugitive.
Investigators were unsure whether the flight he took left on Tuesday or Wednesday. Authorities last saw El-Atriss in New Jersey on Monday, investigators said.
El-Atriss had not been under round-the-clock surveillance, sheriff’s Lt. Robert Weston said.
Speziale said Interpol, the global law enforcement agency, was notified that El-Atriss is wanted in New Jersey. His name has been added to a list circulated to airport security officials, Speziale said.
Five minutes before his Paterson business, All Services Plus, was raided, El-Atriss called the office and said he would be back in New Jersey in a day or two, Weston said.
Three employees at his stores — Clara Ortubia, 28, Yanelis Fabian, 32, and Valeria Pollero, 30 — were arrested during the raids and charged with manufacturing and distributing fraudulent documents and conspiracy.
In the Paterson office, investigators found rolls of plastic laminating sheets and backings used to make driver’s licenses for several states. A sign outside the building identified it as a provider of international driver’s licenses and ID cards, notary public, fax and passport services and a money transfer station.
Authorities said investigators have gathered 75 fake IDs that El-Atriss generated and sold for as much as $800 each, and they believe he made many more.
The investigation began after police in northern New Jersey started finding similar fake IDs, Speziale said. Authorities were tipped to El-Atriss by a St. Paul, Minn., company after he contacted it about paying cash for a high-speed copier capable of embossing seals.
El-Atriss never bought the copier but contacted a Paterson company, Symbology, about a similar purchase, Speziale said. When El-Atriss offered to pay cash for the machine, the company became suspicious and called the FBI, the sheriff said.
FBI agents posed as merchants at the store and sold El-Atriss the copier, Speziale said. Law enforcement authorities also bought fake IDs at El-Atriss’ stores.
El-Atriss provided phony licenses to as many as 18 customers per day, authorities estimated.
Investigators also want to know why the suspect wired thousands of dollars from his businesses to the Arab National Bank in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to a police affidavit, investigators determined El-Atriss made transfers of $8,000, $4,000 and $17,000 to the bank in January and February.
Monday, July 29th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
LONDON (July 30, 2002 12:03 p.m. EDT) - Britain has decided there is not enough evidence to begin extradition proceedings against an Egyptian activist wanted by the United States, which says he sent money to Afghanistan to sponsor terrorism.
Yasser el-Sirri, who has been free on bail, was ordered discharged Monday at Bow Street magistrates court after Home Secretary David Blunkett decided there was not enough evidence.
The Egyptian, who has lived in Britain since 1994, had been arrested in October and charged with conspiring to assassinate Afghan northern alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massood. Massood was mortally wounded in Afghanistan by two suicide bombers posing as journalists on Sept. 9.
British prosecutors accused el-Sirri of using his organization to give fake press credentials for the two men who detonated a bomb hidden in their camera while they pretended to interview Massood. Charges against el-Sirri were dropped, however, when a London judge ruled he was an unwitting accomplice.
He was immediately re-arrested on a U.S. extradition warrant, which alleges he sent the money to Afghanistan in May 2001, knowing it was to be used to sponsor terrorism within the United States.
El-Sirri was sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt in 1994 for his alleged involvement with a terrorist group blamed for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat.
El-Sirri, 39, runs the Islamic Observation Centre bookshop in Paddington, central London and has always protested his innocence.
The U.S. warrant alleged el-Sirri sent money to the Afghanistan-based family of Omar Abdel-Rahman, a Muslim cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks in the 1990s.
Lawyers for el-Sirri said he ran an Islamic organization that regularly sent money to the families of Islamic prisoners. They said the money sent to Afghanistan amounted to a few hundred dollars and was part of his humanitarian work.
Thursday, July 18th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak recently met with Saudi King Fahd in Geneva. Although billed as a personal visit, it may be part of an effort by Egypt -- as well as the United States -- to cut a deal with a more cooperative faction of the ruling House of Saud and return U.S.-Saudi relations to firmer footing.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak traveled to Geneva July 19 to meet with ailing Saudi King Fahd and United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. Both of the aging Persian Gulf leaders are in Switzerland for medical treatment.
Few details have emerged concerning the meetings, and Mubarak’s visit has been reported as private and not official. But it is likely that the visit was more than just personal. Egypt -- as well as the United States -- has several reasons to dislike the current leadership in Riyadh, epitomized by de facto leader Crown Prince Abdullah. Mubarak may be hoping to cut a deal with the king and his faction within the ruling House of Saud in hopes of undermining the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia under Abdullah has become a thorn in the United States’ side, while at the same time posing a serious challenge to Egypt’s traditional role as political leader of the Arab world. The faction of the royal family led by King Fahd is considered more pro-West and less radical in its religious views than the Abdullah faction. Fahd has been sidelined since a stroke in 1995, but his brothers -- Sultan and Nayef -- still hold important posts in the Saudi government (the defense and interior ministries) and have aspirations of retaking the top leadership from Abdullah.
Washington now is taking a hard look at its alliance with Riyadh and may be hoping for a shift in the balance of power within the ruling family. Egypt also has its own interest in a leadership change in Riyadh. It is the leader of the Levant Arab states and the strongest of Washington’s Arab allies. Mubarak’s meeting with Fahd might be an indirect way for the United States to communicate its desires to sympathetic factions in Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, Egypt may be hoping to counter Saudi Arabia’s growing clout in the Arab world. Cairo and Riyadh have long competed for the role of leader of the Arab world. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken the lead due to its overwhelming economic advantage. In 2000 the country’s $173 billion GDP nearly doubled Egypt’s $98 billion GDP.
Egypt would like to regain its leadership position, and, at the same time, the United States would prefer a moderate Cairo to a fundamentalist Riyadh as political leader of the Arab world. King Fahd, though in ill health and no longer in power, still represents the powerful Sudairi Seven -- a group of full brothers (including Fahd) who are the sons of the founder of modern day Saudi Arabia -- and any alliance between both the United States, Egypt and the Sudairi would need his symbolic blessing at the very least.
Mubarak’s visit to Geneva could be just as simple as the Egyptian president paying his respects to another aging Arab leader. However, in the context of the global situation and the current ambiguity in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, his visit takes on another, more strategic implication. It may signal a push by Cairo -- perhaps with support from Washington -- to weaken Abdullah’s regional position and stir up trouble in Riyadh.
Tuesday, July 9th, 2002
: RCN Administrator
A key Al Qaeda spokesman has made a new threat to attack American targets and urged Muslims the world over to "kill enemies of God everywhere."
"Al Qaeda will organize more attacks inside American territory and outside, at the moment we choose, at the place we choose and with the objectives that we want," Al Qaeda’s chief spokesman, Kuwaiti-born Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, said in an audio recording aired by an Islamic website believed to be close to the terror network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We are coming back, God willing, from where you cannot expect us," said Abu Ghaith in the interview broadcast on www.jehad.net.
The new targets, he said, will be "American and Jewish ... our arrogant enemies."
There is no way to verify the authenticity of Abu Ghaith’s interview, but U.S. officials said two weeks ago that a recent audio recording by him in which he claimed that Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden was still alive appeared to be legitimate. Government analysts matched the sound of his voice to previous recordings.
The recording, played on the website Wednesday, appeared to be the same voice.
Abu Ghaith interview on www.jehad.net. is the latest in a series of contacts between al-Qaida and the outside world after weeks of silence. These contacts were made on Islamic-militant oriented web sites whose availability on the Internet has been irregular.
The string of statements coincide with evidence Al Qaeda remains capable of planning attacks. Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it was holding 11 Saudis, an Iraqi and a Sudanese man belonging to a failed plot to shoot down a U.S. military plane taking off from a Saudi air base.
News of the Saudi arrests followed detentions in Morocco of three Saudis who were planning to attack U.S. and British warships in the Straits of Gibraltar.
Referring to the war in Afghanistan that followed the Sept. attacks, Abu Ghaith said in the latest interview that the U.S.-led military campaign has failed to crush the fighters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, claiming that it has instead destroyed Afghan villages and towns.
He said Al Qaeda operatives were currently carrying out surveillance operations to pick up new targets.
"Has our battle with America ended? It never ended and will never end because it is not a personal battle but rather a battle between right and wrong ... it is a struggle between good and evil," he said.
"America is the head of evil," he added.
Abu Ghaith said bin Laden and most of his top aides were unharmed. "I can assure you that 98 per cent of them are well and fine." He also promised, without giving details, that the Saudi-born bin Laden will "soon" appear in a a television interview.
"We are living in an age when the enemies of God have successfully killed the spirit of resistance and manhood in Muslims by undermining the Islamic creed," he lamented.
"My message to the Muslim youth is that Al Qaeda fighters are not the only ones meant to fight Jews ... it is a duty on all Muslims to rise and defend their religion."
Excerpts from the interview were published Tuesday by Algeria’s Arabic daily El Youm.
In another purported Al Qaeda statement on the same website, another Al Qaeda spokesman, identified as Abu Laith al-Libi, warned that Al Qaeda was "preparing for a coming period ... of guerrilla war."
"We have started changing the war to attacks and assassinations and we have succeeded in that with God’s help," al-Libi said without elaborating in the interview, excerpts of which were broadcast by the Middle East Broadcast Center late Tuesday.
There was no way to verify the authenticity of al-Libi’s statement either.