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Cablegate: Terrorism Strikes Cairo Again; Mubarak's

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 003239

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER KPAO IS RS EG
SUBJECT: TERRORISM STRIKES CAIRO AGAIN; MUBARAK'S
'HISTORIC' TV INTERVIEW: EGYPTIAN MEDIA THEMES, APRIL 25
TO MAY 3


1. (U) Summary: TV and print media devoted extensive
coverage to the April 30 terrorist attacks in Cairo,
quoting GOE officials' statements and noting that several
eyewitnesses had given conflicting versions of how the
attacks unfolded. Statements of condemnation from leading
Egyptian figures were printed and aired, while several
publications offered readers a "what really happened"
version of the attacks. President Mubarak's much-
publicized six-hour interview on Egyptian TV April 24-26
yielded no surprise announcements. Russian president
Vladimir Putin's visit to Egypt was widely covered and
praised by commentators, with one opining that Putin had
"energized the region." A leading Egyptian actress won the
Best Actress award at the 11th National Film Festival in
Cairo for her role in the controversial film "I Love
Cinema." End summary.

2. (U) Terrorism strikes Cairo: Two terrorist attacks
against tourists in Cairo on April 30 dominated media
coverage during Egypt's long holiday weekend. All media
outlets reported that Ehab Yousry Yassin, a suspect in the
April 7 Al Azhar bombing attack, had jumped from a bridge
and detonated a bomb near a group of tourists gathered
outside the Egyptian Museum. Pan Arab Al Arabiya satellite
channel was the first TV news outlet to offer coverage,
followed by Egypt's Nile News. (Note: Nile News was the
only Egyptian TV channel that covered the attack. The
others continued normal programming. End note.) At one
point during its live coverage, Nile News conducted a phone
interview with Deputy Chief for State Security, General
Fouad Allam, who stated that two victims were Israelis,
"probably attacked as the result of frustration over
Israeli practices."

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3. (U) Terrorism strikes Cairo (continued) - coverage the
day after: Photos in all major newspapers the following
day, May 1, showed Yassin's bloodied body on the street
with his head and left arm destroyed. The media also
reported that, after Yassin had conducted his attack, his
fiancee and sister opened fire on a bus of Israeli tourists
near Cairo's Citadel. No one was injured during the
firing, but the two attackers reportedly died at their own
hands. All newspapers highlighted various disparities
among eyewitnesses' accounts of the attacks, and printed
condemnations of the attackers by leading Egyptian figures,
including the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Grand Mufti. The
Muslim Brotherhood also issued a statement of condemnation,
claiming that such acts of terrorism in Egypt "serve the
American-Zionist plot."

4. (U) Terrorism strikes Cairo (continued) the real
scoop?: In an exclusive interview with pro-government Al
Gomhouriya (circulation: 200,000), Interior Minister Habib
Al Adly claimed that the April 30 attacks were "random
operations" perpetrated by individuals who were "not part
of a terrorist group or organization." Pro-government Al
Ahram (circulation: 750,000) published an article on May 2
based on information from a "high level security source"
claiming that Yassin's younger brother, reportedly still at
large, was believed to be in possession of an explosive
device. London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat's Cairo bureau
filed a report claiming that "well-informed sources" had
stated that Yassin, in fact, dropped his bomb on the group
of tourists at the Egyptian Museum and escaped. The
article's source claimed that the dead body on the scene
was that of a tour guide.

5. (U) Mubarak's interview: President Mubarak's
"historic" three-day TV interview with leading media figure
(and former presidential spokesman) Emadadeen Adeeb, April
24-26, failed to yield any of the surprise announcements
anticipated by the public. Most notable among statements
the Egyptian President did make was that he claimed to be
undecided as to whether or not he would run for a fifth
term later this year. Most pro-government and independent
media commentators had positive things to say about the
interview, although some criticism did appear in print,
including some by Mustafa Bakry, editor-in-chief of the
sensationalist weekly Al Osboa' (circulation: 50,000), who
called the interview "a disappointment." A commentator in
Al Ahram praised Mubarak's decision to wait, "unlike some
opposition candidates," before announcing his candidacy.
Unofficially, one pro-government journalist with whom a PA
officer spoke complained: "The interview was boring, even
embarrassing. After all these years, my colleagues and I
all expected something big. What we got was six more hours
of talk."

6. (U) Putin comes to town: Russian flags adorned the
capital and downtown traffic was frequently brought to a
stand-still during Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit
to Cairo, April 26 - 28. Commentary in both print and on
TV spoke positively of the visit, with some praising
Putin's "candor" and "ability to see the Arabs' predicament
clearly." A commentator in Al Ahram argued on April 30
that Putin's visit "... because of his call for an
international peace conference, energized the region."

7. (U) Best 'Christian wife' 2005: Egyptian actress Leila
Elwi won the Best Actress award at Egypt's 11th National
Film Festival, which ended on April 27, for her role in the
controversial film "I Love the Cinema". Elwi played the
role of a Christian wife repeatedly abused by her husband.
Egyptian news websites "albawaba.com" and "yallabina.com"
noted that several lawsuits have been filed against the
film. The latest is by a prominent Coptic lawyer demanding
that the film be banned as "it touches on Christian issues
not approved by the church." The lawsuit also demands an
official apology be made by the filmmakers to the Coptic
Church.

GRAY

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