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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Fbi Director Mueller

DE RUEHEG #0179/01 0401442
R 091442Z FEB 10

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 000179


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/09

REF: CAIRO 64; CAIRO 47; 09 CAIRO 2164

CLASSIFIED BY: Margaret Scobey, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (SBU) Director Mueller, I warmly welcome you to Cairo. Your
visit provides the opportunity to review and reinforce our strong
law enforcement cooperation with the State Security Investigative
Service (SSIS), which is under the auspices of Minister of
Interior Habib Al Adly (we have requested separate meetings with
Adly and SSIS Director Hasan Abdul-Rahman) and other Egyptian
agencies involved in law enforcement and counter-terrorism issues.
We have also requested meetings with President Hosni Mubarak,
Director of Egyptian General Intelligence Omar Soliman and
Prosecutor General Abdel Magid Mahmoud.

2. (C) Building upon the optimism generated by a new U.S.
administration and President Obama's well-received June 4 speech in
Cairo, we resumed in June our Strategic Dialogue and set in place a
new framework for regular bilateral meetings with the Egyptians to
explore areas for cooperation and coordination, including examining
our respective assessments of strategic threats such as Iran. The
most recent meeting was hosted by Under Secretary of State Burns in
December in Washington. We are exploring other ways to translate
this sense of goodwill into concrete action, including a renewed
focus in our bilateral assistance programs on human capacity
development and strengthening Egypt's ability to compete in
education, science, and technology. We also recommend you seek an
opportunity to express concern about the continuation of the
Emergency Law.

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Regional Security: Iran, the Peace Process

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3. (S/NF) President Mubarak sees Iran as Egypt's -- and the
region's -- primary strategic threat. Egypt's already dangerous
neighborhood, he believes, has only become more so since the fall
of Saddam, who, as nasty as he was, nevertheless stood as a wall
against Iran. He now sees Tehran's hand moving with ease throughout
the region, "from the Gulf to Morocco." The immediate threat to
Egypt comes from Iranian conspiracies with Hamas (which he sees as
the "brother" of his own most dangerous internal political threat,
the Muslim Brotherhood) to stir up unrest in Gaza, but he is also
concerned about Iranian machinations in Sudan and their efforts to
create havoc elsewhere in the region, including in Yemen, Lebanon,
and even the Sinai, via Hezbollah. While Tehran's nuclear threat is
also a cause for concern, Mubarak is more urgently seized with what
he sees as the rise of Iranian surrogates (Hamas and Hezbollah) and
Iranian attempts to dominate the Middle East.

4. (S/NF) Egypt continues to support our efforts to resume
negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and maintains a
regular dialogue with all sides. Egyptian sponsored negotiations on
Palestinian reconciliation are ongoing. Egypt's objectives are to
avoid another Gaza crisis while eroding Hamas' power and ultimately
returning the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.

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Strong Counter-Terrorism Relationship

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5. (SBU) The U.S. has both an extradition and a mutual legal
assistance treaty with Egypt. We maintain close cooperation on a
broad range of counter-terrorism and law enforcement issues.

6. (C) Egypt suffered major domestic terror attacks in 2005 (a

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simultaneous triple bombing in Sharm El Sheikh, which killed 88 and
wounded 200), and in 2006 (triple bombing popular in the popular
tourist town of Dahab, which killed 24 people). In February 2009,
a bomb exploded in the popular Khan El Khalili market place,
killing a French teenager and wounding a number of foreign
tourists. A number of Egyptians and foreigners are in custody
while security services investigate. In late 2008, the GOE used
the Emergency Law to arrest members of a Hezbollah cell on
suspicion of targeting U.S. and Israeli ships transiting the Suez
Canal. The trial in a State Security Emergency court is ongoing.
In July 2009, the GOE used the Emergency Law to arrest a group of
25 Egyptians and one Palestinian on suspicion of weapons smuggling
to Gaza, building drones to assist Hamas, and according to one of
their lawyers, assisting in the February 22 Khan Al-Khalili market
bombing, among other crimes. They are also accused of killing a
Coptic jeweler and three of his employees in Cairo's Zeitoun
neighborhood in May 2008 to finance their activities. Members of
this cell are in detention awaiting trial.

7. (C) The Egyptian government's active opposition to Islamist
terrorism and effective intelligence and security services makes
Egypt an unattractive safe haven for terror groups. However,
Egypt's northern Sinai region is a base for the smuggling of arms
and explosives into Gaza, and a transit point for Gazan
Palestinians. Palestinian officials from Hamas have also carried
large amounts of cash across the border. The smuggling of weapons
and other contraband through the Sinai into Israel and the Gaza
Strip have created criminal networks that may be associated with
terror groups in the region. Recent violence by some Sinai Bedouin
may be linked in part to these smuggling networks and Egyptian
efforts to dismantle them.

8. (C) Many of the Egyptian government's far-reaching powers in the
realm of counter-terrorism come from a broad-reaching Emergency
Law, which has been in force almost continuously since 1967 (ref
A). The government has committed to lifting the State of Emergency
and replacing it with a counterterrorism law. Disagreements over
the law between the Interior Ministry and other agencies have
focused on the MOI's interest in long pre-trial detention, and
progress on the law has stalled. It will be useful to stress the
USG's interest in GOE passage of a counterterrorism law that will
protect civil liberties.


Internal Politics and Economics


9. (C) We continue to promote democratic reform in Egypt, including
the expansion of political freedom and pluralism, and respect for
human rights. We have urged the GOE to replace the State of
Emergency, in place almost continuously since 1967, with
counterterrorism legislation that protects civil liberties. While
often used to target violent Islamic extremist groups, the GOE has
also used the Emergency Law to target political activity by the
Muslim Brotherhood, writers, activists and others. The Interior
Ministry uses SSIS to monitor and sometimes infiltrate the
political opposition and civil society, and to suppress political
opposition through arrests, harassment and intimidation.

10. (C) The GOE remains skeptical of our role in democracy
promotion, complaining that any efforts to open up will result in
empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, which currently holds 86 seats
-- as independents -- in Egypt's 454-seat parliament. Elections
for the upper house of the parliament, or the Shura Council, are to
be held in June 2010 and elections for the lower house of
parliament or the People's Assembly are now scheduled for October
2010. Presidential elections will be held in 2011. President
Mubarak, in power for over 28 years, has not announced whether he
will run again. Some believe that he is grooming his son, Gamal
Mubarak, to succeed him as President.

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11. (U) Egypt has made some progress on economic reform, and the
country saw growth rates averaging more than 7% from 2005-2008.
However, the impact of the economic expansion has not been felt by
all segments of the population, and approximately 40% of Egyptians
live on less than $2 per day. High inflation has also negatively
impacted the standard of living for many Egyptians. In 2009, as
exports, Suez Canal revenues, tourism, and remittances all declined
in the face of the global economic crisis, GDP growth slowed to
4.5%. The growth rate is expected to improve to 5.4% in 2010.
US-Egyptian trade reached roughly $7.5 billion in 2009, with the US
exporting to Egypt more than twice what it imports.

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Police Brutality and Human Rights Abuses

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12. (C) Egypt's police and domestic security services continue to
be the subject of persistent, credible allegations of abuse of
detainees. Police brutality in Egypt against common criminals is
routine and pervasive, resulting in part from poor training and
understaffing. Over the past five years, the government has
acknowledged that torture takes place, but maintains that it is
unusual, and is committed by a small minority of officers. Since
late 2007, courts have sentenced approximately 18 police officers
to prison terms for torture and killings. The GOE has not yet made
a serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of
regime power into a public service institution, but there are
indications that the government is allowing the courts increased
independence to adjudicate some police brutality cases. Credible
human rights lawyers believe the GOE is adapting to increased media
and blogger scrutiny of torture cases by intimidating victims into
dropping cases against the Interior Ministry (ref C). During his
January 12-14 visit to Cairo, Assistant Secretary of State for
Democracy, Labor and Human Rights Posner raised the issue of police
brutality with SSIS Director Rahman (ref B). Your meetings would
be a useful opportunity to reinforce this message and offer
continued USG assistance in training and education.

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