A reliable military source in Cairo said the agents - about 40 of whom are US-trained - began to arrive in London in November as part of an operation to track down and kill the Egyptian regime's enemies abroad. A number of the agents are believed to be armed, one Egyptian source described them as "hit squads", and their presence in Britain is likely to cause the government deep concern.
It is unclear whether the British security services were told of the decision to send the agents, the last of whom is said to have arrived on 20 November. Their dispatch to Europe follows promises by the Egyptian Interior Minister to hunt down Muslim militants who - intimidated by police shoot-to-kill tactics, torture and death sentences at home - have pursued their war against Egyptian diplomats abroad.
An Egyptian official was murdered in Geneva last month and a suicide car-bomber blew up the Egyptian embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, six days later, killing 18 people. Another 100 Egyptian agents were due to be sent to Pakistan on a similar mission to their counterparts in Britain, but their departure from Cairo was cancelled after the Islamabad bombing. At least one Egyptian militant, Talaat Qassem of the Gema'a Islamiya - the Islamic Group - went missing in the Croatian capital of Zagreb while visiting Islamist groups in Bosnia in September. The group later accused Egypt of abducting him back to Cairo.
President Hosni Mubarak has blamed Britain and Germany for offering asylum to the regime's militant opponents, warning that both countries will "pay a heavy price" for giving sanctuary to Egypt's enemies.
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