Egypt's former spy chief dies


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The Independent Online

The former spy chief Omar Suleiman – top lieutenant and keeper of secrets for the deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – died yesterday. He was 76.

Mr Suleiman, who said little but had a finger in virtually every vital security issue confronting Egypt, was dubbed by the media as the "black box". Like Mr Mubarak, he was a fierce enemy of Islamists in Egypt and throughout the region, and a friend to the US and Israel. The official Middle East News Agency said Mr Suleiman had suffered from lung and heart problems and his health had sharply deteriorated over the past three weeks. He was treated at a hospital in Cleveland and died early yesterday.

Mr Suleiman was appointed Vice-President on 29 January 2011, at the peak of the revolution, a last-gasp attempt by Mr Mubarak to save his political life as Egyptians took to the streets demanding his removal. But this and other desperate measures, including talks between Mr Suleiman and the formerly outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, were unable to stave off Mubarak's overthrow. It was Mr Suleiman who appeared on TV on 11 February 2011 to announce that Egypt's leader of nearly three decades was stepping down.

Mr Suleiman disappeared from public view only to return earlier this year as a presidential candidate, sparking fears of a Mubarak regime comeback. However, the election commission disqualified him. AP