Egypt 'foiled Islamic plot'

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The Independent Online
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IN AN acknowledgement that Islamic extremists still threatened the security of the state, Egypt's Interior Minister told the daily Al-Ahram that the authorities had foiled a plot by radicals to mount a campaign of chaos across the country by bombing public squares and the railways and assassinating 10 leading political figures during the Eid Al-Adha holiday period.

The Minister, Hassan Al-Alfy, said that 30 'terrorists' had been seized, along with explosives and weapons.

Such revelations by government ministers have in the past been used to justify heavy crackdowns by the security services. However, the scepticism of the Egyptian public will be tempered by the knowledge that there is a major confrontation with Islamic extremists who have recently set off bombs in public places and made assassination attempts, some successful, on leading personalities.

The minister said the authorities discovered that huge economic support had come from the leadership outside Egypt in the United States, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. He said that each operation had a budget of up to dollars 30,000 (pounds 19,400).

Egypt has consistently accused outside powers of being behind the wave of attacks that have devastated the country's tourist industry. The last interior minister was sacked after he said there was no evidence from a security point of view for foreign sponsorship of the violence. Whatever the extent of the help received from Egyptians or others abroad, the rise in Islamic opposition is largely due to widespread dissatisfaction with the corruption of the state and its institutions.

The Interior Minister's remarks come only days after six men convicted of trying to kill the despised Information Minister, Safwat al-Sharif, were sentenced to death.