Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egyptian Police Tighten Security

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egyptian Police Tighten Security

Article excerpt

THE large number of arrests following Parliamentary Speaker Rifaat Mahgoub's assassination last month is raising concern that angry Muslim fundamentalists may attempt further internal destabilization.

In the weeks following Mr. Mahgoub's killing, the security forces rounded up hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Jordanians - over 200 of whom remain in detention.

Most analysts contend the country is secure enough to counter any rumblings of discontent. But continued calm will depend on improvements in Egypt's faltering economy and events in the Gulf crisis, they say.

"Currently internal stability is not in danger," says a Western diplomat. "The problem is the possible events that may occur in the future."

The Ministry of Interior responded to Mahgoub's murder by increasing its already tight security measures. Fifty cars and 350 men were added to the forces in Cairo. The police force says it has implemented a strategy whereby areas in the city could be closed off in minutes to block the escape of suspected terrorists.

And the government has allotted an additional $4 million for security troops, according to Gen. Baha Din Ibrahim, first assistant in the Ministry of Interior.

"We are not expecting anything more to happen," General Ibrahim says. "They succeeded in one case, but we must remember the thousands of other events we prevented. They know quite well the police forces are waiting for them. It is not easy for them to move, and if they move, we shall act strongly."

The police say they are close to solving the mystery of Mahgoub's assassins. Over 300 suspects have been arrested in Cairo and in areas outside the city reputed to be enclaves of Muslim fundamentalist activity. The police allege the extremist Muslim Jihad organization was trying, with outside help, to kill Interior Minister Muhammad Abdel-Halim Mussa, but mistakenly shot Mahgoub. …

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