Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

O. Suleiman, 76, Powerful Egyptian Spymaster

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

O. Suleiman, 76, Powerful Egyptian Spymaster

Article excerpt

Omar Suleiman, the former leader of Egypt's intelligence service, represented the Mubarak government's last attempt to hold onto power. He held close ties with the C.I.A., which he helped to establish the practice of extraordinary rendition and, critics say, the torture of terrorism suspects.

Omar Suleiman, the once-powerful head of Egypt's intelligence service who represented the old regime's last attempt to hold onto power, died in an American hospital early Thursday, according to the state-owned Middle East News Agency. Mr. Suleiman was 76.

Egyptian critics immediately saw his death in the United States as emblematic of his close ties with the C.I.A., which he helped to establish the practice of extraordinary rendition and, critics say, the torture of terrorism suspects.

When the agency asked Mr. Suleiman if he could provide a DNA sample from a brother of the Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mr. Suleiman offered to send the agency the brother's entire arm instead, Ron Suskind, the author of "The One Percent Doctrine," told ABC News.

Mr. Suleiman's supporters, however, mourned the loss of a moderate regime figure who might have served as a buffer between military rule on the one hand and a growing Islamic dominance on the other.

In 18 years as the head of the powerful General Intelligence Directorate, a domestic and international intelligence agency better known as the Mukhabarat, Mr. Suleiman became, in the view of many, the most powerful spymaster in the Middle East.

As Mr. Mubarak was buffeted by months of street protests and calls for his resignation, he turned to Mr. Suleiman to lead negotiations with his critics. Later he charged him with a last- ditch effort to reorganize the government, appointing him to the long-vacant post of vice president. But the move was widely ridiculed by revolutionaries, and 13 days later, on Feb. …

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