US embassy cables: Soliman on dangers of Muslim Brotherhood (Ekhwan)
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000941
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/14/2016
TAGS: PTER, PREL, KISL, EG
SUBJECT: FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER’S VISIT TO EGYPT
REF: CAIRO 493
Classified by DCM Stuart Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) During his February 8-9 visit to Egypt FBI Director Robert Mueller held a series of cordial and productive meetings with President Mubarak, Intelligence Chief Soliman, Interior Minister Adly, and State Security Director Abdel Rahman. The strength of the bilateral security relationship, and means to expand it, was a key topic of conversation. Also discussed were the implications of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, the proliferation of extremist ideologies, and the nebulous nature of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians were typically conservative in their assessments, but warmly welcomed the Director’s push to further develop security ties through specific technical cooperation programs. End summary.
Security Ties Solid, Durable
2. (C) Director Mueller’s early morning February 9 call on President Mubarak set the tone for all of his meetings with the GOE. Accompanied by the Ambassador, Cairo LEGAT Joe Brent, and FBI Counter Terrorism Analysis Section Chief Leonard “Chip” Yorke, the Director was warmly received by Mubarak, who affirmed that he was very supportive of the strong bilateral security relationship. EGIS Director Soliman, Interior Minister Adly, and State Security Director Abdel Rahman all echoed the view that U.S. – Egypt cooperation in the fields of counter terrorism and law enforcement were solid and to the benefit of both sides.
3. (C) The Egyptians also welcomed Director Mueller’s call for expanding the scope of U.S.-Egypt security cooperation by focusing on specific areas like the sharing of biometric data on suspected terrorists/extremists. With the advent of new technologies, increasingly shadowy and diffuse terrorist movements, and porous international borders, close technical cooperation and information-sharing between allied governments was now an absolute necessity, the Director argued. The issue was discussed in particular detail in the Director’s conversations with Interior Minister Adly and State Security Director Abdel Rahman. Noting that the U.S. had collected biometric data on tens of thousands of suspected terrorists and extremists around the world, including many thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past three years, the Director asserted that the U.S. was prepared to share all of our data, and related hardware and technical expertise used to collect, store, and process it, with Egypt. Both Adly and Abdel Rahman indicated enthusiasm in response.
4. (C) Over lunch at State Security Headquarters, Director Abdel Rahman said that his staff enjoy strong working relations with the Cairo LEGAT office and pledged that State Security would continue to be as responsive as possible to U.S. requests for information and assistance. At the lunch, Director Mueller invited his counterpart to lead a team of senior State Security officials to visit the United States and see first hand the latest facilities and technologies the U.S. could share with allies like Egypt in the global war against terrorism and extremism. Director Mueller hoped that, in particular, the State Security Director could visit the FBI’s fingerprint facility in West Virginia and the training academy in Quantico, Virginia. Abdel Rahman affirmed that he would welcome such an opportunity.
Extremism and Regional Unrest
5. (C) During all of the Director’s meetings in Cairo, his Egyptian hosts noted the unrest in different parts of the region and the threat these problems posed for the overall security environment. Continuing violence in Iraq, political instability in the Palestinian territories, and tensions between the West and Iran were all being exploited by extremists to incite the Arab-Muslim public, President Mubarak and the other GOE officials noted. The Danish cartoon controversy was the latest manifestation of this problem, Mubarak observed, criticizing the Danish Government for what he saw as its awkward and “arrogant” handling of the matter. In his meeting with the Director, EGIS Director Soliman underlined that insufficient educational and economic opportunities were at the root of extremism in Egypt and the wider region, and asserted that Egypt had a “five year plan” to address this problem, with Mubarak’s economic cabinet working intensely to shore up and modernize Egypt’s economy.
Egypt’s Stabilizing Role
6. (C) Mubarak quickly outlined for the Director Egypt’s efforts (further detailed in the Director’s meeting with Soliman) to promote stability in the region, citing recent efforts to cool tensions between Lebanon and Syria and offer training and technical support to Lebanon’s fledgling security services, as they attempt to fill the vacuum left by Syria’s withdrawal. While disdaining the government in Teheran, Mubarak counseled a measured and cautious approach toward Iran, with an emphasis on multilateral diplomatic efforts. The political crisis in the Palestinian territories, and its implications for security, was a subject of particular focus in the Director’s meetings with President Mubarak and EGIS Director Soliman. Egypt has long been working to tame and moderate Palestinian extremist movements, Soliman noted, reporting that he would soon visit Damascus in an attempt to get the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to abandon its violent ways in favor of negotiation.
7. (C) Though Mubarak and Soliman, as well as Interior Minister Adly, all expressed wariness over the implications of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, Mubarak nonetheless advised a pragmatic approach, warning that cutting aid to the Palestinians would be counterproductive. Soliman detailed Egypt’s efforts to press Hamas to adopt realistic and responsible positions, most recently during an early February visit to Cairo by a delegation of senior Hamas leaders. Unless Hamas lives up to the PA‘s international obligations, abandons violence, and recognizes Israel, Soliman had warned the Hamas leaders, they would not get Egypt’s support. Soliman reported that Hamas leaders appeared to understand that they needed Egypt and seemed ready to fulfill the PA‘s international obligations and adhere to a cease-fire with Israel, but that they were still balking at recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Soliman added that the issue of recognition might be finessed through Hamas’ joining the PLO. Given the PLO’s previous explicit recognition of Israel, Hamas’ entry into the group would imply recognition and thus be a step forward, he opined. Director Mueller thanked Egypt for its consistently constructive role, in difficult circumstances, in international efforts to manage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Muslim Brotherhood on the Home Front
8. (C) Like all of the Director’s Egyptian interlocutors, Mubarak slammed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a “dangerous” and duplicitous movement XXXXXXXXXXXX. Mubarak underscored the historic links between the MB and Hamas, also noting the Egyptian MB‘s counterpart groups in Jordan, Kuwait, and farther a field. EGIS Director Soliman noted that the MB was “neither a religious organization, nor a social organization, nor a political party, but a combination of all three.” The principal danger, in Soliman’s view, was the group’s exploitation of religion to influence and mobilize the public. Soliman asserted that the MB has spawned “11 different Islamist extremist organizations,” most notably the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Gama’a Islamiya (Islamic Group). Soliman termed the MB‘s recent success in the parliamentary elections as “unfortunate,” adding his view that although the group was technically illegal, existing Egyptian laws were insufficient to keep the MB in check. Director Mueller told the Egyptians that the Bureau was keeping an eye on the MB‘s fundraising and organizational efforts in the U.S. and would keep Egypt advised of relevant information the FBI developed.
9. (U) Director Mueller did not clear this message before departing Egypt. RICCIARDONE