Revolution Online, February 7, 2011

Omar Suleiman: What does torture have to do with the man the U.S. is promoting in Egypt?

The New York Times on February 5 reported that "The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt's vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power."

Who is Omar Suleiman? An Egyptian army general, in the 1980s he trained at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. Suleiman became the director of Egyptian military intelligence in 1991. In 1993 he was appointed chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, the infamous Mukhabarat, a vast network that carries out internal repression of dissent and protest, using disappearances, torture and indefinite detention without trial, all under the state of emergency that Mubarak has imposed since 1981. Suleiman has been the principal liaison between the Egyptian military dictatorship and the U.S. ruling class for decades, regardless of which administration has occupied the White House.

On top of supervising Egypt's police-state functions, Suleiman has conducted vital service in the U.S. "war on terror" and in safeguarding the security of the most reliable instrument of U.S. domination in the Middle East—the state of Israel. Suleiman's duties have been:

  1. to perform interrogation and torture of people labeled by the U.S. as "terrorist suspects" who are handed over to the Mukhabarat as part of the U.S. practice of "extraordinary rendition." This setup was put into place in 1995 under President Clinton. Two prominent cases that have come to light include Abu Omar, an Egyptian Muslim cleric living in Italy who was kidnapped by the CIA in 2003 and turned over to Suleiman and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who was captured in Pakistan in November 2001. Al-Libi was transferred to Egypt and under severe torture authorities said he "confessed" to knowledge that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was aiding Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda. This fabrication was used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
  2. to protect Israel from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organization. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the groups in Egypt most targeted by Suleiman's apparatus. WikiLeaks has published a cable, classified by the U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey in June 2009 detailing a meeting CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus had with Suleiman. According to the cable, Suleiman told the general, "Egypt's three primary objectives with the Palestinians were to maintain calm in Gaza, undermine Hamas, and build popular support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas." On undermining Hamas, Suleiman said, "Egypt has 'stopped' money and arms from entering Gaza." He continued, "Hamas feels they are losing their capabilities." According to the cable, which was cleared by General Petraeus, Suleiman went on to report that Hamas was unable to re-arm using the tunneling network under the Egypt-Gaza border. During the January 2009 assault on Gaza by Israel in which over 1,300 Palestinian civilians were murdered by Israeli bombs and artillery, Egypt's prime action was to seal its border with Gaza, destroy tunnels vital to sustaining life in Gaza due to the total Israeli and Egyptian blockade, and to machine-gun Palestinians who desperately attempted to breach the border with Egypt in search of sanctuary from Israeli murder.


"West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition" The New York Times, February 5, 2011

"Who is Omar Suleiman?" by Jane Meyer, The New Yorker, January 29, 2011

"Mubarak's Top Spy Rejected by Cairo Streets as Masses March" by Gregory Viscusi and Thomas Penny, Bloomberg Businessweek, February 1, 2011

"Cleric's story of abduction, torture" by John Crewdson, Chicago Tribune, January 7, 2007,0,121063.story

"WikiLeaks Informationthread 49: Omar Suleiman And Etc." by Cedar Park, Daily Kos, January 29, 2011

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