Egypt Hits States That 'Shelter' Islamic Militants
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday slammed countries that sheltered fugitive Muslim militants, and said they encouraged attacks like last week's massacre in Luxor of 58 foreign tourists.
Egyptian television showed Mr. Mubarak, who escaped an assassination attempt by militants in 1995 at the tourist resort of Aswan, saying, "If you do not want your sons to be killed, why do you protect killers?
"There are people who carried out crimes and who were sentenced [in Egypt] who live on British land and in other states such as Afghanistan," he said. Egypt has often complained that Western governments shelter Egyptian militants on the run from court sentences and that those fugitives pull the strings of comrades back home.
Egypt's largest militant group, Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), claimed responsibility for the attack, its deadliest since it took up arms in 1992 to overthrow the government and install a strict Islamic state.
Egypt's Interior Ministry said one of the gunmen behind the Luxor attack had spent time in Pakistan and Sudan, where he allegedly received military training.
Mubarak, who replaced his interior minister after it became apparent that security was lax at the site of the massacre, admitted policing could have been better but said that without the help of exiled militants, such attacks would not happen.
A few days after the massacre, the militants offered the government a conditional truce. But Mubarak ruled out any dialogue with Islamists.
"Dialogue has become worn out. We have been in dialogue with them since 1980," Mubarak said, referring to the year before militant soldiers assassinated his predecessor, Anwar Sadat. "We resumed dialogue from 1981 to 1993, when they started using arms."
It was not clear what kind of dialogue Mubarak was referring to, as his government has made it clear it was not interested in talking to groups it considers to be "terrorists." Mubarak replaced his interior minister in 1993 for suggesting the government should enter dialogue with Islamists.
Imprisoned militant leaders in July called on their followers to unilaterally stop violent operations. But the government ignored the truce, and leaders in exile refused to observe it.
Nearly 1,200 people have been killed in political violence in Egypt since 1992. The government has resorted to police crackdowns.
Human rights groups have blasted the government for putting civilian activists on trial before military courts.
"Those who look for human rights, let them look for the rights of those killed," Mubarak said.