The Usual Suspects

June 28, 1995

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak brutally suppresses the Islamic extremist insurrection against his rule, and a lot of innocent fundamentalist Muslims with it, and has traced their arms to Sudan.

So when he was ambushed in Addis Ababa on Monday, the Organization of African Unity summit he was attending was startled equally by the audacity and the failure of the assassination attempt.

Mr. Mubarak went home and immediately voiced suspicion of Sudan. Sudanese exiles in Egypt, including former President Jaafar Nimeiri, accused the current Sudanese government and its spiritual guide, Hassan al-Turabi.

The United States government holds Sudan's regime responsible for sponsoring terrorism, especially against Egypt and the Middle East peace process. Sudan is widely seen as a funnel for arms and funds sent from the revolutionary Iran to Arab oppositionists throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Sudan denied complicity in the plot against Mr. Mubarak. A semi-official newspaper in Iraq expressed glee at the murder attempt, as retribution for Egypt's support of the United States against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991.

Algeria, which is reeling from an Islamic extremist insurrection, is reportedly making a deal with the more moderate Islamic leaders. Algerian President Liamine Zeroual and Mr. Mubarak held a long meeting in Cairo, Sunday, before going separately to Addis Ababa.

Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt make common cause against the violent political extremism which wraps itself piously in the Koran, and which threatens the PLO leadership in Palestine and its accord with Israel as well. The U.S. is trying a group of adherents of this cause, led by an Egyptian cleric wanted for fomenting terrorism in Egypt, for planning terrorism in New York.

The mounting of a carefully prepared assassination attempt in Addis Ababa was an embarrassment to Ethiopia's President Meles Zenawi, who took over as chairman of the OAU at the disrupted meeting. Along with the OAU secretary-general, Salim Ahmed Salim, he is trying to raise African and North African funds and firepower for the OAU's conflict resolution and peace-keeping capacity, both of which are sorely stretched.

Egyptian and Ethiopian police are investigating the assassination attempt, two of whose perpetrators were slain. Credible identification of the assassins would do more than any number of roundups of the devout to combat terrorism. The assassins failed, and the failure can be turned to good use.

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