Omar Suleiman brings history of torture and brutality to his new job

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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Who is Vice-President Omar Suleiman
  • From 1993 until January 2011, Suleiman was Minister without portfolio and Chief of Egypt’s feared General Intelligence Service.
  • In 1995, Suleiman worked closely with the Clinton administration in devising and implementing its CIA rendition program; back then, rendition involved kidnapping suspected terrorists and transferring them to a third country for questioning.
  • Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments; that is, Omar Suleiman negotiated directly with top CIA officials.
  • After September 2001, Egypt figured large as a torture destination of choice, as did Suleiman as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief.
  • One of the victims of the CIA rendition program was a Canadian citizen, Ahmad El Maati, who was detained and tortured in Egypt for 22 months.
  • Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself in October 2001.
    • To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib
  • Prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the CIA transferred a detainee in Afghanistan known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi to Egypt who confessed under torture that there was a link between Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.
    • When the then US secretary of state Colin Powell made the case for war before the United Nations, he referred to details of al-Libi’s confession. Al-Libi eventually recanted his account.
    • Thus Egypt provided the fake information used by the United States to go to war in Iraq.
  • Wiklieaks dispatches disclose that Suleiman authorised draconian steps to prevent African migrants from entering the Sinai Peninsula en route to Israel, a path trodden by many Sudanese refugees.
    • A November 2007 cable quotes Mr Suleiman as saying that he is preventing "all black people from accessing the Sinai, even as tourists".
  • Other Wikileaks files suggest that Suleiman wanted Hamas "isolated", and thought Gaza should "go hungry but not starve".
  • On 29 January 2011 Mubarak sought to quell anti-regime unrest by appointing Suleiman as Vice-President.
  • On 3 February 2011, in an interview on state television, Suleiman accused the demonstrators in Tahrir Square of implementing foreign agendas, and described foreign jounalists as ememies of the state.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch assert Suleiman’s career has moved in lockstep with a regime marked by widespread abuses.
Both the United States and Israel see Omar Suleiman as the preferred candidate to replace Hosni Mubarak – that is, they want to exchange a dictator for another dictator who is also a torturer – to maintain the status quo.
As people in Egypt and around the world speculate about the fate of the Mubarak regime, one thing should be very clear: Omar Suleiman is not the man to bring democracy to the country. His hands are too dirty, and any ‘stability’ he might be imagined to bring to the country and the region comes at way too high a price.

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