Egypt recruited agents abroad to counter Iran, says WikiLeaks

Washington–Egypt's spy master revealed his service recruited agents in Iraq and Syria to counter Iranian support for militants in his country, according to US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.

Omar Suleiman told US top military commander Admiral Michael Mullen in a 2009 meeting that Iran had tried to recruit Bedouins to smuggle weapons into Hamas-controlled Gaza and that Egyptian security had rounded up a cell of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

"'Iran must pay the price' for its actions and not be allowed to interfere in regional affairs," the US Cairo embassy cable published this week, dated 30 April, 2009, quoted Suleiman as telling Admiral Michael Mullen.

"If you want Egypt to cooperate with you on Iran, we will … It would take a big burden off our shoulders," Suleiman is quoted as saying in the cable.

The intelligence chief also told Mullen that "'Egypt has started a confrontation with Hezbollah and Iran,'… (and) if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere in Iran,' the cable said.

Suleiman reportedly added that the Egyptian General Intelligence Service had already begun recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria.

In a separate cable on a meeting with another top US commander, General David Petraeus, later in 2009, Suleiman accused Iran of supporting the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and the militant Gamaa Islamiya group.

"Suleiman stressed that Egypt suffers from Iranian interference, through its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies, and its support for Egyptian groups" like the Gamaa and the Brotherhood, said the cable dated 14 July.

He told Petraeus, however, that Iran had "heeded" Egypt's warning to stop interfering in the country.

Other cables published by WikiLeaks on US meetings with Suleiman and President Hosni Mubarak revealed a government that felt threatened by Iran's nuclear program, although it advised against a military strike on Tehran.

"We are all terrified" by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, Mubarak told visiting US congressmen.

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