THREE suspected Muslim extremists opened fire on the car of an Egyptian Army general yesterday, apparently in revenge for the hanging of five extremists a day earlier. One of the gunmen was killed in return fire by the Army, security officials said, and the two others were captured and arrested.
The hangings Saturday were part of the government's efforts to squash a violent campaign by Islamists meant to topple the secular government and install strict Muslim rule. The intended victim in yesterday's attack was Maj. Gen. Osman Shaheen, commander of the central military area of Cairo.
The men who were executed on Saturday were members of Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group), whose spiritual leader is Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. The blind sheikh is now jailed in the United States, and a dozen of his followers have been charged in the Feb. 26 bombing of the World Trade Center and an alleged plot to attack other New York landmarks. In the US, another follower of Sheikh Rahman was charged Saturday in a federal complaint with conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Abdo Mohammed Haggag and his accomplices allegedly planned to assassinate President Mubarak in late March or early April when he visited the US. After Mubarak changed his travel plans and skipped New York, the complaint alleged, the men decided to delay the plot to September, when Mubarak was expected to return.
Mr. Haggag and two others named in the alleged assassination plot are among those also charged with a plan to bomb such New York locations as the UN building and the Lincoln tunnel.
Israel yesterday warned guerrillas in southern Lebanon it will retaliate for attacks on its soldiers. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said in a statement that Israel had sent reinforcements to its self-declared security zone in Lebanon.
The warning followed an attack on an Israeli patrol in the zone Saturday in which two soldiers were wounded and a Lebanese Muslim was killed. Guerrillas killed five Israeli soldiers in two earlier attacks on July 8 and 9.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara was quoted by official newspapers Saturday as saying any attack against Lebanon was an attack against Syria, the main foreign power in Lebanon.