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Egyptian Diplomat Kidnapped in Iraq - 2004-07-24

An Egyptian diplomat was kidnapped in Iraq in what has become a wave of abductions aimed at U.S. allies and other nations helping Iraq's interim government.

The kidnappers seized Mohammed Mamdouh Qutb as he left a Baghdad mosque Friday night. Footage of Mr. Qutb seated before six masked gunmen was aired on al-Jazeera satellite TV station, along with a demand that Egypt send no security experts to the Iraqi interim government.

The abduction of the third-ranking Egyptian diplomat in Baghdad came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi visited Cairo for high-level talks. The group that carried out the abduction, calling themselves the Lions of God Battalion in Iraq, said the kidnapping was to protest the plan of sending Egyptian security experts to Iraq.

Editor of the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies' quarterly journal, Hala Mustafa, says the abduction is clearly intended to make Egypt hesitate to support the new Iraqi government.

"It could be an attempt to impede Egypt from joining the international or the multinational troops in Iraq because the prime minister of Iraq was in Egypt recently and the talking I think was about sending Egyptian troops in Iraq or contributing to the peacekeeping there and I think this is a kind of impeding or putting obstacles in front of the Egyptian government," she said.

Egyptian authorities have so far declined to contribute troops to Iraq but they have offered to supply expertise and equipment.

General Hossam Sowaillam, the former director of the Strategic Center of the Armed Forces, says Egypt can not afford to compromise with Iraqi insurgents.

"We have not to surrender to those terrorists in Iraq, to their threats. We have not to surrender to them, we have not to give up," he said. "We have not to respond to their threats like what happened in Philippines. I think it is against our own security as well as against the peace of the world."

Last week, the Philippine government agreed to withdraw a 50-plus peacekeeping force in exchange for the release of a Philippine national.