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Northeast Africa

Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which claims responsibility for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the 1997 Luxor massacre of tourists, is one of al Qaeda’s top leaders. Sought by authorities, he joined bin Laden in Afghanistan, moved with him to Sudan in 1991 and then returned with him to Afghanistan in 1996. Another radical Islamic group, the Jihad Al Gamaa al Islamiya, an active partner with al Qaeda, wants to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The group’s leader, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, is serving time in the United States for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Egypt’s successful crackdown on domestic Muslim radicals coincided with the radicals’ decision to focus attacks on more international targets — such as the United States. When the suspects in a 1995 attempt to assassinate Mubarak fled to Sudan, the United Nations imposed sanctions to get Sudan to hand them over, unsuccessfully. U.S. cruise missiles destroyed a Khartoum factory linked to bin Laden after the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in nearby Kenya and Tanzania. Recent U.S. contacts to help end Sudan’s civil war led to crackdown on bin Laden associates there. Guerrillas in Somalia who killed 18 U.S. soldiers protecting a U.N. famine relief program were reportedly trained by an al Qaeda cell in Kenya.

Area: Somalia (246,200 square miles); Egypt (386,700 square miles); Sudan (967,500 square miles).

Population: Egypt (68.3 million); Somalia (7.4 million); Sudan (35 million).

Economy: Egypt is one of the top recipients of U.S. aid — $2 billion a year.


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