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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Attack on Egypt helped the U.S. war on terror

The terrorist attack in Egypt may help to create a limited-purpose alliance with the United States.

Three bombs targeted the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheik. Egyptian officials believe Islamic militants carried out the attacks.

With the occasional exception of Pakistan, Islamic countries have been decidedly unenthusiastic in seeking out militants within their borders. Sometimes their reluctance is ideological. More often it is a matter of self-preservation.

Rocking the boatload of Islamic nutcases, Islamic nations fear with good reason, could cause those nuts to turn on fellow Muslims.

The United States is limited in its ability to apprehend those militants who hide in an Islamic state. Our intelligence remains poorly equipped to infiltrate Arabic society.

The political repercussions of pursuing suspects into a sovereign state potentially are disastrous. Our laws, designed to protect the innocent, are not well suited for the interrogations most likely to produce information about future attacks.

Egypt has no such constraints. Egyptians can infiltrate militant groups. They can, and frequently do, arrest innocent family members to force suspects to turn themselves in.

Buying cooperation, as we have with Pakistan, is of limited effect. We can never be sure whether the country is pursuing our enemies or just putting on a good show. Plus, we end up getting blamed for the human rights violations the purchased nation commits.

What we need is Islamic nations that want to defeat the terrorists as much as we do. Add Egypt to that small but growing group. The country is a free agent, its conduct neither controlled nor directed by the United States. It is also ruthless.

The tragic terror unleashed in Egypt ended the lives of innocent people and embarrassed the Egyptian government. It also helped focus the sometimes-blurred line that divides mainstream Muslims from their militant neighbors.

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