Airlift of 3,000 Secret Servicemen to Cairo to secure Obama speech to Muslims DEBKAfile Special Report May 31, 2009
US president Barack Obama has not yet decided whether his historic speech reaching out to the Muslim world will be delivered on June 4 from a lecture hall at Al Azhar University in Cairo or its main mosque, DEBKAfile's Middle East sources report. If the second, his address will take place in the presence of Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the Sunni Muslim world's greatest religious authority. In any event, Al Azhar is the most eminent school of Islamic learning in the world and the US president therefore expects its impact to far outweigh his first address to Muslims from Istanbul.
His arrival from a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on June 3 is planned to add extra weight to Obama's dramatic outreach to Muslims, since the king officiates as Custodian of the Holy Places to Islam.
Radical Muslims will therefore have all the more reason for rejecting it.
Giant transports have been landing at Cairo airport, unloading a fleet of armored vehicles, White House helicopters, counter-terror weapons and the vanguard of the 3,000 Secret Service officers backed by CIA and FBI personnel who will secure the US president during his stay in Egypt. Cairo will soon be in turmoil as forces are deployed from a command center at the American Embassy to control sections of downtown Cairo, with guard posts on the Nile River's banks, the international airport, main railway terminals and approaches to the city.
Some 30,000 Egyptian security personnel including army units stationed in Cairo have been placed on special duty until the American president leaves. Their names and those of the welcoming party at Al Azhar University were submitted to the US presidential security center.
Obama is due to land in Cairo Thursday at 10 a.m., drive to the Abidin Palace to meet President Hosni Mubarak and proceed from there to Azhar University. His convoy will be escorted by vehicles equipped with sensors for detecting firearms and explosives and covered by Marine helicopters overhead.
Until the last minute, the president's routes to the university have been withheld from Egyptian security authorities as a safeguard against leaks to hostile elements. Click to go to the article