WASHINGTON -- "I think that the war on terror, if it's a war, then it has to be treated as a war."
Ahmed Nazief, the Egyptian prime minister, recently explained to a group of Tribune reporters and editors why his country has agreed to receive what he estimates are "60 to 70" suspected terrorists delivered into its hands from all points of the globe by the CIA.
"As terrorism has crossed borders, it's the right of the people who are doing the investigations to also cross borders. At the end of the day, you have those people being investigated," Nazief said.
"Whether it's in Egypt or the U.S. or they're kept in Guantanamo or in a prison near Cairo is immaterial in this case. It's not the physical location. It's the process itself."
Egypt has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East since 1979, the year it agreed to peace with Israel and began receiving more than $50 billion in U.S. aid.
The nation appears to have received more such deliveries of terror suspects, known as "renditions," than any other country, in large part because it is the native land of many of the militants who carried the Muslim doctrine of jihad, or holy war, to Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Nazief admitted he isn't "privy to the details of each case," which he said are worked out between "security people" in Egypt and the U.S. But he said he has no concern about the practice as long as the "rendered" suspects are Egyptian nationals.
Nazief also acknowledged that a criminal charge isn't necessary to land a suspected terrorist in an Egyptian prison.
"If they fall within our definition, and your definition, of terrorists, they're dealt with this way."