The Egyptian Foreign Ministry declared it had intensified contacts with all parties concerned over the abduction of Ihab El Sherif, the head of Egypt's diplomatic mission in Iraq. At least three days after the kidnapping, no group has claimed responsibility.
Al-Sherif, aged 51, arrived in Baghdad on June 1 and was expected to become Iraq's first Arab ambassador since its new government took office. In mid-June, the Egyptian government stated it would upgrade relations with Iraq to full embassy status.
Born in January 1954, Al-Sherif holds a doctorate in political science from the Sorbonne University in Paris, and also has a younger daughter Heidi who is still at primary school.
He is well versed in Islamic militancy, having written his doctoral thesis on political Islam. He has also published works on India, France and Germany.
Al-Sherif had previously served as aide for Arab affairs to Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and had postings to Damascus, Paris and Tel Aviv.
In October 2000 following the outbreak of the Palestinian Al Aqsa uprising, Al-Sherif took over duties of the Egyptian envoy to Tel Aviv after the latter was recalled to Cairo. Al-Sherif was later succeeded by Charge d'Affaires Tarek Mahmoud el-Kouny.
On this regard, former Egyptian ambassador to Afghanistan, Ahmad El-Ghamrawi offered a unique version to the abduction story. “Iraq has become an open arena for intelligence services and there is a strong possibility that Sherif was kidnapped by a foreign body to pit the Egyptians and the Iraqis against one another,” he told IOL.
He said Sherif’s latest post as Egyptian charges d’affaires in Tel Aviv supported the theory that he might have been abducted by the Israeli intelligence services, Mossad. “Sherif has come to know a lot about Israel,” Ghamrawi was quoted as sayng. “Israel also wants to tarnish the image of the Iraqi resistance in the eyes of the Egyptian people,” he added.