However, the Salafis may not need his leadership, not to mention the difficulty of uniting them under one coalition. Talking about Salafis without distinguishing between them would be an attempt to downplay a huge and complex phenomenon, which includes diverse trends, groups and symbols with different stances. Some members reject any criticism of the leader [of the country], while others have taken up arms against him. The Jihad Organization and the Islamic Group are violent extensions of Salafism, which these groups have turned into Jihadist Salafism.
Although the vast majority of Salafis have never practiced or even come close to politics, they have made a profound impact on Egyptian society in recent decades. Their activities were the main reason behind the spread of common Islamic manifestations and rituals. They operate in the heart of society and influence it more than anybody else. Therefore, it was a mistake to view them as Muslim scholars specializing in the jurisprudence of menstruation and puerperium, or imagine that Salafis are an enclosed sea whose water is stagnated in comparison with the high waves crashing in the Muslim Brotherhood's sea. The truth is that these waves have affected them to one degree or another, and created a debate that began more than a decade ago and covered the issue of politics and political work; especially after the attempt by a number of members, who belonged to the Jihad movement in their youth, to establish political parties.
This initiative was made by a bright and well-read Salafi thinker called Jamal Sultan, who thought of establishing the Reform Party, and enlightened lawyer Mamduh Isma'il, who thought of establishing Al-Shari'ah [Islamic Law] Party and wrote a political program for it in 1999. A few years later, well-known lawyer and writer Muntasir al-Zayyat moved in the same direction when he tried to found the Union for Freedom Party in 2007.
Salafi elders moved in a different direction, but not too far away. Shaykh Sa'id Abd-al-Azim, a Salafi symbol in the movement's current stronghold (Alexandria) in Egypt, launched an initiative to reform society in 2005 called (the Salafi initiative for reform). Although he rejected democracy under the pretext that it contradicts the Quran and Sunnah, and asked voters to boycott elections, his initiative was part of the movement that also included the beginning of the controversy about participation in elections, and calls by other Salafi leaders, such as Yasir Burhami in Alexandria as well, to show flexibility in this regard. Moreover, the shift in the position of Salafi groups towards participation in elections in some Arab countries like Kuwait and Bahrain, where the Salafi movement has become one of the most powerful voting blocs, has affected some Salafis in Egypt.
This was not just a shift in practice because it was accompanied by new interpretations unprecedented in the history of Salafism, especially the works of Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman Abd-al-Khaliq in Kuwait (such as Muslims and Political Action) and (Shura under the Islamic System of Governance).
However, the prevailing atmosphere among Salafis in Egypt has not allowed any real discussion of such interpretations, which are likely to have a greater impact on their attitudes and actions in the near future. They are coming hard and fast to the political arena, but they will not be united. It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to unite them in one bloc. Some of them may respond positively to Abbud al-Zumur's call. Or, the parties formed by Sultan, Isma'il, Al-Zayat might have much greater opportunities in the coming period , not to mention other projects that will emerge and the large existing entities, foremost among which are the Shari'ah Association, Ansar al-Sunnah, and the shaykhs and preachers who work independently.
The presence of the Salafis will be a challenge to the old political parties, which will fight for survival, and the new ones that will emerge in the coming days, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and justice Party, which will face competition from newcomers in a way that could reshape relations between various players in the political arena, which is being shaped now.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Ahram in Arabic -- State-controlled daily newspaper of record, reportedly Egypt's highest circulation daily; Al-Ahram controls the distribution of all other newspapers, state-run and opposition alike.]
Highlights: Forum Participants on Release of Jihadist Prisoners in Egypt
GMP20110323836007 Jihadist Websites -- OSC Summary in Arabic 16 Mar 11 - 22 Mar 11
From 16-22 March, forum participants on various jihadist websites posted their reactions to Egyptian authorities' release of Jihad Organization and Islamic Group prisoners, including Muhammad al-Zawahiri, brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Many rejoiced at the release of Muhammad al-Zawahiri, while others discussed past renunciation of violent jihad on the party of Egyptian jihadist leaders like Abbud al-Zumar.
Shumukh al-Islam Network
Shumukh al-Islam Network in Arabic -- Salafi-jihadist, pro-Iraqi insurgency web forum with a focus on global jihad; established in April 2007; served as official online dissemination point for Al-Qa'ida and affiliate messaging since late 2008; URL: www.shamikh1.net/vb
-- In a message titled "Here We Congratulate Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri and His Brothers, and Receive Congratulations for the Release of the Steadfast (Chaim Yaakov)," a forum participant expressed his "joy, pleasure, and jubilance" at the release of Ayman al-Zawahiri's brother Muhammad in Egypt. He congratulated "our virtuous shaykhs, the shaykhs and leaders of jihad" on the news. (by "Hammam Bin-Abd-al-Rahman," user number 2970; Thread 99782) This message generated the following responses:
"We ask God to give the shaykh and all his brothers steadfastness after a life of prison and detention, for there are many different forms of discord, and the brothers will come under intense pressure in an attempt to affect their creed and their resolve to continue on in support of the religion of God." (by "Mutabassir," user number 6639; Thread 99782)
"Congratulations to you, Shaykh Al-Zawahiri, and to all the leaders of jihad all over the world. We await your brigades in Egypt." (by "Al-Muhajir al-Kinani," user number 9400; Thread 99782)
-- In a message titled "Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri in the Streets of Cairo," which was later removed from the website, a forum participant asked "What is the difference between the brothers Abbud al-Zumar, Tariq al-Zumar and Shaykh Karam Zuhdi, and Ayman al-Zawahiri?" He asked "Would it not be better for...Ayman al-Zawahiri to return to his country...to practice his jihad, in the broader sense, from Egypt?" He continued, saying that Al-Zawahiri, "like all other Egyptians" enjoys the rights of "so-called 'democracy, opinion, and freedom.'" Noting that he was a member of the Jihad Organization whose "leaders are leaving prison," the author asked why Al-Zawahiri is forbidden to "return to Egypt to exercise his freedom in any way?" He asked "What is the difference between the venerable shaykh and the leaders of the Jihad [Organization] who are being released?...Can the shaykh return to Egypt after modifying his tone to please God and for the good of jihad and the mujahidin?" (by "Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi," user number 12437; Thread 99816) This message generated the following responses:
"Could you clarify for us how the shaykh is modifying his tone to please God and for the good of jihad and the mujahidin?" (by "shahed," user number 10950; Thread 99816)
"What I mean, my good brother, is that the esteemed leaders of the Jihad Organization and the Islamic Group [Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah] have left [prison] and are among the people, exercising their freedom. Can that not be applied to Shaykh Ayman, with him returning to the Land of the Quiver [Egypt], if he alters his tone, meaning his style, while preserving his principles?" (by "Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi," user number 12437; Thread 99816)
-- In a message titled "Great News From Egypt: Islamic Group Leaders Call for a Return to Jihadist Thinking, and the Group Dismisses Some Members," a forum participant posted a link to a statement attributed to the Shura Council of the Islamic Group that said "Today we have definitive evidence that a small minority in the group is seeking a return to pre-initiative [refers to the group's renunciation of violent jihad] thinking, attempting to convert the thinking of others, through meetings held with a number of brothers, to the pre-initiative phase, and urging them to abandon the initiative." (by "Adu al-Nifaq," user number 7615; Thread 99780) This message generated the following response:
"We must now disseminate the canon and literature of jihadist thought and the papers and treatises of the leaders and ideologues of jihad, especially those that address this matter and respond to the initiative, like Exoneration [by Ayman al-Zawahiri]." (by "Al-Muhajir al-Kinani," user number 9400; Thread 99780)
-- In a message titled "Urgent: Important and Urgent Statement from the Islamic Group," a forum participant posted the same Islamic Group Shura Council statement. (by "Abir Sabil," user number 11867; Thread 99718) This message generated the following responses:
"After Shaykh Abbud al-Zumar came out with his arguments, powerful style, and responses, and silenced the secularists, some degenerate Islamic Group members came out to us in order to save face and out of shame before the sons of the Islamic Group, who witnessed some of their leaders' disgrace, ignominy, hypocrisy for the secularists, and blatant lies in some of their responses, having once thought that this was a cover in-line with legitimate policy. Truth be told, the responses of Shaykh Abbud were hundreds of times more powerful than those of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamic Group leaders, and those who watched the interview with Shaykh Abbud know this." (by "Abir Sabil," user number 11867; Thread 99718)
"We preformed the funeral prayer for the Islamic Group ages ago." (by "Abd-al-Salam," user number 12878; Thread 99718)
"Why are you posting a thread like this? First of all, Shaykh Abbud did not silence anyone. Rather, all the TV journalists gave him a tongue-lashing. Also, his thought is deviant. As for the return of the Islamic Group, it will never be what it was, even if it did come back. I wish the administration would step up its monitoring of postings so that no one gets misinformed." (by "Miqdad al-Masri," user number 7144; Thread 99718)
-- In a message titled "O People of Egypt: You Came out by the Millions to Demand Democracy, so How Many of You Will Come out To Free Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri From the Claws of the Enemies of the Lord of all Mankind?" a forum participant responded to reports of Muhammad al-Zawahiri being rearrested, asking "what are you doing?" Addressing Egyptians, he said "The collaborator Egyptian regime delivered a strong slap to your face when it arrested Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri." The author then called on Egyptians to "march to the palaces, citadels, and offices of apostasy, whether they belong to the state security or army, and give them a three-day deadline to release all monotheist detainees." (by "Rub'a Bin-Amir Bin-Khalid," user number 13688; Thread 100586) This message generated no responses.
Al-Jazirah Talk in Arabic
Doha Al-Jazirah Talk in Arabic -- Independent news website and discussion forum geared toward Arab youth that features contributions by Al-Jazirah TV anchors; it is not formally affiliated with the Al-Jazirah Network; URL: http://www.aljazeeratalk.net/por
-- A forum participant posted a message titled "Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri in the Streets of Cairo," the same message posted to the Shumukh al-Islam Network by "Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi," user number 12437. (by "Imam al-Jihad," user number 19354; Thread 323510) This message generated the following responses:
"What do you mean, my brother, by his abandoning some matters?" (by "Al-Muqassir," user number 85498; Thread 323510)
"I mean, my brother, changing his religious tone, as did the leaders of jihad who have been released. In other words, he changes his style and upholds his principles. God bless you." (by "Imam al-Jihad," user number 19354; Thread 323510)
Ana al-Muslim Network
Ana al-Muslim Network in Arabic -- Largest, most doctrinally diverse jihadist website in online jihadist environment; features vocal minority of participants who occasionally argue against Al-Qa'ida and terrorism in general; online in its current format since at least 1996 and possesses a more moderate tone than other sites of comparable importance; URL: www.muslm.net/vb
-- In a message titled "Abbud al-Zumar Teaches Al-Zawahiri a Lesson He Will Not Forget," a forum participant said that Abbud al-Zumar "told the entire world" that he still "rejects the use of violence in the name of jihad, that he supports the constitutional amendments, and that the men of the army hold a special place in his eyes." The author then asked if Ayman al-Zawahiri would "learn from Abbud al-Zumar," especially since he was "the military leader of Egyptian Jihad Organization, to which Al-Zawahiri belongs." (by "Hisham al-Bakri," user number 83282; Thread 428020) This message generated the following response:
"Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri does not harbor hostility toward Shaykh Abbud. Shaykh Abbud (may God protect him) is talking about balances of power and conditions on the ground. May God bless you and support the mujahidin." (by "Akrah al-Nifaq," user number 111500; Thread 428020)
Ansar Dawlat al-Iraq al-Islamiyah
Ansar Dawlat al-Iraq al-Islamiyah in Arabic -- A minor Salafi-jihadist forum that re-posts Al-Qa'ida and affiliate media productions; first observed online in June 2010, the site features productions and discussion focused on the Al-Qa'ida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, as well as global jihad in general; URL: www.ansar-dawlat-aliraq-alislamiyah.net/vb
-- In a message titled "Names of the Brothers Who Have Been Released, and Where Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri Is," a forum participant listed the following names, saying that they had been released from prison: "Shaykh Abu-Ahmad al-Masri, Shaykh Abu-al-Bara al-Andalusi, Shaykh Abu-Ayyub al-Ansari, the brother Al-Mu'min Billah, the brother Al-Abadilah, and the brother Al-Faruq Umar." "Shaykh Abu-Hajir al-Libi and the brother Al-Zubayr al-Masri," he said are still in prison. (by "azam," user number 231; Thread 8716) This message generated no significant responses.
Egypt: Freed Islamists Abbud, Tariq al-Zumur on Al-Sadat Assassination, Mubarak
GMP20110320693001 Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic 1405 GMT 20 Mar 11
Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic -- Saudi-funded pan-Arab satellite news channel, with a special focus on Saudi Arabia -- at 1405 GMT on 20 March carries a new recorded episode of its weekly "Special Encounter" talk show program. Moderator Randa Abu-al-Azm interviews Shaykh Abbud al-Zumur and his brother Dr Tariq al-Zumur, leading figures in the Egyptian Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah [the Islamic Group], who spent 30 years in prison on charges of complicity in the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, at their Cairo residence places.
Abu-al-Azm beings by saying that as a result of the assassination of Al-Sadat, emergency laws were imposed and former President Mubarak took power.
In response, Abbud says "this is true in principle. The assassination brought Mubarak to power, the country faced a very serious political crisis, and the entire society was put in a large prison." In the era of Al-Sadat, he says, "there was a serious political tension and deadlock, with Al-Sadat placing himself above the law and cracking down on the opposition forces." Therefore, "it was necessary to topple him," he says, adding that "I was tasked with drawing up a plan not to kill him but to topple him." Although they knew that "we were not bloodsuckers or advocates of killing," he says "former pro-regime circles, nevertheless, spread rumors to taint our image as an Islamist organization."
Asked if the plan did not include the assassination of Al-Sadat, Abbud says "the original plan was only aimed at toppling the regime and establishing a new one in its place." Our primary goal, he says, "was to take control of the main institutions, arrest the president, and stir a large-scale popular uprising."
Asked whether he disapproved the assassination, Abbud says "we just wanted to change the regime, which had reached a deadlock in its relations with the Arabs as a result of its peace treaty [with Israel] Consequently, he says, "Egypt was isolated on the local, international, and Islamic levels, became an object of hatred, and was completely distanced from the Arab-Israeli conflict under the said treaty."
Asked about his role in the assassination, Abbud says "when the proposal was made, I called for an alternative plan to arrest the leaders and then reveal our vision of the new regime based on the Islamic point of view." But certain events, he says, "led to confrontation, with Khalid al-Islambuli and his colleagues drawing up a plan for the assassination." He says "we could not influence Al-Islambuli's decision," adding that "it was those who had carried out the assassination, even though some said that foreign parties were involved in the plan." Following the assassination, he says, "we were arrested and sentenced to prison terms on charges of backing the plan."
Asked whether he views the assassins as martyrs, Abbud says "yes, I do because the situation had reached a deadlock and there was no solution."
Asked if he views Al-Sadat as a martyr, Abbud says "Al-Sadat harmed his people by signing the peace treaty and committing violations."
Asked whether Al-Sadat deserved to be killed because of the peace treaty, Abbud says "he should have been ousted and the regime changed, but the problem was that there was no mechanism for change."
Asked whether he holds the rulers, who do not apply the Islamic Law, unbelievers, Abbud says "this concept is inherent in the Islamic Law, but that sometimes it cannot be applied under certain circumstances."
Asked whether Al-Sadat deserved to be killed, Abbud says "I was not in a position to make such a judgment," adding that "it is a team of Muslim scholars that can made such a judgment."
Abu-al-Azm says that in our interview with him in 2006, Shaykh Karam Zuhdi, [former Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah Shura Council speaker], said "the killing of rulers was not a good deed."
Abbud says "it is the assassins that should apologize, even though we took part in the plan based on fatwas they had issued," adding tha t "the political deadlock and the absence of a mechanism for change prompted some young people to carry out the plan." As a result of the incident, he says, "Husni Mubarak took power, an arrest campaign was launched, and emergency laws were imposed on the country."
Abu-al-Azm notes that Umar Tahir wrote an article in the Al-Masri daily urging Abbud to apologize for the killing of an Egyptian citizen.
Abbud says that "compared to Al-Sadat's era, a new mechanism has now emerged in the country and a change can be made through peaceful demonstrations."
Asked if he intends to name himself candidate for speaker of the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah Shura Council as an alternative to the group's traditional leaders, such as Karam Zuhdi, who were accused of loyalty to the former regime, Abbud says "those people are very good, even though they kept silent over certain violations by the former regime."
Asked if he wants to name himself candidate for that job, Abbud says "of course, not even though I named myself candidate for the job last time in order to offer a moderate political vision and program acceptable to people and to expose the Mubarak regime and its violations." The Mubarak regime, he says, "has left behind a scorched land, sectarian problems, factional woes, and corruption."
Asked whether he supports Sharaf as prime minister, Abbud says "Yes, I do to help him play his role."
Asked how he views Amr Musa and ElBaradei as candidates for president, Abbud says "I am not inclined to back either."
Asked if he is planning to form a Salafi political party, Abbud says "I call for that but cannot engage in a party because of my poor health."
Abu-al-Azm says the Muslim Brotherhood group is more organized and enjoys more popular support than the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah.
Abbud says "the Muslim Brotherhood is a well-organized group and we maintain close ties with it," adding that "the diversity in the ranks of the Islamists gives people the impression that Islam is not monopolized by a specific group." He says "the Muslim Brotherhood group is a moderate organization and we are going to adopt moderate policies at the coming stage."
Asked if he still wants to apply the Islamic law, including the amputation of thieves' hands, flogging adulterers, and imposing head tax on Coptic Christians making up 10 percent of the people, Abbud says "the Copts share us everything, defend the country, and fought side by side with us in the 1973 war." Admitting that "it is impossible for us to impose head tax on Copts," he says "the application of the Islamic Law, including amputation of hand, however, will protect the society as well as Copts' rights as a minority."
Asked if he sees any model of Islamic system of governance in the region that can be applied in Egypt, Abbud says "every country has its own circumstances." For example, he says, "Turkey has its own system, HAMAS has established a state on part of an occupied country, and Iran is a Shiite country."
Asked how he views the Taliban system of governance, Abbud says "the Taliban system is based on a tribal system."
Asked whether the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah has any communication with the new generation of young people, Abbud says "we are following up on this issue closely and have a clear vision of how it can be done."
Asked if his group will accept a woman as president or judge, Abbud says "we have no problem with this issue."
Asked if he has any link to Al-Qa'ida's Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has not said anything since the 25 January revolution, Abbud says "Al-Zawahiri, an excellent, pious person, stayed with me for three years." He says "we advised him not to strike any target in the Arab countries and to launch jihad in occupied countries, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq."
Asked how he views the 11 September incidents, Abbud says "I denounced them simply because they harmed peaceful people enjoying freedom under a democratic system of governance," adding t hat "the incidents prompted the United States and the West to take a position hostile to the entire Islamic current."
Asked if he heard anything from Al-Zawahiri during or after the 25 January revolution, Abbud says "I have not heard anything from him for a long time."
Starting the interview with Tariq al-Zumur, Abu-al-Azm asks him about his role in the assassination of Al-Sadat.
Tariq says "the court, which looked into the assassination, sentenced me to 20 years in prison on charges of taking part in the plan to assassinate Al-Sadat." Our organization at that time, he says, "had military and civilian wings and was led by Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman, who was engaged in those events." He says "the seventies of the past century were characterized by a great Islamic awakening at the Egyptian universities, which played a key role in the Islamic call and the cherished change in the society."
Abu-al-Azm says the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah allied itself with the jihad groups to assassinate Al-Sadat, asking how that took place.
Tariq says "the Islamic movement was characterized by vigor during the seventies, and differences among its ranks were so simple that they were patched up easily." He says "at that stage, I played the role of a connecting link between our organization and that of Ayman al-Zawahiri and we began coordination between the two organizations." Suddenly, he says, "I found myself engaged in the activity of a third jihad organization led by Kamal Habib." That coalition "had a role to play ahead of the assassination, even though it was not strong," he says, adding that "the three organizations united into what was called the Jihad Organization."