[Adib] How do you see Egypt after the 25 January Revolution?
[Al-Zawahiri] I believe that the misfortune has been removed with the demise of the regime which terrorized the people in everything big or small, even though we do not support the secular orientation of the Revolution while still supporting the revolution itself. The Islamists hope to be granted some freedom in order to promote their genuine ideology. Yet some secular people are "riding the wave". The Revolution has an Islamic tributary which cannot be ignored and which is demanding the application of Shari'a.
[Adib] What are your observations on the initiative to stop violence?
[Al-Zawahiri] These are observations based on religion. We do not put our hands in the hands of the secular regime. Those who agreed to the initiatives were salafi Muslim Brothers and Jihad members. We all converge in the same tributary, for we are all the sons of the same Islamic movement. We might differ in direction but we do not differ on the objective. We keep our reservations [confined] among us.
[Adib] How many people who are convinced of your ideologies remain inside prison?
[Al-Zawahiri] Many. The salafi jihadist ideology is the predominant [group] in prisons and the dungeons are filled now with its advocates. There are some who may renounce some of their concepts and beliefs under pressure. But let me tell you that there are entire prisons that reject the initiatives.
[Adib] Which prisons?
[Al-Zawahiri] The Al-Istiqbal [reception] prison and the prisons of the New Valley, Abu-Za'bal and Al-Naturn Valley. Our objective and guideline in all this are religious. We try to remove the ungodly, arrogant regime and we reject that a secular regime should be the alternative because we reject it as well. Our guidance is taken from Allah's Shari'a and nothing else.
[Adib] Where is Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri?
[Al-Zawahiri] No one knows his location. We can only pray for him to remain firm and that Allah would protect, guide, and support him because if the United States finds a thread that leads to him it will not leave him.
[Adib] Many believe that what Al-Zawahiri and Al-Qa'ida do is terrorism. What is your opinion?
[Al-Zawahiri] The West is trying to tarnish our image because it regards us from the perspective of an enemy. They entered and occupied our countries, so it is natural that they should describe us as terrorists. This is not to mention their violation of honor [Arabic word 'ard' used which is taken as a reference to women]. What we are living today is called the jihad of repulsion. All Muslims must repel this harm. We are ordered to terrorize the enemies of Allah who violate honor. The decision by Al-Qa'ida to carry out operations inside the United States came after the United States started its war against the Muslims. We only wanted to repel its harm from us.
[Adib] Do Al-Qa'ida's ideologies have an existence in Egypt? What is the number of those who adopt such ideologies?
[Al-Zawahiri] These ideologies exist in the entire world and not Egypt alone. I do not know the numbers of those who adopt them in Egypt. Salafi jihadist concepts are sweeping the entire world. They are defending the sanctities and honor of the Muslims as well as their lands.
[Adib] But there are Islamists who advocate a middle-of-the-road approach which is detached from violence?
[Al-Zawahiri] We respect this ideology. There have been varying opinions in the history of Islamic movements. All serve Islam, but at the same time we do not accept being attacked by any one because we do not attack any one. All of them [Islamic movements] join in the road of advocacy for Allah.
[Adib] With whom would you work if you are released?
[Al-Zawahiri] They are all my brothers.
[Adib] But you have a theological position that might perhaps prevent you from working with those who responded to the initiative to stop violence?
[Al-Zawahiri] We are as one, for there are those who pursue advocacy and those who pursue jihad.
[Adib] But you are with those who pursue jihad?
[Al-Zawahiri] Allah knows best. I believe that jihad when warranted is a religious duty upon the Muslims, as Allah the Almighty has ordered. One of the shari [religiously-endorsed] aspects is confronting the United States which aggresses on the homes of the Muslims as you see. I mean jihad in all its forms that Allah the Almighty orders us to wage.
[Adib] How do you live in prison?
[Al-Zawahiri] The security bodies tried to pressure me into changing my religious concepts and opinions. But thank Allah we were patient.
[Adib] What were the points the security bodies tried to bargain with you about?
[Al-Zawahiri] Many things, but they did not deny me medicine. The physicians said it was necessary to make a CT scan for me and analyses because there was a suspected tumor which required follow-up. An SSI officer told me: You are Ayman al-Zawahiri's brother and this means you will not be released.
[Adib] What did the security bodies want from you specifically?
[Al-Zawahiri] To cooperate with them in supplying information and the like. This was the reason they also refused to allow me to visit my sick mother or attend her funeral and condolences. Family visits are naturally denied for me.
[Adib] What was the objective of the security bodies in doing this?
[Al-Zawahiri] To make me give up my personal ideas and views as well as my opinions on religion, so that those officers may say that they actually managed to change the thinking of those extremists. I remember that when Dr Sayid Imam's initiative was announced, I was taken to the SSI headquarters in violation of prison regulations. They warned me there of commenting on it and tortured me by electrocution in sensitive areas.
[Adib] Do you believe that every Islamic current should have a military wing?
[Al-Zawahiri] We act as Allah orders us to do. He orders us to promote religious advocacy and we do so. He orders us to learn and we learn. He orders us to promote goodness and fight sin and we do so. He orders us to wage jihad and we wage jihad. If we cannot [wage jihad] we still [are required to] say that jihad is a duty.
[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Misri al-Yawm in Arabic Respected independent pro-reform daily focusing on domestic political issues; largest-circulation independent publication, especially widely read among youth.]
Egypt: Islamic Group To Elect New Leadership; Group Issues Statement
GMP20110319825006 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 19 Mar 11
[Report from Cairo by Ahmad Rahim: Tariq al-Zumar Tells Al-Hayah a New Leadership for the Islamic Group Will Be Elected This Week]
Tariq al-Zumar, member of the Shura [consultative] Council of the Islamic Group, said that it has been decided to hold a general congress of the group this week to elect a shura council, an executive council, and president of the council. He noted: "The holding of a general congress will resolve all crises (within the group), if there are any."
Al-Zumar told Al-Hayah: "A new leadership must be elected." He said there are attempts to achieve reconciliation among the group's leading figures following the shura council's decision to dismiss leading figure Safwat Abd-al-Ghani and suspend Isam Darbalah's membership of the council because "they called for a return to the thought that existed before the initiative [of the group to give up violence]", according to a statement issued by the group's shura council.
However, Al-Zumar asserted that he has not seen such a decision and said that Darbalah and Abd-al-Ghani are among the group's most acceptable and popular leaders and that they are convinced most of the initiative and the need to halt armed action.
Al-Zumar said this decision is illegitimate and expressed doubt that it was taken by the group's shura council.
He affirmed that there are contacts under way to convene a general congress of the group to elect a new leadership. He said: "The situation has changed. We live in a climate of revolution that requires restructuring of the group because it is impossible for the group to continue with its old structure and a new leadership must be elected."
He added: "This is the practical application of the initiative. After this initiative, we cannot accept the continuation of the figures who led the group according to the principle of 'you must hear and obey.' This method was good for clandestine action. Now, however, we must open up to the generation of youths and give them an opportunity to be promoted and to participate in the decision-making process inside the group."
Al-Zumar explained that what was proposed years ago was to restructure the group when the circumstances allow, "in other words, when the [state's] security agencies collapse, which is what happened."
Disagreements erupted within the Islamic Group a few days after the release of Islamists Abbud and Tariq al-Zumar. The group's shura council accused some of its leading figures of revoking the initiative to halt violence. Under this initiative, the tracking down of the group's leaders and members was halted in exchange for them laying down their arms after years of conflict with the state.
Earlier, the Islamic Group's shura council decided to dismiss leading figure Safwat Abd-al-Ghani and to suspend the membership of Shaykh Isam Darbalah.
A statement issued by the council said: "It has been proven through exclusive evidence that a few members of the group sought to return to the pre-initiative thought and tried to persuade others to embrace the thought that existed before the initiative by meeting with a number of the brothers and urging them to abandon the initiative."
The statement added: "Shaykh Abbud al-Zumar made many statements contradicting the thought of the initiative. These views do not represent the group. They mainly represent their authors, with our personal appreciation to them. The Islamic Group is not responsible for any person who proposes a thought contradicting the thought of the initiative."
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com]
GMP20110318117008 Shumukh al-Islam Network in Arabic 18 Mar 11
[Statement attributed to the London-based Al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, dated 17 March: "Names of the released detainees from the Al-Aqrab, Al-Istiqbal, Al-Wadi, and Burj al-Arab Prisons" -- "Murasil Markaz al-Maqrizi," user number 8344, posted the statement.]
Statement No 25 for the Year 1432 Corresponding o 2011
Names of the released detainees from the Al-Aqrab, Al-Istiqbal, Al-Wadi, and Burj al-Arab Prisons:
God saved Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri from the edge of death
By: Dr Hani al-Siba'i
Director of the Al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies
The Al-Maqrizi Center publishes the names of the detainees, who were released Thursday, 12 Rabi al-Thani 1432, corresponding to 17 March 2011. The most famous name of the detainees was Engineer Muhammad al-Zawahiri, who was expecting the implementation of the death sentence issued on 18 April 1999 against him by the Military Court in the case of "the Returnees from Albania."
Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri is the brother of Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was accused in the greater Al-Jihad Case numbered 462 in 1981. He was tried in absentia but in 1997, he was abducted from the United Arab Emirates. He is known to be one of the strongest opponents of the retractions of Sayyid Imam and the Jama'ah al-Islamiyah [Islamic Group], which were prepared under the supervision and planning of the dissolved State Security Investigations. May God make him firm and turn his release into one of a miracle and an example to those who retreated from the truth.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahiri was released after God had saved him from the edge of death by His grace from a direction he did not perceive although he was the most optimistic among others.
Among the names of the most famous people who were firm on the truth was Engineer Shaykh Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman al-Sharqawi, aka Abd-al-Rahman al-Ilictroni [The Electronic]. He was departed from Pakistan in 1995 although he has a Pakistani citizenship and married to a Pakistan woman. He was supposed to be freed years ago; however, because he refused the retractions of the State Security, they exiled him to the Al-Wadi al-Jadid Prison. He was released only today, by the grace of God.
In a telephone call with Shaykh Yahya Khalaf, he confirmed the news and told us the names of the released detainees as follows:
First: Names of those who were released from the Al-Aqrab Prison in Turah area:
1- Engineer Shaykh Muhammad Rabi al-Zawahiri
2- Muhammad Mahmud Husayn al-Sayyid
Second: Names of those who were released from the Al-Wadi al-Jadid Prison:
1- Muhammad Abd-al-Hamid Abd-al-Hadi
2- Mustafa Abd-al-Zahir Ibrahim
3- Isam Yusri Muhammad
4- Badr-al-Din Nasr Hamid Abbas
5- Faraj Hammad Musa Hammad (Palestinian)
Fourth: Names of those who were released from the reception prison in Turah:
22- Hudhayfah Majdi Kamal -- Son of Shaykh Majdi Kamal, also known in Bani-Suwayf as Abu-Hudhayfah
23- Ahmad Mahmud Abd-al-Hamid Mahmud
24- Mahmud Abd-al-Hamid Mahmud Muhammad
25- Marwan Muhammad Salim Hilmi
26- Ahmad Samir Sa'd Ramadan
27- Muhammad Karim Ali al-Dib
28- Fadi Muhammad Mamduh
Based on the abovementioned, the Al-Maqrizi Center praised God for the release of those wronged youth and elderly people. We ask God to compensate them for the imprisonment, torture, and unjust rulings and reward them well in the Day of Resurrection.
The center also emphasizes that there are a lot of the wronged sons of the Islamic movement, who are kept in the darkness of the Egyptian prisons. The list of those prisoners include Shaykh Nabil al-Maghribi, who is almost 70 years old, Shaykh Ahmad Salamah, Shaykh Adil Awad Shihtu, Shaykh Ahmad Ash'ush, Shaykh Murjan Salim, and others.
Therefore, we demand the release of all the wronged people from the Egyptian prisons to honor them and compensate them and their families for each day they spent in the darkness of the prisons of the ousted tyrant.
Al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies
12 Rabi al-Thani 1432
17 March 2011
[A link to the center's website is provided here.]
[To view the vernacular, click here.]
[Description of Source: 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]
Disagreements in Leadership of Egypts Islamic Group Reported
GMP20110318825003 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 18 Mar 11
[Article by Ahmad Rahim: "Egypt: Disagreements in Leadership of Islamic Group, Exchange of Accusations of Revoking Initiative Renouncing Violence"]
Sharp disagreements have crept into the Islamic Group (al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah) only a few days after the release of the Islamists Abbud and Tariq al-Zumar. The group's Shura Council has accused some of its leaders of revoking the violence-halting initiative by virtue of which prosecutions of group leaders and members were halted in return for the group's abandonment of arms after years of conflict with the state. However, a leader who was removed from the group denied to Al-Hayat that this was the case. "The affair," he said, "is nothing but an attempt to wrest control of the group."
The group's Shura Council decided yesterday to dismiss the leader Safwat Abd-al-Ghani and suspend the membership of Shaykh Isam Darbalah.
A council statement said that when the group "issued its well-known initiative to halt violence, it consecrated its return to Islam's centrality and realism, and thus irrevocably abandoned violence in thought and in deed." The statement added: "We now have conclusive evidence that a few in the group have endeavored to return to pre-initiative thinking and have tried to shift the thinking of others to a pre-initiative phase by holding meetings with a number of brothers and inciting them to abandon the thinking of the initiative. We have therefore decided the following: to dismiss Brother Safwat Abd-al-Ghani from the Islamic Group, as well as everyone proven to have returned to the pre-initiative thinking, and to suspend Shaykh Isam Darbalah from membership in the Shura Council of the Islamic Group pending investigation."
The statement indicated: "Shaykh Abbud al-Zumar has made many statements in recent days contradicting the ideas of the initiative. These opinions do not represent the Islamic Group; they primarily represent their authors. Although we respect them personally, the Islamic Group is not responsible for anyone who proposes ideas at variance with the thinking of the initiative."
The group advised "the loyal sons of the Islamic Group not to break the promises that they had made to God." The Shura Council has formed a committee of mid-level leaders to implement such policies for the period as the council shall lay down in coming days and to prepare for free and honest elections in the coming period from base to summit. It stressed that "the initiative was not a deal with a regime. It did not revolve around a government, but around the religious law of Islam. It was a commerce with God first and last." The Islamic Group "will adhere to its promise, first to God and then to the society. It will continue to hold to all peaceful means of calling to Islam by ideas and behavior, and will complete its course of guiding mankind and reforming society."
For his part, the dismissed leader Safwat Abd-al-Ghani told Al-Hayat that the Shura Council's statement was completely invalid and devoid of any legitimacy, "because it was issued without making any investigation. Only four council members made the decision, which means that the legal quorum was not present, and so the decision was invalid. The decision-maker cannot be a party to the argument and an arbiter at the same time."
He added: "The dispute concerns restructuring. We want the group's leadership to be chosen by free, direct election. We reject domination of it. There are voices that reject this attitude despite their weak justifications and that insist on managing affairs as is. They reject institutions -- hence the argument." Abd-al-Ghani said: "We were never against the initiative. We are supporters of it and even stronger than they in the direction of peace.... They have not revealed the truth about the disagreement. They want to make people afraid of us. However, we affirm that we are more committed than they to the thinking and path of the initiative." He considered that the decision "is nothing but an attempt to block any restructuring of the group." He explained that he and the group supporting restructuring would call for a plenary session to define who is responsible for managing the group's affairs.
Dr Najih Ibrahim, the Islamic Group's theoretician and number-two man, replied that there was a group within the group that wanted "to replace the thinking of the initiative, but we reject this." He asked: "Shall we return to non-peaceful thinking, given the new young people and the security breakdown? What will be the result?" He said to Al-Hayat: "They say, 'We want the old thinking along with no use of weapons.' However, this thinking, given the new generation and under the current circumstances, will certainly spark violence. Hard-line thinking will generate hard-line behavior."
He explained that Safwat Abd-al-Ghani had not merely engaged in talk; he had contacted supporters, brought them together, and told them that the initiative had been a phase that had fallen with the fall of the regime. Ibrahim added: "The group did not conclude the initiative with the regime, so that it should fall with the fall of the regime. It was a promise to God first and an obligation toward the society.... Their view is different. It isn't possible for you to espouse hard-line thinking without generating violence."
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com]
Report: Salafis Coming Hard, Fast to Egyptian Politics, But Not United
GMP20110322013002 Cairo Al-Ahram in Arabic 22 Mar 11 p 10
[Article by Dr Wahid Abd-al-Majid: "Salafis and Politics: From Reluctance to Competition"]
Salafi individuals and groups are looking for a role in the new political landscape being shaped now, after the 25 January Revolution opened the door to major transformations; most importantly their entry into the world of politics that they had been eager to stay away from.
Therefore, it seems interesting today that many of Salafis are calling for participation in elections and parliament, competing against political parties and forces, and representing a major challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood. The decision made by the shura council of Ansar al-Sunnah [Supporters of Prophet Muhammad's traditions and sayings] on March 11 was a turning point in this direction. The decision affirmed that (there is no religious objection to participate in the elections of the People's Assembly and Shura Council because they are means of empowering and spreading Islamic call among all sections of the community). When the members of this council include some of the most well-known Salafi clerics, such as Shaykh Muhammad Hassan and Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Ya'kub, then this transformation must entail proof that the phase of reviewing doctrines has been exceeded to reach the political arena.
The followers of these two shaykhs throughout the country are probably not fewer than the members of all existing political parties combined. The Ansar al-Sunnah group dates back to 1926. It is the second largest Salafi group after Al-Jam'iyah al-Shar'iyah [the Shari'ah Association], which was founded in 1912. Although the latter never became directly involved in politics, it began to organize public conferences on March 12 under the title (the return of faith and stability to the Egyptian street for a better tomorrow). This Association controls more than 3,000 mosques in all Egyptian governorates, and sponsors a huge number of social projects that help the poor, which means that it would be a huge electoral force, if it decided to participate in elections directly or indirectly.
Perhaps this is it what Abbud al-Zumur, who has just been released from prison after serving a 30-year sentence for his role in the assassination of Al-Sadat and the Jihad Organization, is betting on when he announces that he wants to form a political party or coalition that includes his organization, the Islamic Group and the Salafi groups.