Egypt Arrests Al-Qa'ida Infiltrators Seeking To Revive Activities There

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Abu-al-Azm says "you were accused of providing the bullets that were used in the assassination."

Tariq says "I approved the assassination and provided the bullets."

Asked how Abbud views the assassination, Tariq says "I informed him that a plan was under way to assassinate Al-Sadat," adding that "the original plan was just to stir a popular revolution." At that stage, he says, "the organization was unveiled after the political forces were put on alert." Therefore, "Al-Islambuli was tasked with taking part in the military parade and argued that since the organization was unveiled and its members would be jailed, why we should not get rid of the president." Shaykh Abbud, he says, "objected to the decision," saying that "the goal was not to kill the president but to change the regime." But when Abbud knew that all of the leaders of the organization in Upper and Lower Egypt "had decided to carry out the assassination," he says, "Abbud could not do anything."

Asked where he was during the military parade, Tariq says "we just decided to follow up on the operation on TV screens and then take the necessary measures."

Asked whether some details of the incident have not yet been revealed, Tariq says "its technical dimensions have always been clear, even though some alleged that the US intelligence service got rid of Al-Sadat." He says "the US intelligence suffered a loss as a result of the assassination of Al-Sadat," adding that "most of those who participated in Al-Sadat's funeral were US, Western, and Israeli officials and leaders." The corner stone of the US policy in the region "has been the Camp David accords over the past 40 years," he says, warning that "as a result of those accords, US influence in the Arab region has grown and the US-Israeli project has taken root in the region." Therefore, he says, "the Americans made up for the loss by establishing an oppressive regime to pursue Al-Sadat's policies toward the United States and Israel and keep the Camp David accords in place."

Asked whether his group recognizes the Camp David accords, Tariq wonders "if the accords are sacred or mentioned in the Koran" and says "our objection to the accords does not mean their cancellation."

Asked if his group will cancel the accords if it assumes power in Egypt, Tariq says "at lea st we will say that certain provisions in the accords have not been honored," adding that "the accords are still in favor of Israel."

Asked whether he is ready to apologize to Al-Sadat's daughter for participating in the killing of her father, Tariq says "we have no problem with his family."

Abu-al-Azm says but Al-Sadat's family is sad.

Tariq says "we should focus on the future and the 25 January revolution at this particular time in order to avoid further tensions in the Egyptian society."

Abu-al-Azm says people want to make sure if the group has renounced violence.

Tariq says "we have published a document called the third alternative in which we renounced armed action in the Islamic societies, rejected submission to authoritarian regimes, backed peaceful resistance, and stopped targeting tourists, civilians, or Western societies."

Asked why the former regime released thousands of jihad figures from prison, such as Karam Zuhdi and Najih Ibrahim, and refused to release him and his colleagues, Tariq says "we declare an end to armed action in Egypt as necessary for the release of all the political prisoners." Nevertheless, he says, "the Egyptian security regime tried to force the prisoners to declare their support for it, but that we refused to give it any legitimacy."

Asked if he and his colleagues can be targeted, Tariq says "the defunct Mubarak regime is in a miserable situation, but that some remnants are still tampering with the society's security."

Asked how he views Egypt these days, Tariq says "I am pleased by and take pride in the ouster of Mubarak as a historic event," calling "for investing the current situation to build a new Egypt and eliminate the remnants of the former regime." He also calls "for ending insecurity and sectarian conflict and drafting a new constitution."

Asked if his group supports the constitutional amendments, Tariq says "we support them but call for a new constitution."

[Description of Source: Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic -- Saudi-funded pan-Arab satellite news channel, with a special focus on Saudi Arabia]

Family of US-Jailed Egyptian Islamist Said To Take Legal Action for his Release

GMP20110330825002 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 30 Mar 11

[Report from Cairo by Ahmad Mustafa: The Family of Umar Abd-al-Rahman Takes Legal Action, and the Army Sees No Problem in His Return]

The family of the spiritual leader of the salafi jihadist trend in Egypt, Dr Umar Abd-al-Rahman, who has been detained in the United States for 18 years now, seeks to legally bring up the case of his imprisonment in an attempt to secure a ruling to extradite him to Cairo. Meanwhile, moves began in the circles of the Islamists to urge the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which runs Egypt's affairs, to intervene for his release.

Earlier, Islamists organized several demonstrations, the latest of which was held on Friday, outside the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in the Al-Qubbah District of eastern Cairo calling on the army to intervene for the release of the Al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyah [Islamic Group] leader who is serving a life sentence on the charge of involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Umar Abd-al-Rahman's son, Ammar, said: "The family received a promise from the army to consider how to move in the case and discuss the appropriate legal means to ask Washington to release him."

He added that the family concluded an agreement with an Egyptian lawyer who has offices in the United States "to bring up the case on several tracks, including a challenge to the prison sentence and an attempt to have him extradited to Egypt to serve his sentence in it, if the lawyer cannot secure his release."

Ammar told Al-Hayah that he will leave for Washington within days "to bring up the case at the media and judicial levels after interest in it waned in the past."

He explained: "The defense team will rely on a US law that provides for the extradition of a foreigner who stands trial to the authorities of his country to serve his sentence there. Also, there is another law that calls for the release of a prisoner due to old age if there is no harm releasing him."

Ammar said a delegation, consisting of his mother, his brother Abdallah, the Islamic Group's leading figure Isam Darbalah, and Islamist lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat, met on Friday with Commander of the Military Police Major General Hamdi Badin who is a member of the military council "to discuss details of the detention of the shaykh and ask the general to intervene for his release."

He said Maj Gen Badin asserted to the delegation that the army and government "do not have the slightest problem with the shaykh and consider him one of the preachers of the holy Al-Azhar who are known for their competence and that the shaykh's problem was with the former regime." He added that the army promised to consider asking the United States to extradite Umar Abd-al-Rahman.

Ammar said: "The family received a phone call on Monday from the commander of the military police in which the commander informed the family that the case has been put before the president of the military council, Field Marshal Husayn Tantawi, and that they will be notified of the response within hours."

Ammar said that Islamists will organize a demonstration within days outside the US Embassy compound in the Garden City District of central Cairo "to sound out the US view on the release of the shaykh."

He added: "Restrictions have been imposed on the shaykh since the outbreak of the revolution that brought down the regime of Husni Mubarak." He continued: "It seems that US officials' concern that the Islamists might seize power in Egypt will stand in the way of the release of my father."

Ammar said: "Since 24 January, he [Umar Abd-al-Rahman] has been banned from talking to his family through the mobile telephone and from talking to his guards. Also, he has been denied visits."

He added: "Abd-al-Rahman protested to the prison administration against these restrictions. The US Administration conveyed to his lawyer, Ramsey Clark, its apprehension about Abd-al-Rahman's capabilities because he is able to unite the ranks of the Islamic trends. H owever, this concern is unfounded because the shaykh is blind, uses a wheelchair, and cannot move due to several illnesses."

Ammar noted: "Qatar continues to show readiness to mediate with the US Administration to have him released or to receive him if Cairo refuses."

Earlier, Abd-al-Rahman's family issued a statement in which it called on the military council to "officially intervene fast in the case of our father who supported the initiative to halt violence. He has been isolated from the world, and his dignity has been violated for 18 years."

[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL:]

Egypt: Interview with Leading Islamic Group Figure Safwat Abd-al-Ghani

GMP20110402007002 Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah in Arabic 02 Apr 11 p 5

[Interview with leading Islamic Group figure Safwat Abd-al-Ghani Conducted by Jamal Abd-al-Rahim in Cairo: "Goodbye to Violence. We are Considering the Establishment of a Political Party. We shall not Field a Candidate in the Presidential Elections. Our Relations with the Muslim Brothers are Good"]

Safwat Ahmad Abd-al-Ghani, a member of Egypt's Al-Jama'a al-Islamiyyah [Islamic Group], said in an interview with the State-owned Cairo daily Al-Jumhuriyah published on 02 April that the Group was considering the formation of a political party with other Islamist group and that there was a possibility it would merge with the militant Islamic Jihad organization but without abandoning its announced initiative on renouncing violence.

In the interview with Jamal Abd-al-Rahim, Abd-al-Ghani dissociated the group from acts of violence committed after it announced its non-violence initiative in 1997. He said the subsequent bombings in Sinai and Cairo were "committed by salafi jihadist elements that are not from Jihad or the Islamic Group",

He said the group's relations with the salafi trend in Egypt was "one of love and appreciation, and we all share the objective of serving the country and preserving the nation's [Islamic] identity".

Asked whether it was possible that the salafi current would revive violence, Abd-al-Ghani replied "violence is not in the style of the salafis, and I believe the coming days will witness rapprochement between the Islamic Group and the salafi current ... as for the relationship with Jihad, this is a good relationship and there will be no recurrence of past conflicts between the two. The difference was over the adoption by some Jihad leaders of the concept of takfir [branding as infidel] of the civilian and military establishments. Jihad also relied on the jihadist approach only without pursuing the approach of religious advocacy which the Islamic Group relied upon as a means of spreading awareness in the Egyptian society".

He said he "expects and welcomes" the possibility of merger between the Group and Jihad, as was the case before the 1981 Sadat assassination. He said that the Group also had good relations with the Muslim Brotherhood "because the downfall of the regime has led to rapprochement among all religious groups".

Abd-al-Ghani said he did not think that Egypt would be transformed into "another Taliban". He said the comparison should be with Turkey "which prospered under the Islamists".

Asked about the group's relationship with Al-Qa'ida, Abd-al-Ghani replied: "My personal view is that Al-Qai'da has all the rights and legitimacy in fighting and combating those who occupy the Arab and Islamic countries, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq. This is part of mandatory and legitimate jihad. My only objection to Al-Qa'ida's style is on its undertaking of military operations against the Arab and Islamic regimes."

Abd-al-Ghani said he agreed with the interviewer that Ayman al-Zawahiri was the number one man in Al-Qa'ida not the second-in-command. "Indeed he is the number one man and Bin Ladin is the number two man, not the other way around. This is because Al-Zawahiri is considered the real thinker and ideologue with organizational and operational since the 1960s, unlike the rich Bin Ladin who entered this domain after Afghanistan's occupation," said Abd-al-Ghani who said he spent three years in the same cell in Egypt with Al-Zawahiri in the 1980s.

Asked whether he expected Al-Zawahiri to consider returning to Egypt after the revolution which toppled the regime of Husni Mubarak, Abd-al-Ghani replied "I do not think he can consider this because he knows he is wanted dead or alive by the United States."

Asked why the Islamic Group does not move to obtain the release of its godfather, Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman who is jailed in the United States, Abd-al-Ghani said "we hope the United States will release him in the coming period, especially since he is an elderly man and suffers from many ailments".

Abd-al-Ghani said his recent differences between Dr Najih Ibrahim, one of the Islamic Group' s top leaders, was because of his call for restructuring the group and reelecting its Shura Council which has been in office since 1974. He denied Ibrahim's accusations that he was advocating return to violence, a charge which led to suspending his membership temporarily. "Elections should be held at the grass-root level to form a general assembly which in turn elects a new Shura Council. The grassroots elections are now underway in the villages and provincial capitals, and the Shura Council will be elected within days," he said. He said Najih Ibrahim and Karam Zuhdi opted to resign from the Shura Council to devote their energies to advocacy work.

Asked whether the Group was considering, like the Muslim Brotherhood, the formation of a political party, he replied: "This is very relevant and it will be proposed at the next general assembly meeting. If it is approved we shall launch incorporation steps," he said.

He said he did not think any member of the group intends to run in the presidential elections, adding that participation in the legislative elections would be considered "according to future contingencies".

Abd-al-Ghani was asked about recent statements by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Yahya al-Jamal about amending Article Two of the Constitution which stipulates that Islamic Shari'a is the main source of legislation, statements which the interviewer said caused dismay among the Egyptian people and particularly among religious currents. Abd-al-Ghani replied: "Dr Yahya al-Jamal departed from all political and patriotic logic when he made statements demanding amending Article Two of the Constitution, not to mention other strange statements that he should not have made including his call for banning the establishment of political parties on religious frames of reference".

Asked about the group's position on Egyptians "who adopt subversive ideologies like the Bah'ais and Al-Qadyaniyah [Al-Ahmadiyyah]", Abd--al-Ghani replied: "These ideologies violate the firm faith of the [Islamic] Nation and conflict with it. Allowing the promotion of such ideologies would demolish the faith of the Nation which must join hands to combat those stray people and expose them." Told by the interviewer that the Islamic currents have had no known role in combating these ideologies, he replied "the security prevented us from doing so, but to be perfectly honest all the religious currents in Egypt and the Muslims in particular know the major role I carried out to confront those misled deviates".

Abd-al-Ghani joined the Islamic Group when he was a high-school student. At 18, he was accused in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat but was acquitted in 1984 after spending three years in jail during which he made the personal acquaintance of many leading Islamist personalities from the Muslim Brothers, Jihad as well as Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri. He was arrested several times between 1984 and 1990.

Reminded by the interviewer that he had confessed to assassinating Al-Mahjub to journalists during his trial, Abd-al-Ghani would only say "we got an acquittal in that case". He was released in 2005 after spending 15 years in prison. He presently works as director of legal affairs at the Private Sinai University.

[Description of Source: Cairo Al-Jumhuriyah in Arabic  Website of state-controlled daily whose editorial line strongly defends regime policy.]

Fear of Islamists grows as Salafis plan to form new party

GMP20110407966075 Cairo Daily News Egypt Online in English 1305 GMT 07 Apr 11

[Collected by webscraper and Auto selected and released without editorial intervention.]

PAGE: ew=article&id=128879&catid=1&Itemid=183

TITLE: Fear of Islamists grows as Salafis plan to form new party

SECTION: Society

AUTHOR: Omnia Al Desoukie / Special to Daily News Egypt



CAIRO: Egypt’s Salafis, who have been the center of controversy lately, are slated to establish Al-Nahda, or the Renaissance Party, open for all Egyptians to join, according to Mamdouh Ismail, a lawyer and founder of the party.

“Until now we have collected more than 6,000 signatures to establish the party,” Ismail told Daily News Egypt, explaining that the name was chosen based on the purpose of the party which is to carry Egypt to a better stage.

Ismail said that Salafism is an ideology rather than a movement or a political group. “Before Jan. 25, 70 percent of the Salafis insisted on staying away from politics but now since Egypt is moving to a newer phase, 70 percent agrees with forming party and only 30 percent rejects the idea,” he explained.

According to a statement the party has 10 objectives, the most important of which include preserving the Arab and Islamic identity of Egypt, achieving social justice, developing education, maintaining customs and traditions, morality and cohesion, in addition to eradicating poverty and unemployment.

The party’s representative said that they are ready to cooperate with all the national powers for the advancement of the society, adding that women and Copts are welcome to join the party.

Ismail, however, said that female or Coptic leadership of the party will depend on the party’s members.

“These are just general words, but the reality will be different,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political analyst at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, referring to the establishment of the Salafis’ political party.

“The outgoing regime has used Salafis to fight the Muslim Brotherhood, no one knew that they would have political aspirations as well.

“Salafis don’t want to be part of the current regimes, if they are calling for democracy now where were they at the time of the systematic violations in Egypt?” Abdel Fattah added.

On the other hand, Ali Abdel Al, a journalist who has written about and researched Salafi issues, explained that the move taken by the group – forming a party – is similar to that of the Muslim Brotherhood as these groups seek legitimacy which was lacking under the ousted regime.

The Islamic groups’ move to form political parties is spreading fear of an Islamist takeover in Egypt.

Sheikh Abdel Moaty, a prominent Salafi, who disagrees with establishing Al-Nahda Party, said that to deal with Egyptian politics parties should not be established on a religious foundation. He said religious groups cannot form a party unless they abandon their ideologies.

Salafis follow a conservative interpretation of Islam, close to Saudi Arabia’s Wahabis’. They seek to emulate the practices of Islam’s early days and deem a lot of current practices as “un-Islamic.”

Salafis, Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood

The Salafi movement has steered clear of politics for various reasons in the past and did not take part in the protests that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

The Salafi relationship with the former Mubarak regime was vague. Many observers and analysts said that the regime used the Salafis to counter the Muslim Brotherhood, which counted as Egypt’s largest opposition group at that time.

“Salafism is a pure ‘scholastic’ trend which focuses on the rules of Islamic jurisprudence as a whole and was not involved in politics before,” explained Anas Al-Qassas, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member, who believes that the current political activism is new to the Salafi trend.

“There were some Salafis who [countered the Muslim Brotherhood] giving themselves religious justifications. But they were still a minority inside the Salafi current, even the list we know show big names inside the current as a whole. But now we treat all of them with tolerance as we did before the Nasser era. This is a main constituent in the moral structure of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Al-Qassas said.

Post-Mubarak, the Salafi movement’s ideology is growing stronger, spearheading many activities including political sessions in Alexandria before and after the referendum raising awareness among the youth about their political ideology.

For the first time in Egyptian history, one advertisement campaign, printed in the state-run Al-Ahram news paper on March 16, three days prior to the referendum on constitutional amendments, on behalf of the Sharia Association for Worker Cooperation through the Quran and Sunnah which holds the Salafis’ ideology, stated that the January 25 Revolution was a gift from Allah which needed to be protected.

The advert continued: “The entire leadership of the association considers it to be an Islamic duty that every Egyptian voice their agreement to the amendments as a first step towards the later formulation of a complete constitution. Gradual reform cannot be rejected by any sane person. We see giving up on this duty as a negative thing rejected by Islam.”

In return, different Islamic studies and political experts rejected the Salafis’ involvement in the Egyptian political sphere, claiming the movement lacks understanding of politics and are jumping on the January 25 Revolution bandwagon.

“The groups of Salafis we have are extremists, who are trying to steal the victory of the January 25 Revolution,” wrote Abdel Moety Bayoumy for Al-Shorouk newspaper.

Salafis in the news

Last week when a group of villagers stormed a bar in Kafr El-Basil, 30 km away from Fayoum, destroying the property that is known to serve alcohol, fingers were immediately pointed to Salafis, both by the bar’s owner as well as the media.

The owner retaliated by firing against the perpetrators, leaving one dead and 13 injured.

However, Mohamed Gomaa, who was wounded with a gun shot in his shoulder, insisted that none of the villagers belonged to a Salafi or any other Islamist group, but were rather residents who were discontented with having a bar in their village.

“We approached the owner a number of times and begged him to close down the bar … but he never listened to us,” he said.

“We filed a complaint to the police but they never came to shut it down instead he was given a license so after January 25 we felt that it’s our right as villagers to bring the bar down.

“However we neither belong to Salafis nor any Islamic group,” he added.

Gomaa said the bar owner called them Salafis so that the police arrest them since Islamic movements are a major concern post-Jan. 25.

Al-Akhbar also reported that a group of 50 Salafis stormed the bar, in a recent trend placing Salafis under the spotlight.

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