Skip to comments.Egypt Frees 950 Gamaa Islamiya Prisoners
Posted on 04/12/2006 8:20:24 PM PDT by Calpernia
Egypt has released 950 jailed members of the militant Islamist group Gamaa Islamiya. Some of them have been in prison since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat 25 years ago.
The group's lawyer says about 950 members of Gamaa Islamiya have been released over the last 10 days. The largest group, several hundred, were freed Tuesday, in honor of a Muslim holiday marking the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Those released include several senior figures, some of whom have been imprisoned for more than 20 years.
Gamaa Islamiya was once Egypt's largest militant Islamist group, responsible for a string of terrorist attacks in the 1990s, including the 1997 attack in Luxor that killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians.
The group's leaders renounced violence and entered into a truce with the government in the late 1990s. Hundreds of its members have been released over the last few years, but never quite this many.
Montasser El-Zayat is a lawyer who has defended members of Gamaa Islamiya in court.
"I would say the Interior Ministry has come to believe that Gamaa Islamiya has really modified its position, its members have changed their thinking, and releasing them would pose no danger," he said.
It is still not clear how many members of Gamaa Islamiya and other banned groups remain in Egyptian prisons. The U.S. State Department estimates the number around 10,000, but El-Zayat says the Egyptian government has never released figures.
"The problem is that there are no statistics on the exact number of people who have been arrested," he noted. "There are also no statistics on the number of those released."
Egypt's other main armed militant group is Islamic Jihad, which unlike Gamaa Islamiya has not renounced violence or struck a deal with the government. El-Zayat suspects that will change.
"I think in the next period there will be extensive dialogues with the jailed members of Islamic Jihad," he noted.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has promised to repeal the restrictive emergency law that has been in effect since Mr. Sadat's assassination 25 years ago. He will replace the emergency law with an anti-terrorism law that critics say will probably be no better when it comes to human rights. But El-Zayat says when the emergency law is repealed, prisoners who are currently being held under it will probably have to be released. He suspects the government will want to clear the prisons out gradually beforehand, so he expects more detainees to be released before the new law is enacted.
For more translations and news on terrorism, visit http://www.lauramansfield.com
Zawahiri (al Qaeda #2) videotape surfaces
OOh.. it's a coming! Americans really need to wake up to th rights of the 2nd ammendment..
I really do fear for my children.
Very cogent piece on the history of some highly dangerous people. Thanks very much for posting this.
Expecting an uptick in Egyptian terror incidents in due course.
See link in post 3 also.
Please provide the source(s) and working link(s) for the article(s) in your first response. Thanks.
Post 1 =
Jane's - Paid subscription
THANKS for the ping Calpernia.
Can I add back the paragraph that shows the relationship of Gamaa Islamiya to Zawahiri?
If you include the source, a working link to the article, and make sure it's an excerpt, that should work.
28 September 2001
Inside Al-Qaeda: a window into the world of militant Islam and the Afghani alumni
By Richard Engel, Cairo and Amman
Ayman al-Zawahari, 50, has more experience in radical Islamic politics than even Bin Laden. Interpol has listed al-Zawahari among its most wanted men. He is described by Western officials as Bin Laden's right-hand man and heir apparent to his organisation. Hailing from a long line of prominent politicians, doctors and religious leaders, his full name is Ayman Mohammed Rabie al-Zawahari, although he has used the code names Abu Mohammed and Abu Fatima.
A surgeon, al-Zawahari has been described as a private, intelligent and vindictive person. "He was first arrested in 1966 when he was just 15 years old for belonging to the then-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest radical Islamic group. During the 1970s, al-Zawahari remained involved with militant Islamic organisations and emerged as a leader of Egypt's Gihad group, which, in conjunction with the Gamaa Islamiya, carried out the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
After Sadat's murder, al-Zawahari was arrested, but police were never able to tie him directly to the assassination.....