Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Members of Al-Jihad Released, Brotherhood Detained

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Egypt has released 135 prisoners who had previously been associated with the extremist group Al-Jihad, after they signed statements renouncing violence. The prisoners had all been jailed for over a decade for participation in the extremist group, which has been blamed for Anwar Sadat's assasination. Here is a little more info about the group (CNS):

Ideology: The group seeks to establish Islamic rule in Egypt by force and targets any secular establishment that they believe to be heretical, especially secular Arab governments. Al-Jihad al-Islami's primary goal is to "overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state," and to attack "U.S. and Israeli interests in Egypt and abroad."[1,2]

Description: The group has been called an "Egyptian Islamic extremist group" active since the late 1970s, and a "close partner of Bin Laden's Al-Qaida organization." Al-Jihad al-Islami is a large, loosely organized militant group active since the late 1970s in Egypt. Most of the group's attacks have been against Egyptian and other government officials.[1,2] Al-Jihad al-Islami is believed to pursue more high-profile government targets than other Egyptian Islamist groups.

Group Leader: unknown; spiritual leader Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman, suspected leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

The leader of another extremist group Al-Gamaa Al Islamiyya issued a statement renouncing violence (to an extent) and even appealing to Al-Qaeda to do the same:

"I'm ... appealing to ... brothers in al-Qaida organization everywhere," Ibrahim's statement said. "I'm appealing to you to stop and review your stances, to put your effort, the Jihad (holy war) ... in the right place and time, away from infighting among Muslims ... away from killing civilians, both Muslims and non Muslims."

"My beloved brothers in al-Qaida: Islamic movements revising ideas and views in religion and life is not a sign of weakness but a proof of strength and vitality," he added.

The leaders of Al-Jihad made their appeal from within prison.

On the same day, over 40 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were detained:
The detentions bring to at least 40 the number of members held since Saturday morning in parallel with what the movement says is an attempt to disrupt its plans to contest June 11 elections for the upper house of parliament.

The Interior Ministry said the 16 detained on Monday were "organizationally linked to ... the Muslim Brotherhood's secret organization".

Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Office, said that such an organization did not exist. "The group is well known and operates in the open," he told Reuters.

The latest detainees include Abdel Aziz Abdel Kader, the deputy leader of the organization in the Nile Delta province of Sharkia, where police rounded up 14 members on Saturday, the Brotherhood said on its Web site, www.ikhwanonline.com.

Mursi said the people detained on Saturday were on a Brotherhood training course on how to manufacture and market detergents and household cleaning products. They had nothing to do with any political activity by the movement, he added.

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