Skip to comments.Egypt Frees 900 Muslim Militants [900 Terrorists Let Loose!]
Posted on 09/30/2003 11:27:34 AM PDT by TastyManatees
Security Sources: Egypt Frees 900 Muslim Militants
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt released 900 members of an Islamic militant group that killed 58 tourists in 1997 and helped plot the murder of president Anwar Sadat, security sources said on Tuesday.
Analysts said that freeing so many members of the outlawed al-Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group), whose jailed leaders renounced violence six years ago, would help the movement gain a political voice and could strengthen the hand of more moderate Islamists in the Arab world's most populous country.
News of the mass release came two days after Egypt announced it had freed Karam Zuhdi, the influential head of al-Gama'a's policy-making Shura council.
The security sources said the 900 included other leaders such as Mamdouh al-Youssef as well as rank-and-file members, but were not able to say exactly when they were set free.
One of the sources saw a strong chance for other members of al-Gama'a's Shura council to be freed in the next few days.
"This shows the Egyptian government is sure now there is no threat of problems from the group. They are sure of its transformation from violence to a political group," said Diaa Rashwan, an expert on Islamic militant groups at the Cairo-based al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
Al-Gama'a's violent history stretched back for decades before jailed leaders, including Zuhdi, called for a truce in 1997, dividing the movement. Several al-Gama'a leaders were imprisoned for their role in Sadat's 1981 assassination.
The group also participated in a six-year campaign in the 1990s to overthrow Egypt's government and install an Islamist regime, and gained infamy for the murder of 58 tourists in the town of Luxor in 1997 by a faction opposed to the cease-fire.
There have been no militant attacks in Egypt since then.
Rashwan said over 5,000 al-Gama'a members had been released since the cease-fire, with human rights groups estimating that about 10,000 members remain in jail.
Egypt's official MENA news agency said on Sunday that Zuhdi was freed because he "had completed his term in prison" but also cited humanitarian reasons, saying he suffered health problems.
Analysts said it was more likely he was released to allow his more moderate views to influence budding Islamists.
They say that although Egypt's tough crackdown on militancy has wiped out the organizational capacity of Islamic groups, the Islamic world has become more radicalized since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the U.S.-led war on terror, giving birth to a new generation of potential militants.
World: Middle East
Bin Laden 'behind Luxor massacre'
Four Egyptians and 58 tourists died in the attack
May 13, 1999
By Barbara Plett in Cairo
Egypt has told a Swiss delegation it believes the Saudi dissident, Osama bin Laden, financed the 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.
Four Egyptians and 58 tourists - 35 of them Swiss nationals - were killed in the attack by Muslim militants.
Switzerland's federal police chief, Urs Von Daeniken, told journalists that Egypt suspects the Luxor massacre was ordered by an Egyptian named Mustafa Hamza and carried out with funding from Osama bin Laden.
Mr Hamza is said to be a military leader of Egypt's largest Muslim militant group, the Gamaa al-Islamiyya, and appeared to have given either direct or indirect instructions for the attack from Sudan.
He is now believed to be living in Afghanistan, where Mr bin Laden has his headquarters.
The United States has accused Osama bin Laden of masterminding a terrorist network suspected of bombing two American embassies in Africa last year.
Washington responded with missile attacks on sites in Afghanistan and Sudan said to be linked to Mr bin Laden, but has failed to produce strong evidence to support the Sudanese connection.
Mr Von Daeniken said Switzerland was satisfied with Egypt's conclusion in light of the available evidence.
He was in Cairo with Switzerland's Attorney General to follow up the Egyptian investigation.
Eighteen months after the massacre, Egypt still has not given Switzerland a final report.
Officials here say the inquiry is still open, but have promised to provide written answers to a list of Swiss questions within 15 days.
Mr Von Daeniken confirmed that Egypt has not yet been able to identify the sixth terrorist - the other five were young men from southern Egypt, most of them students.
All were killed in unclear circumstances after the att
Methinks we need to issue a worldwide alert against traveling to Egypt. Thanks, Mubarak. Poseur.
Btw, the "blue" states in the '96 election (and all previous elections I can remember) were GOP states, so you might want to consider changing you username ......the media could very well go back to the old color scheme for 2004. And anyway, it's only right that Dems be designated in "Commie Red."
Massacre In Luxor: Islamic Schools to Blame, Says Egyptian Editor
Normally the Western press, after such massacres as that of Luxor on November 17, 1997 explicitly try to exonerate Islam itself from responsibility for the murders. The argument usually goes something like this: "These barbarians are dishonoring a great religion, they are simply manipulating Islam for their political purposes. The real Islam advocates peace, and has nothing in common with its fundamentalist interpretation. These fanatics have arisen because the corrupt regimes supported by Western powers have forced Western secularization down their throats. Indeed, it is this more subtle, insidious, Western neo-colonialism that is responsible for the barbarous slaughter of 100,000 people in Algeria, Egypt, Afghanistan...."
How refreshing then -- nay, even revolutionary -- to read in the Egyptian daily Al Goumhouriya on the day after the massacre that the real responsibility lies with all Egyptians in general, and the religious schools in particular: "All Egyptians are responsible. It is our society which has incubated these criminals and we are their refuge since they live, hide, kill and come back amongst us. [The religious Islamic University of Al Azhar and its Koranic schools] fill the heads with Islamic teaching, which is but a kind of brain-washing," states Mahfouz al Ansari. Describing the Al Azhar and its religious schools as factories for producing extremists, Ansari also drew a direct parallel with the massacres in Algeria, and criticized the silence of the religious sheikhs.
Reported by Ibn Warraq
Sure, right after they hacked 58 tourists to death. They're cold-blooded murdering savages. Why not also believe they might be liars?
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