| Egypt Arrests Al-Qa'ida Infiltrators Seeking To Revive Activities There
GMP20110710148001 Kuwait Al-Jaridah Online in Arabic 07 Jul 11
[Report by Imad Fawwaz: "Investigations Revealed That the Al-Qa'ida Organization Seeks To Revive Its Activities in the Region Via Egypt"]
Hamid Abdallah, head of the Egyptian National Security Sector, told Al-Jaridah that the Egyptian security agencies managed to arrest 445 members affiliated with Islamic groups, who had fled the country. These infiltrators have been trying to sneak across the Sudanese, Libyan, and Palestinian borders with Egypt since the 25 January revolution up till the past few days.
Abdallah said that "the arrested elements are currently subjected to intensive interrogations on their activities during the period of their escape outside Egypt since the early and mid-1990s." He pointed out that "these investigations are carried out with the help of security parties that are concerned with hard-line Islamic organizations and with ways of confronting them in the framework of counterterrorism."
The security official noted: "The investigations revealed critical information about the efforts of Al-Qa'ida and other jihadist organizations to revive their activities in Egypt after the revolution. These organizations seek to take Egypt as a base from which they can spread out in the region." He added that the Egyptian Security Forces confronted them and that the international security authorities are trying to find the meeting centers of the leaders of these groups.
Abdallah said: "The Egyptian security sector is awaiting the arrival of certain persons within days, especially the Islamic groups' members who fled from Iran after the official announcement of their expulsion, for their return to Egypt has become inevitable. They can go nowhere else." He added: "We are waiting for them to bring them to trial for escaping the cases in which verdicts were recorded against them, and to interrogate them on their activities abroad."
Dr Tariq al-Zumur, key leader of "the Islamic Group" in Egypt, announced a few days ago that Iran decided to expel 25 key figures of the group existing there, particularly Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambulli, brother of Khalid al-Islambulli, assassin of the late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat.
Al-Zumur added that Tehran had asked the group, which includes members against whom the Egyptian courts issued penalties up to the death penalty and life imprisonment, to leave its territory. This makes it imperative for them to return to Egypt, for if they returned to Pakistan, they would be at the hands of the CIA and the international intelligence which are looking for them. He asserted that the reasons behind their expulsion are not known -- though it might be attributed to the qualitative improvement of the Egyptian-Iranian relations after the 25 January revolution which toppled the regime of the former President Husni Mubarak.
[Description of Source: Kuwait Al-Jaridah Online in Arabic -- Website of independent, liberal newspaper focusing on regional affairs; URL: http://www.aljarida.com/aljarida/]
Al-Hayah Report Says Iran Expelled Egyptian Islamists To Improve Ties With Egypt
GMP20110705825001 London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic 05 Jul 11
[Report by Ahmad Rahim in Cairo: Iran Expelled Wanted Persons in Preparation for Developing Relations With Egypt]
Al-Hayah has learned that the Iranian authorities expelled a number of Egyptian Islamists who are wanted for security reasons by Cairo, headed by Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambuli, an in-law of late Al-Qa'ida leader Usama Bin Ladin and brother of killer of former President Anwar Sadat; Husayn Shumayt, a leading figure in the military wing of the Islamic Group; and more than 20 others who are affiliated with the Group and the Jihad Organization.
Dr Najih Ibrahim, a leading figure in the Islamic Group, told Al-Hayah that Al-Islambuli, Shumayt, and others, including suspects in the case of the assassination attempt against President Husni Mubarak "have actually left Iran for an unknown destination after the authorities in Tehran informed them of the need for their departure." He added that "Iran is preparing to turn a new page in the relations with Egypt and wants to remove the mines in the road of developing these relations." Egypt had refused to develop relations with Iran (the two countries have two interest sections headed by two diplomats at the level of ambassador). It hinged reaching an agreement on "regional and security issues" headed by the regional role and extraditing wanted persons without ignoring "the symbolic issues," including naming one of Tehran streets after the killer of Sadat. The expectations of the resumption of full relations with Iran have increased after the 25 January revolution in light of the exchange of friendly statements by the two sides.
Al-Islambuli was sentenced to death in Egypt in the case of the returnees from Afghanistan, and Shumayt is also sentenced to death in the case of the assassination attempt against Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995.
Ibrahim said that Iran was keeping those expelled under house arrest, adding that "those expelled from Iran do not have many choices since they cannot return to Afghanistan, which they left after the US invasion, and headed for Iran, which gave them refuge all these years and banned them from carrying out hostile actions particularly since they include Al-Qa'ida members."
Ibrahim expected that those expelled have left Iran about 10 days ago for Pakistan, but he said that Muhammad al-Islambuli called his mother in Cairo who advised him not to leave for Pakistan for fear that he may be killed there.
[Description of Source: London Al-Hayah Online in Arabic -- Website of influential Saudi-owned London pan-Arab daily. URL: http://www.daralhayat.com]
Egyptian Islamic Group Leader on Jihadist Activities in Egypt,Yemen, Afghanistan
GMP20110612101001 Kuwait Al-Ra'y Online in Arabic 12 Jun 11
[Corrected version: Adding Iran to topic countries; Interview with Ali al-Sharif, Egyptian Islamic Group leader in Yemen, by Ahmad Imbabi in Cairo on 12 June]
[Imbabi] How did you come to join the Islamic Group and what was your relationship with them?
[Al-Sharif] I joined the Islamic Group in Asyut since its inception and I committed to its ranks since it was established as a religious group at universities at the end of the 1970s. I gradually evolved in the group until it transformed into a movement with a vision and a methodology different than that of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the only religious group on the scene at the time.
[Imbabi] Does that mean that you had a hand in the assassination attempt on late President Anwar al-Sadat?
[Al-Sharif] I was convicted in the big Jihad case, number 462 for the year 1981, top national security. I was released three years later in 1984. Afterword, I finished my studies at the Al-Azhar University in Asyut and I became an amir in the group at the university. After graduating from the university in 1986 and when the security services refused to appoint me in a government position because of my security record, I decided to travel outside Egypt. That was in 1990; I traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah after filing a lawsuit against Major General Zaki Badr, the then Egyptian interior minister, for preventing me from traveling to Yemen. From Saudi Arabia I traveled to Nigeria for a month or more as an Imam for the Islamic World League. During my trip to Nigeria, I was arrested at Cairo Airport and Dr Abdallah Nasif, the secretary general of the Muslim World League interceded and contacted the then Al-Azhar Shaykh Dr Jad-al-Haq and the Mufti saying: How can the delegate of the Muslim World League be arrested?
[Imbabi] What role have you played for the organization of the group from Saudi Arabia?
[Al-Sharif] I stayed in Saudi Arabia for two years. Before my trip to Nigeria I tried to establish a nucleus for the Islamic Group in Saudi Arabia from elements and members of the group who were able to travel there and to a few other countries, such as Muhammad Khalil al-Hakayimah who joined Al-Qa'ida few years back and was killed in Pakistan. After going back I came across leading figure Usamah Rushdi; he came from Cairo and helped organize the establishment of the group in Saudi Arabia until he had a disagreement with leading figure Tal'at Fu'ad and left Saudi Arabia. Hence the responsibility to run the group was placed on me again.
[Imbabi] Have the members of the group and the organization in Saudi Arabia enjoyed any freedom while you were there?
[Al-Sharif] There were many events. The Saudi security services were requested to arrest me because Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman, the group's spiritual leader who is now arrested in the United States, was in Saudi Arabia. He lived with me in my apartment and the Saudi security was watching the moves of Shaykh Umar because he had issued a Fatwa deeming Saudi rulers infidel for bringing US troops to invade Iraq. The Saudi security raided our apartment where there were the three of us; myself, the Mufti of the group Abd-al-Akhar Hamad, and Tal'at Fu'ad. I put the Saudi security under the illusion that there is a large group of Islamic Group members in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. I told them: do you want to arrest three people or wait till after dinner for 20 more others to arrive? They said they will wait. It was a ruse through which the three of us managed to take our papers and escape. It is worth noting that the security were saying that they wanted to arrest two people, the first being Ali al-Sharif and the second being Al-Asmar while both suspects are the same person because Al-Asmar was my alias. During this period I decided to leave Saudi Arabia and head to Yemen in 1992.
[Imbabi] How is the presence of the Islamic Group in Saudi Arabia at the time?
[Al-Sharif] The idea of setting up a camp for the Islamic Group in Afghanistan started at the time, for there were some members in Saudi Arabia. Some of those members were studying in Asyut University and went to Saudi Arabia for Umrah. Shaykh Abdallah Azzam was their point of contact, so they decided to go to jihad in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, some members from the group came to Saudi Arabia, such as Samih Ghamri and a man named Adli from Asyut, and they suggested setting up a camp for the Islamic Group in Afghanistan. I objected and told the brethrens, such as Shawqi al-Islambuli and Usamah Rushdi, that this is a grave mistake.
[Imbabi] What was your objection based on?
[Al-Sharif] I viewed that this would cast a heavy burden that the group cannot bear and it would result in security persecution everywhere. There was no reason for setting the camp, for we were not planning to engage in clashes in Egypt. I told them that the members would do better to participate in the camps of jihadists, whether Hekmatyar or others, and not to stand out so that the Egyptian security forces would not discover the camp, which would affect the group and its presence in Egypt in a negative way.
[Imbabi] What was the reaction of the group's members at the time?
[Al-Sharif] They said that they want to train on heavy weapons. However, I told them that we cannot use anything stronger than the Kalashnikov in Egypt and therefore, there is no need for the camp. They insisted, so I told them that Karam Zahdi, aided by Nabil al-Maghribi and Abbud al-Zamar, was the commander of the Islamic Group's military wing in 1981, but the wing did not succeed as hoped for anyway. I also told them that the commanders of the Afghanistan wing should not be of lower ranks than these commanders.
[Imbabi] Who was responsible for training the group's camp in Afghanistan?
[Al-Sharif] They entrusted a man named Adli with the military training and he was famous for his military experience. However, he could not fill the place left by Karam Zahdi or Nabil al-Maghribi. I told Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambuli that if we want to set up a camp, the commander should not be less powerful than Shaykh Karam Zahdi, so he answered in an impolite manner. I decided then not to go to Afghanistan. This is what happened in Saudi Arabia in 1991.
[Imbabi] Why did you prefer to come to Yemen?
[Al-Sharif] Although I helped many individuals to travel to Afghanistan or to come back, I never visited that country for the reasons that I previously mentioned. I gave an example that we are like two individuals inside an apartment and informers are waiting to catch them. The two played a cassette of slogans, so the informer reported that there is a group inside the apartment and security forces came to storm it. I meant that what they would do in the camp would have strong repercussions with the security forces and they will respond to the group fiercely under the wrong impression. In fact, nothing happened in Egypt, although they trained there and billions of dollars were spent to support them. However, they were not lucky in carrying out any action in Egypt.
[Imbabi] What is the estimated number of the group's members that participated in the camp and what were the sources of the funding?
[Al-Sharif] Dozens were going to Afghanistan. As for the funding, the jihad in Afghanistan was at the time supported from everyone, including the Egyptian and Saudi regimes and some Gulf countries, in addition to the US support with arms and money. Usama Bin Ladin played a big role in that sense and there were many facilities. We would travel for example to Saudi Arabia with our passports only and without visas, and sometimes we would even travel without passports. Therefore, all efforts were exerted to support this jihad in order to cause the Soviet Union's fall.
[Imbabi] What is the truth of the United States' having armed and supported Bin Ladin?
[Al-Sharif] These are slanderous and false claims, for he did not need anyone. He had 30 billion Saudi riyals. Moreover, a great number of prominent traders and businessmen in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf trusted him and his faith, so they would give him donations and zakat money [alms]. Therefore, talks about his relation with the United States are mere lies.
[Imbabi] Why did the Islamic Group's members who trained in Afghanistan fail to carry out operations in Cairo?
[Al-Sharif] Whoever would go to Egypt was detained, like the "Returnees From Afghanistan" group in 1993, of whom a member called Hani al-Shadhili was deceived [into detention]. People who had nothing to do with the issue were dragged into the issue, like Uthman al-Samman who was with me in Yemen at the time. Al-Shadhili asked the responsible for the military wing outside Egypt to say that Al-Samman asked them to carry out the operation. He wanted to hide the name of the true person who did this and was sentenced to death for this reason, but the sentence has not yet been carried out.
[Imbabi] How was the situation of the Islamic Group in Saudi Arabia after you moved to Yemen?
[Al-Sharif] After I moved to Yemen, we formed a nucleus for a special wing in the Islamic Group that includes a number of Egyptian teachers working there. I decided not to interfere in the business of anyone who wants to go to Afghanistan or come back. The group appointed a person in charge of this issue, while I was in charge of supervising the group in general. A third person was appointed as a military commander and a fourth as a jihadist missionary, upon orders from the group's leaders imprisoned in Egypt.
[Imbabi] Were there any connections between the [Islamic] Group and the leaders of the Group's Shura Council who were in prison at the time?
[Al-Sharif] Yes. No event would take place in the [Islamic] Group whether in Egypt or abroad without the approval of the imprisoned officials of the Group, who were aware of everything. Moreover, the leaders of the Group everywhere were jointly connected. Nothing would happen outside the spectrum and without the directions of the Group's officials. It is untrue that some members have carried out attacks without referring to their leaders, because no one would dare to do anything without referring to the officials of the Group.
[Imbabi] How was the activity of the Group in Yemen? Have you participated in planning for the military operations that the Group has carried out?
[Al-Sharif] A group of instructors used to manage the movements and the calls of the Group by recording tapes and by printing statements and publications. We have received a significant response from the Yemenis based on what they have heard of the group; they also considered killing Al-Sadat an outstanding step, for Yemen was among the teams of the steadfastness and confrontation in the Camp David Accord, therefore they were sympathetic.
[Imbabi] Have you planned for any operation from Yemen?
[Al-Sharif] Yemen was not a location for operations, which have always come from Afghanistan. However, this has not stopped us from helping and participating. There was an inclusive committee in Yemen that would undertake the preparations of the documents necessary for travel. Furthermore, each one who has come from Afghanistan has passed through Yemen.
[Imbabi] Does this mean that you have been aware of all the operations that the Group has planned for?
[Al-Sharif] Not necessarily; for the sake of maintaining confidentiality, there have been lots of operations that we have not known anything about. For instance, the assassination attempt against former President Husni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
[Imbabi] What was the role of the [Islamic] Group in this attempt?
[Al-Sharif] The military official has provided the perpetrators of the attack with Yemeni passports without my knowledge, even though I should have been alerted by virtue of my responsibility in Yemen. Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambuli was not informed about that either, even though he was a member of the Shura Council.
[Imbabi] Who was behind the Addis Ababa operation?
[Al-Sharif] Sharif Abd-al-Rahman carried out that operation, during which he passed away. Some members of the Group, whose names I do not remember, took part in the operation as well. Almost three of the perpetrators were sentenced to death, but the verdict was not implemented.
[Imbabi] Why did the Islamic Group decide to assassinate Mubarak?
[Al-Sharif] Because of the repression that he has been exercising against Muslims, and the killings that his regime has been perpetrating in public. We have been demanding the formation of a committee to investigate the events from 1990 until the announcement of the initiative to stop violence in 1997. This committee would launch transparent investigations regardless of the findings, because there were people missing and others killed in the streets and the apartments without trials or investigations.
The most dangerous thing is that Mubarak's regime has used women in a way that violates the simplest human rights so as to exert pressure on the members of the [Islamic] Group. He would take women as hostages in public and his regime would break into the houses and apartments to take women in their night gowns and torture them. Members of the Group have witnessed that; attorney Ibrahim Allam, who is currently in Germany, to name one. He was one of the convicts in the case of assassination of late Speaker of the Parliament Rif'at al-Mahjub and the case of the women in Upper Egypt, which is a case of honor that could not be waived or negotiated with anyone whosoever. We considered that this was a horrible crime which must be retaliated for and for the sake of which we were ready to sacrifice the precious and dear.
[Imbabi] Do you mean that you have been informed about the assassination attempt against Mubarak?
[Al-Sharif] I did not know about Addis Ababa's operation. However, there was a file in the Group and everyone would work for achieving the goal; that is, killing Husni Mubarak. All the organizations of the Group would cooperate for the sake of this goal.
[Imbabi] Were there any scenarios to assassinate Mubarak other than Addis Ababa's?
[Al-Sharif] Husni Mubarak survived more than 12 assassination attempts, the latest was that in Addis Ababa. Afterward, the Group declared the initiative to stop violence.
[Imbabi] Where have these operations taken place and why have they failed?
[Al-Sharif] All the operations were planned in Egypt and failed just like the attack of Sidi Barrani. The reason behind it is that Mubarak did not give us much room for understanding even though we were released from prison in 1984. After our release, we sought da'wah [the call for embracing Islam] and not violence. The murder of Sadat was a response for arresting all these people; and we thought that he would torture them just like Jamal Abd-al-Nasir had tortured the Brotherhood. We decided not to let this happen and not to let Abd-al-Nasir's era be repeated. There is a saying in Upper Egyptian that goes: "Kill him before he kills you; get your blow in first." This was our way of thinking. In retrospect, if we had to take a decision, we would not have made that step. If we were in the same circumstances again, we would not have agreed on killing Al-Sadat especially after the resulting repercussions, when Husni Mubarak, one of Al-Sadat's sins, took office. Now we long for Al-Sadat's era after what we have had to endure because of Husni Mubarak.
[Imbabi] You claimed that you were not aware of the incident of Addis Ababa although you knew that Mubarak was a target for the group. How did that happen?
[Al-Sharif] I heard about the incident for the first time when the newspapers mentioned that a group of Yemenis tried to assassinate Mubarak. I went to the houses of those who were mentioned, by the virtue of our relation, and found that the Yemeni Police was surrounding their houses. I went back to the military wing to discover that the police took the Yemeni passports of these young men to Addis Ababa.
[Imbabi] Why was the operation concealed from you and from Muhammad al-Islambuli?
[Al-Sharif] The operation was concealed out of secrecy and to prevent any leakage of information. We learnt the lesson when Al-Sadat was assassinated and hundreds knew about the operation beforehand, especially the Islamic Group members.
[Imbabi] Many Islamists in Sudan, such as Hasan al-Turabi and other parties, were accused of the incident of Addis Ababa. What is the truth behind that story?
[Al-Sharif] The true story was not told completely. There was tension between the Egyptian and the Sudanese regimes back then. Both, the regime in Khartoum and the Islamic group, had interest in getting rid of Husni Mubarak at that time, thus the two met on one goal. Nevertheless, I do not know what happened exactly between the two parties.
[Imbabi] Why did they choose the Ethiopian capital as a place to carry out the operation?
[Al-Sharif] It was chosen because it did not have a good security system like Egypt. This was common at that time in all African countries. The fact that I went to Nigeria and went out of the airport without even getting my passport stamped is evidence to what I am saying.
[Imbabi] You said that the non-violence initiative came after the incident in Addis Ababa... Did the group take this initiative as a result of the failure in assassinating Mubarak?
[Al-Sharif] The initiative was not a reaction to the incident of Addis Ababa. It was based on the conviction of the Islamic Group officials because they realized that violence and action and reaction theory against the regime lead to a dead end. Moreover, after the incident of Addis Ababa, the group's military operations became weak, achieving targets became hard, and the number of women who were imprisoned and violated increased. All these factors pressured the imprisoned leadership of the group. It is worth mentioning that there were previous initiatives, which were foiled by individuals affiliated to the regime, such as the dialogue of the group's leadership with Shaykh Al-Sha'rawi and Shaykh Al-Ghazali. Some people wanted us to stay in a bloody clash with the political and security leaderships.