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Friday, April 29, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Brotherhood enlists Salafists to do its 'dirty work' in Egypt

CAIRO — The Islamic opposition has begun to employ Al Qaida supporters for a violent campaign in Egypt.


Western diplomats have reported expanded cooperation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the so-called Salafist movement. The Salafists, funded by Gulf Arab sheiks, practice a brand of fundamentalist Islam similar to that of Al Qaida.

"There is evidence that the Salafists and Brotherhood are working together to take over the streets [of Egypt]," a diplomat said.

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The diplomats said the Brotherhood was using the Salafists for attacks on other elements of the opposition that helped oust President Hosni Mubarak in February, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the Brotherhood was exploiting its quiet cooperation with the military regime to attack Christians and Sufi Muslims in Cairo and Alexandria. In March, at least 25 people were killed in Salafist-led clashes with Christians in the Cairo area.

"The Brotherhood wants to present an image of moderation and non-violence," the diplomat said. "When it needs dirty work done, it calls the Salafists."

The first mass appearance of the Salafist movement was reported on April 1. On that day, about 3,000 Salafists, including foreign nationals, demonstrated outside the state-owned Al Ahram daily for an Islamic state.

Egypt receives $1.3 billion in annual military aid from the United States. In 2011, the Egyptian Air Force has been preparing for the arrival of the first of 20 advanced F-16 Block 52+ multi-role fighters from Lockheed Martin.

The diplomats said the Salafists have benefited since the military regime began more than two months ago. They said dozens of Salafist prisoners, including those convicted of security offenses, have been released with the promise that they would not attack government installations.

At the same time, the Brotherhood, which has launched the Justice and Freedom Party, has adopted the militancy of Al Qaida supporters in Egypt. This included Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who has called for jihad, or Islamic war, against internal and external enemies.

"Many Christians are afraid for the future because of the fanatics in the mosques," Egyptian Human Rights Federation director Naguib Gabriel said. "Every day, people ask how they can get to the U.S. and Canadian embassies."

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