Report: Egypt penetrating, controlling insurgency groups

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Egypt has infiltrated Islamic insurgency groups and appears to be forcing them to end their policy of violence, a new report says.

Islamic insurgency groups were responsible for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. In the 1990s, they attempted to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak as well as two successive interior ministers.

The Egyptian effort has led to a call by leaders of the Gamiat Islamiya for an end to attacks on Egypt and a policy of peaceful opposition, Middle East Newsline reported.

The report, entitled "The Other face of the Islamist Movement," said Egyptian security agencies have succeeded in halting Islamic insurgency operations by infiltrating cells and halting the flow of funds. The report, published by the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said this has forced at least one major insurgency group, the Gamiat Islamiya, to announce an end to operations in Egypt.

"There was also no prospect for a future victory of jihad [holy war] against the [Egyptian] government," the report said. "Close government surveillance of mosques had made recruitment difficult. The police force, particularly under Minister of Interior Hassan Al-Alfy and his successor Habib Al-Adly, had been very successful in penetrating the group's organization, preempting planned operations, tracing the source of funding, and disrupting lines of communication with these sources."

The report was authored by Mustapha Kamel Al Sayyid, director of the Center for Developing Countries Studies at Cairo University in Egypt. Al Sayyid was a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in July and August of 2002.

The crackdown by the regime of President Hosni Mubarak has also led to the neutralization of the rival Jihad group.

The report said Gamiat is now being pressure to divert its efforts against Israel and the United States. The pressure imposed by the group's foreign donors has led to what the report termed was "harassment of members and leaders of the organization abroad, particularly in Europe."

Jihad is also said to be considering a decision to end insurgency attacks on Egypt. But the report said the Jihad is split into rival factions, one of which is led by Ayman Zawahiri, the chief aide to Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

Despite the new policy direction of the Gamiat, Egyptian authorities have not eased pressure on Islamic groups. The report said thousands of suspected Islamic agents remain in jail and the government continues to harass the Muslim Brotherhood.

The report said Islamic political parties will continue to draw heavy support in Arab countries even amid the U.S.-led war against terrorism. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has gained control of some of the most important and largest professional associations.

"More important, the Muslim Brothers seemed to be succeeding in Islamizing the society," the report said. "Religious practice has been on the rise in Egypt for over two decades. The number of people who go to mosques on Friday for the collective weekly noon prayer, perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, or fast during the month of Ramadan has increased, as has the number of religious books and cassettes for sale." = =

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