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Tuesday, August 16, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Islamists linked to Sadat assassination returning
to Egypt from Iran

CAIRO — After nearly 20 years of exile, Islamic fugitives have begun to return from Iran to Egypt.


Islamist sources said fugitives who escaped Egypt to Iran in the 1980s and 1990s have been quietly returning to their homes in the Arab state. They said many of the fugitives were reported to be members of the Gamiat Islamiya, blamed for killing President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

"Iran wants to get rid of the Egyptians as part of a reconciliation [with Cairo]," an Islamist source said. "Some of them are leaving Iran for Pakistan and then making their way home."

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Gamiat leader Mohammed Yassin has confirmed the flow of Islamists to Egypt. Yassin said he was tracking the movement of a leading member, Mohammed Islambouli, the Al Qaida-aligned brother of the man accused of assassinating Sadat.

"They told him [Islambouli] to leave about a month ago and he chose to travel to Pakistan," Yassin said. "I am told that he is back in Iran and will soon leave for Egypt."

In an interview with the Saudi-owned Al Hayat daily, Yassin said he was helping coordinate the return of Gamiat members from Iran with Egypt's Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry, Middle East Newsline reported. He suggested that the new military regime was not opposed to the arrival of the exiled insurgents.

Iran was said to have harbored at least 25 Gamiat and other members of the Islamist opposition linked to the assassination of Sadat. The sources said many of the fugitives have been ordered to leave Iran over the next few weeks.

The exodus of the Egyptian fugitives was said to mark a major element in a reconciliation effort by Cairo and Teheran. Egypt has long linked reconciliation to the expulsion of fugitives harbored by the Teheran regime.

So far, Egypt's military regime has not been arresting the returning fugitives, the sources said. This included Hisham Ramadan, a Gamiat member linked to Taliban and Al Qaida, and who returned to Egypt in early August.

Not all of the Islamists harbored by Iran were returning to Egypt. The sources said members of another insurgency group, Jihad, were seeking asylum in other countries.

"Egypt wants to close the file and have no Egyptian Islamists in Teheran over the next few days or weeks at most," Yassin said.

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