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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Monday, August 07, 2006


Cairo, 7 August (AKI) - Egyptian Islamist group, Gamaa al-Islamiya has denied it has links with al-Qaeda, contradicting remarks made in a video message by the terror network's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri broadcast two weeks ago. "We bring good news for the Islamic nation, the knights of Gamaa al-Islamiya have joined al-Qaeda," the Egyptian-born al-Zawahiri said in a message broadcast by the Arab satellite television station on 27 July.

But in a statement posted on the Internet the Egyptian group's leadership said that "though some members [of Gamaa al-Islamiya] have joined al Zawahiri's group, as he himself confirmed in the video message, it is improbable that the majority of our members would follow their path."

"Our movement has rejected violence since 1997 and we have held fast to this principle. Gamaa categorically denies any merger between itself and the militants of al-Qaeda," the statement said.

Signed by a Gamaa leader, Abdel Akher Hamad, the statement described those members of the group who have defected to al-Waeda as "minor elements" such as Mohamed al-Islambouli, the younger brother of Khaled al-Islambouli, the militant who assassinated Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat in 1979 and was later executed.

It is not clear how many followers Gamaa Islamiya has on the ground in Egypt. The organisation has been hit by several government crackdowns and it has not claimed any attacks since the late 1990s.

Al-Zawahri was once a member of Islamic Jihad, the other main Egyptian militant group that led violence in the 1990s alongside the original Gamaa Islamiya. In the late 1990s he moved to Afghanistan and joined forces with bin Laden, bringing a number of Egyptian militants with him.
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