Jamaat al-Islamiyya

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Jamaat al-Islamiyya, also known as al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya or Islamic Group, is among Egypt's oldest jihadist groups, although it has not claimed responsibility for attacks since the 1990s. Do not confuse it with Jemaah Islamiya, a Southeast Asian group. At this time, the more violent members appear to be affiliated with al-Qaeda and other groups.

Its origins are in the Muslim Brotherhood, from which it split, as a more radical faction, in the 1970s. In turn, some of its radicals have joined al-Qaeda and its leadership has renounced violence. In August 2006, Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed it merged with al-Qaeda, but that was denied by other leaders such as Mustafa Hamza, who agreed to a cease-fire in 1997.[1] al-Zawahiri was more closely associated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which did join al-Qaeda. The Luxor attack was under a faction led by Rifa'i Ahmad.[2]

It was involved in:

  • 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
  • 1992 assassination of Farag Foda, an Egyptian politicial and writer
  • 1992-1993 series of attacks against civilians
  • 1995 unsuccessful assassination attempt against President [[]]Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 1997 ambush of tourists near the Egyptian Museum in Cairo killed nine German tourists and their driver;
  • 1997 attack on a resort in Luxor killed fifty-eight tourists and four Egyptians

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the "blind sheikh", was convicted for approving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which was led by Ramzi Yousef. Yousef is a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but neither Yousef nor Mohammed were members of al-Qaeda at the time. This was an act of an extremist faction, as the group, when active, concentrated on Egypt.

Osama bin Laden tried to get them to cooperate with Egyptian Islamic Jihad on intra-Egyptian matters, but this approach failed with the accidental death of Abu Ubaydah, his military commander who was proposing an Egyptian-centered "Islamic Army". In a revised approach, bin Laden said the objective should be limited to the United States alone, not only in the Middle East but worldwide, to force the U.S. and its allies to reconsider its policy toward Islamic groups. He believed that the Jewish lobby controlled the United States, so defeating the United States policies toward the region would stop a long-term strategy of humiliating Muslim peoples and looting their lands. [3]

It cosigned the 1998 fatwa, issued by bin Laden and others, [4] calling for jihad against "Crusaders and Jews", and, specifically, Americans.

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.

Rahman withdrew agreement for the cease-fire in 2000.

Many members were amnestied in 2003, including Karam Zuhdi, who expressed regret that he worked with Egyptian Islamic Jihad to kill Anwar Sadat.


  1. Holly Fletcher (May 30, 2008), "Jamaat al-Islamiyya; Also known as: Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Al-Gama'at; Egyptian al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya; Islamic Gama'at; Islamic Group, Jama'a Islamia", Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder
  2. Terrorist Organization Profile: al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (GAI), National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism
  3. Michael Scheuer (2006), Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America (Revised edition ed.), Potomac Books, ISBN 1574889672, pp. 183-184
  4. Shaykh Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin; Ayman al-Zawahiri, amir of the Jihad Group in Egypt Abu-Yasir Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, Egyptian Islamic Group; Shaykh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan; Fazlur Rahman, amir of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh (23 February 1998), Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders; World Islamic Front Statement