Sunday, November 14, 2004

Egypt: 700 Islamist prisoners released

Egypt has released from prison in recent days 700 members of the al-Gama'a al-Islamiya, an Islamist group that fought the government in the 1990s but which has since renounced violence, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The daily Al Masry Al Youm said the prisoners had been serving jail sentences between five and 10 years. It did not say how much time they had served.

An Interior Ministry official had no immediate comment on the reported releases.

Al-Gama'a fought the Egyptian authorities in the 1990s in an effort to form a strict Islamic state.

Egypt last year released 400 al-Gama'a members from jail, including leading member Karam Zuhdi, who spent 20 years in jail for his involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

[...] The prisoners were released before Sunday, the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"It had been decided to release this group before Ramadan, but the Taba terrorist bombings delayed their release," the source said, adding that those freed included middle-ranking leaders of the group.

Taba and two beach camps on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula were attacked on Oct. 7, killing at least 33 people. The Egyptian government said a Palestinian driver intent on killing Israelis masterminded the blasts. (source)
See this story for more about Zudhi's release ...

More background on al-Gama'a al-Islamiya here (note that the page doesn't appear to have been updated recently ... eg. Zudhi is still listed as being in prison) ....

There are a number of ways to spell al-Gama'a al-Islamiya ... variations can be found here.