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Egyptian Muslim militants vow to overthrow state

Egyptian Muslim militants vow to overthrow state

A leading Egyptian Muslim militant group said on Sunday it was still committed to overthrowing the government as a means of "liberating Palestine".

The declaration came three years after Jihad, Egypt's second biggest Muslim militant group, put its armed struggle on hold.

"The Jihad (holy struggle) group still rejects rapprochement or bargaining with the Egyptian...regime, which is a puppet of America and Israel.

"It believes that struggling against and overthrowing it (the government) is a duty for all Muslims in Egypt," the Jihad said in an editorial for its first web-based magazine al-Mujahedoon (holy warriors).

A copy of the editorial, which has yet to be published on the Internet, was sent to Reuters on Sunday.

About 1,200 people, mostly militants and police, were killed in a violent campaign from 1992-97 led by Jihad and the al-Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic group) - Egypt's largest Muslim militant organisation.

The armed struggle stopped after Gama'a members massacred 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians in the southern resort of Luxor in November 1997. The Gama'a adopted a truce in 1999, but Jihad never officially said it was laying down its arms.

The editorial marked the first time that the Jihad group commented on its policy in three years.

"The Jihad believes setting up a Muslim state in the heart of the Islamic world is the way towards liberating Muslims' occupied lands and expelling the forces of Islam's enemies, which occupy Palestine, Egypt, the Arab peninsula, the Red Sea and Arab Gulf and surround Islamic sacred places in al-Quds (Jerusalem), Mecca and Medina (in Saudi Arabia)," it said.

Analysts said the statements reflected frustration by Muslim militants after the failure of peacemaking in the Middle East.

"The statements are directed against the role of (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak in the negotiations and the failure of these negotiations," said Olivier Roy, a specialist on political Islam at the Paris-based National Centre for Scientific Research.

Diaa Rachwan, researcher at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Reuters the tone used in the editorial indicated the new magazine might be the mouthpiece of an anti-truce splinter group from the main Jihad.


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