In free Egypt, Jihad leader says time for gun is over

Discussion in 'Politics' started by olias, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. olias


    (Reuters) - Abboud al-Zumar went to jail 30 years ago for his role in killing Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Now a free man, he believes democracy will prevent Islamists from ever again taking up the gun against the state.

    Zumar was a prisoner for as long as Sadat's successor, Hosni Mubarak, was president.

    His release with other leading Islamists jailed for militancy is a sign of dramatic change in Egypt in the five weeks since Mubarak was swept from power by mass protests.

    Zumar, 64, was a founding member of the Islamic Jihad group which gunned down Sadat during a military parade in 1981. He was released along with his cousin, Tarek al-Zumar, who had also spent three decades in jail on similar charges.

    "The revolution created a new mechanism: the mechanism of strong, peaceful protests," said Zumar, released on March 12 and one of the political prisoners who owes his freedom to the peaceful revolt against Mubarak.

    "Public squares around the Arab world are ready to receive millions who can stop any ruler and expose him," added Zumar in an interview in his home village of Nahia on the rural outskirts of Cairo.

    To many Egyptians, Zumar's name evokes a violent chapter in the history of a country that has been an incubator for Islamist militancy.

    His release has alarmed those concerned by the Islamists' move to the heart of public life in the new Egypt, where groups including the Muslim Brotherhood are making the most of new freedoms to organize and speak out.

    Seeking to ease concerns, Zumar describes the Islamist movement as the "first line of defense" of Egyptian society. Islamists merely want to enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else in the new Egypt, he says.

    He was in prison with Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al Qaeda No. 2, who was released in 1984 and went on to assume the leadership of Islamic Jihad. Zawahiri's brother, Mohammed, was released on Thursday after spending a decade in jail.

    Zumar has not seen Ayman al-Zawahiri since 1984 but remembers him as a "man who loves his religion and justice."

    He supports what he described as Zawahiri's fight against foreign occupation across the Arab and Islamic world in Afghanistan and Iraq but opposes al Qaeda's attacks on civilians anywhere.

    A military intelligence officer at the time of the Sadat assassination, Zumar dismisses a story that he was its mastermind. He plays down the significance of his role, saying he merely supplied the ammunition.

    If Sadat had been in power in today's Egypt, Zumar says he could have been held to account by the judiciary. "There would have been a different mechanism of implementation," he said.


  2. Ricter


    I do not see how Egypt is "out of the woods". They have nothing new to sell, so they won't have more money to buy. Except, they are performing some redistribution now, but I do not believe that is going to put that much more money in the average Muhammad's wallet. Food prices are still rising. So average Egyptians have more political clout, but what can they actually do in terms of meeting more basic and urgent needs?