Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Faces Competition From "Repentant Jihadists"


According to a report carried in an Egyptian newspaper, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood faces competition from an unexpected quarter, former members of JIhadist groups such as the Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya. According to the report:

Repentant jihadists – former Islamic militants who won release from prison by explicitly renouncing violence and other extremist ideas – have become a topic of political debate in Egypt. The former jihadists provoke varying reactions, most of them negative. The regime, which engineered their re-education, continues to deal with them strictly as a security threat and has prevented them from resuming political activities. Some groups question the sincerity of the jihadists’ transformation and refuse to take them seriously. Other Islamist forces, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, view the repentant jihadists as potential competitors capable of contesting their claim to moderate Islamism. Overall, jihadists who have repented since the regime broke the back of their movement in 1997 have faced an unwelcoming political environment. Exactly how many Egyptian jihadist prisoners have repented, and to which movements they belonged, remains unknown. Estimates range from 20,000 to 30,000, a majority of whom (some 12,000) are members of Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Group, the militant organization that perpetrated much of the Islamist violence of the 1980s and 1990s. The remainder are members of smaller groups, mostly Al-Jihad, or are independent jihadists espousing Salafist ideologies.

Following a discussion of the role of Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya, the report concludes that it is unlikely that these “repentant jihadists will return to violence.

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