Islamist Egyptian MP calls for Zawahiri’s return

A member of the newly elected Egyptian parliament has called for al Qaeda’s emir to return to the country “with his head held high and safely.”

Aboud al Zomor, who served as the first emir of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and was later imprisoned for his role in President Anwar Sadat’s assassination, said that he welcomes Ayman al Zawahiri’s return to Egypt and that he would be given safe haven, according to a report published yesterday in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. The report was translated from Arabic by the Foundation For Defense of Democracies.

“When asked if he saw any danger in al Zawahiri’s return, al Zomor said that ‘he was not a threat to Egypt, the likes of al Zawahiri differed with the previous regime and they were only a danger for this regime and not for Egypt, and now he is liberating Afghanistan and Iraq…'” the report stated. Zomor also lamented that the US would be opposed to Zawahiri’s return to Egypt.

Zomor denied having direct contact with members of al Qaeda, and claims to have renounced violence.

“I’ve distanced myself from that currently because I took the political line and closed the page on the past, as a result of which doors to peaceful action opened for us,” he told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Zomor is one of the primary founders of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist group that merged with al Qaeda. Zawahiri succeeded Zomor as the group’s emir and presided over its merger with bin Laden’s terror group in the 1990s.

Zomor, who was freed along with his brother Tarek from prison in 2011 after serving more than 20 years for their role in assassinating Sadat, now leads the Building and Development Party, a Salafi Islamist political party that won 16 seats in Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections. His party is allied with Al Nour; together they make up the Islamist Bloc, which won 127 of the 498 seats. Both Zomor’s party and Al Nour call for sharia, or Islamic law. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which also calls for Islamic law, won 235 of the seats in parliament, giving Islamist parties 362 total seats. The newly elected parliament will appoint the committee to craft Egypt’s new constitution.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Swifty says:

    Al Qaeda spring?

  • Eric says:

    Zawahiri is the overall leader of of a global terror organization. When an elected official calls for his acceptance into Egypt, the remainder of Egypt’s government has an obligation to respond to the elected official’s statements. No state has the luxury of quietly ignoring the actions of its elected officials, as if they never happened. While it is plain to see that Zawahiri will never enjoy a legal sanctuary in Egypt, it is not OK for one of its members of parlaiment to openly endorse such a thing. Al Nour surely counts on their ability to intimidate people to silence any expression of outrage over Mr Zomor’s statements, and the Salafists believe they can get away with things like this on a regular basis. This will take Egypt down into “Ghetto Politics” right from the start of the new government. The west will revulse, and support for the Egyptian nation will erode. The fate of Egypt as a nation hangs on how this outrageous behavior by MP’s is dealt with, and here we will see what kind of resolve the new leaders really have to rebuild their nation. I am predicting they will miss the importance of this, do very little, and consign Egypt to Ghetto Politics and national poverty for the next 2 decades.

  • Paul Hirsch says:

    Lovely. Is the US still going ahead with the sale of an additional 125 M1A1 Abrams kits to Eqypt?

  • mike merlo says:

    Why am I not surprised! I’d actually like to see this happen just to see how the present Administration would handle ‘it!’

  • Stephanie says:

    Unfortunately, not surprising. I was actually kind of waiting for this to happen, since Ayman al Zawahiri’s MB brothers are in power now.
    My experience in Egypt has been that most Egyptians like Al Qaeda and think they are victims who are framed by Israel, and Ayman al Zawahiri is just a poor innocent doctor (who happens to have a gun).

  • James Cregg says:

    Perhaps, the demographic process will still the terroristic urge, but 125 tanks can be eliminated in one day by Israel…..they did it in 1973!

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Spengler thinks Egypt will run out of foreign exchange, and can only feed half the country with domestic agricultural production.
    Hard to send food aid to a country that is harboring the head of Al Qaeda.

  • joey says:

    The MP said:
    “I took the political line and closed the page on the past, as a result of which doors to peaceful action opened for us”
    And the violent option is therefore out of the question?
    I think not. Radical Islamist elements are seeing a real opportunity here and should they find themselves frustrated by more moderate, secular Arab parties, there may very well be a new jihadist wave.
    I also think that in some ways, the Arab spring may act as a petrie dish for all these pro-Caliphate groups to finally have their little dream-Islamic state fantasy played out. But in the long run, most Muslims are going to find themselves once again disagreeing with 7th century laws.
    If the US can stay safe and stay out of the Arab world, this may grind down jihadist causes.

  • Al says:

    M1-A1 tanks are not Russian junk machines! At least they could be on the other side of the canal. That ought to be a condition. If Egypt were to start moving numbers of tanks across, that could be a bad signal for Israel.

  • rainbow says:

    LOL the M1 Abrams is no T55.

  • Neo says:

    Coming from Aboud al Zomor, the statement isn’t surprising considering the direct ties between Jama’a al-Islamiya and al-Qaeda. Of the political parties he’s probably the nearest to Zawahiri in his views. There was some push back early last fall, when he first tried to register his organization as a party. I’m not sure on further details on how he finally did get his party registered.
    He’s on the most violent end of Egypt’s Islamist spectrum. Much of that spectrum has a common set of general goals and shares an open hostility toward the west. While Zawahiri may get a sympathetic response from many sectors there are many within the Islamist movement that doubt his methods and doubt his contention that the West will easily crumble. Zealous believers flying airliners into the sides of skyscrapers might be a grand gesture, but it has produced a counterproductive war that has done little to advance the cause of Islam. The west is far more vulnerable to its own fiscal policies, lack of oversight, and political stalemate, than fighting medium grade wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Huntingmoose says:

    Comparing 125 top of the line abrahams tanks with 125 old ruaty sovjet tanks is quite a stretch.
    In 1973 isreal could destroy thosemold rusty things but mthose modern Top of the line US tanks is a different story.

  • Return to Egypt from WHERE? Has he not been in prison in Egypt since his conviction? Article does not make clear where he was.

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    Those Abrams tanks are not built with chobham armor? Is this true?

  • HJM says:

    Sure….safe haven…..we’ll reach out and touch anyone who poses a threat to us no matter where they are but by all means, you invite him back and promise he’ll be safe.

  • Mr T says:

    The MP said:
    “I took the political line and closed the page on the past, as a result of which doors to peaceful action opened for us”
    Yes, I murdered many people but I am over that now, at least for today. I am now using peace as a way to accomplish the same thing because I am not strong enough to do it with violence. When I am strong enough again, I will consider more murder as a means to the end.
    Of course, the people he murdered are not over it yet. Shameful, he is now an elected official living the good life. And yet Muslims claim it is just a small minority of radicals causing all the problems. How does one get elected then?

  • blert says:

    Commenters here reveal that they are not aware of the Treaty’s provisions.
    Here are just some:
    1) An American battalion — at all times — is staged in the Sinai as a trip-wire peacekeeper.
    2) It is joined by various NATO and other nations… each deploying battalions. All of them stand at critical locations so that neither Egypt nor Israel can slip by unnoticed.
    3) That Egyptian tanks and APCs are PROHIBITED east of the Suez Canal. They may only deploy with Israeli permission.
    4) If heavy military assets ARE deployed by Egypt into the Sinai the Treaty is void… and it’s a green light for Israeli counter invasion.

    The M1 tanks owned and operated by the Egyptian Army still receive their support from the US Army. It would be cut off, pronto, in the event of hostilities.
    The two areas that Egypt could invade would be Libya and Sudan. The rationale for building up Egypt was the staggeringly huge Libyan tank force. It is now in ruins.
    Sudan does not have a serious tank army. So any further tank shipments to Egypt are a staggering waste. The money needs to be vectored over to food imports.

  • Javier says:

    Comparing 125 top of the line abrahams tanks with 125 old rusty soviet tanks is quite a stretch.
    In 1973 isreal could destroy those mold rusty things but those modern Top of the line US tanks is a different story.

    That doesn’t mean the top of the line Abraham tanks are invincible. Of course, the Abraham tanks could withstand the 1970s-era weapons, but Israel’s contemporary arsenal can inflict devastating damage against those tanks.


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