Gama’a Islamiyaa has released a statement thanking President Mohamed Morsy for the release of 12 of their members from prison Saturday night. The members of the Islamic group are just some of 572 prisoners who have been granted clemency by the president in honour of the holy month of Ramadan in response to the claim that many of their trials were unjust.
The statement also said that two or three members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad were released on Saturday.
Dr Amr Bakr, a researcher in the affairs of Islamic movements at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that information has been leaked that the release was decided before the presidential election as part of a deal to ensure support from groups affiliated with those in prison.
However, Bakr pointed out that, “Many of the people on the street do not recognise these names because they have been in prison for so long.”
Hassan Khalifa, who captured the media attention when he was sentenced to death after being paralysed by security forces after alleged terrorist activity in Assyut, is amongst those being released from prison, according to Bakr.
The staff at No Military Trials is in the process of comparing lists of prisoners with the list of names slated for pardon.
However, no other information accompanies the pardoned names, so numerous organisations are scrambling to discover the identities of those granted clemency.
Some web sources have offered lists of names of prisoners who belonged to Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Gama’a Islamayya, however, the Daily News Egypt is unable to confirm if these are the individuals who were in fact freed.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Gama’a Islamiyya were two of the driving forces behind the plot and execution of then president
Anwar Sadat’s assassination. The groups also carried out other attacks on the Egyptian state and symbols of the west in an effort to create an Islamic State in Egypt.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad has been largely absent from the domestic scene due to a comprehensive crackdown in the 1990s and the migration of many of their members to fight overseas. According to the US Council on Foreign Relations, Egyptian Islamic Jihad has mostly been merged into Al-Qaeda, including former leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri who has led Al-Qaeda since Osama bin-Laden was killed.
Gama’a Islamiyaa renounced violence in 2003 and was rewarded with the release of imprisoned members by the Mubarak government. The group has gone on to form a political party called the Building and Development Party. While still listed as a “foreign terrorist organisation” by the US State Department, Gama’a Islamiyaa’s political party won 13 seats in last year’s elections, mostly in Upper Egypt. They also have one seat in the Constituent Assembly.