Egypt frees 130 Islamic Jihad members from jail

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CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have released 130 members of Islamic Jihad, including a provincial leader, after they signed pledges of non-violence, security officials said on Monday.

The freed prisoners are all members who had been convicted of participating in terrorist and anti-government activity. Many of them had been held without charge after their prison terms expired.

Those released included Ahmed Youssef, a provincial Islamic Jihad leader from Beni Suef, south of Cairo in central Egypt, the officials said.

They said the prisoners were set free on Saturday and Sunday, and had all signed pledges to refrain from violence, although the security sources did not say when that happened. Egypt has released hundreds of Jihad members since 2006 in a series of batches, a security source said.

In November 2005, Egyptian authorities also released a group of 150 on similar conditions, most of them members of a separate Egyptian Islamist group, Al-Gama a Al-Islamiya.

Jihad and Al-Gama a Al-Islamiya lost a bloody 1992-7 campaign to topple President Hosni Mubarak and set up a purist Islamic state. Earlier, in 1981, an insurgent shot dead Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

After Egyptian security forces dealt with the revolt, many Jihad members were jailed, and the group is not believed to have carried out any attacks since the mid-1990s.

Security sources were unable to say how many Islamists from either group are still in prison.

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By Reuters
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