CAIRO: The former leader of the Al-Nagoun min Al-Nar (Delivered from Hell) organization, Magdy Zenhom Al-Safty, is the latest imprisoned insurgent to renounce violence as a means of achieving political goals.
According to a statement received by Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper earlier this week, Al-Safty “welcomed the end of all military operations and violence in general.
“It is high time for man to stop and reconsider his previous stances, the statement read. “I have always called for prayers and good morals.
This development comes just days after the founder of Islamic Jihad, Sayed Imam Abdul-Aziz El-Sherif, announced that he is currently writing a 100-page volume that – quoting verses from the Quran – makes theological arguments against the use of violence.
In recent years, the government has released thousands of former insurgents from organizations like Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad, who have undergone such transformations during their detainments.
Most recently, 130 former members of Islamic Jihad were released from prison in June. Up to 5,000 inmates are expected to be released following the publication of El-Sherif’s work, including El-Sherif himself.
Such renunciations of violence are an “extremely positive development, Diaa Rashwan of the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies previously told Daily News Egypt.
“They are a major blow to [Al-Qaeda] because they come from the inside, not from the US or Britain, he added.
Both El-Safty’s and El-Sherif’s repudiations are the product of a government-led counter-radicalization program, which has “rehabilitated countless former Islamist extremists.
Imprisoned former members of organizations like Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad are encouraged to author written refutations of violence, and are allowed to meet with one another in prison to this end.
Twenty-five volumes have been written by one-time leaders of Gamaa Al-Islamiya, reviling attacks on civilians and foreign tourists; and waging jihad against Muslim rulers who do not apply Sharia.
Yet some, like Gamal Al Banna – Islamic thinker and brother of the late Hassan Al Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood – believe that to prevent people taking up arms once and for all, issues like poverty, oppression and corruption must be dealt with.
“Only real freedom will bring about real change, he told Daily News Egypt.
As El-Safty said in his statement, “When I resorted to arms one day, this was due to certain circumstances and pressures attributed to my age at the time and my surrounding conditions.
Egyptian security discovered Al Nagoun min Al-Nar in 1987 after the group carried out a failed assassination attempt on the editor of Al Hilal newspaper, Makram Mohamed Ahmed.
The organization has also failed in attempts to assassinate former Interior Ministers Hassan Abu Basha and El Nabawi Ismail.
The Ministry of Interior was unavailable for comment.