Repentant extremists to be released

Jonathan Spollen
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Up to 300 former members of Islamic Jihad are set to be released from prison over the coming weeks.

According to press reports, a number of the organization’s leadership are among those to be freed by the Ministry of Interior, including Osama El-Sayyed Kassem.

Some, like one time ‘Emir’ of the organization Abdel-Raouf, have already been released, a report said.

This development comes just weeks 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 militants from organizations like Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad, who have undergone such revisions from their jail cells.

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.

The former leader of the ‘Al-Nagoun min Al-Nar’ (Delivered from Hell) organization, Magdy Zenhom Al-Safty, is the latest imprisoned militant to renounce violence as a means of achieving political goals.

Although some have dismissed these revisions as insincere, and as merely a means to secure an early release, many more welcome the news.

“Of course some people will be suspicious of what they are saying, Islamist lawyer, Montassar Al-Zayat told Daily News Egypt. “But many of [these men] have put a lot of work into writing books and doing religious research.

“What’s more, they are having an influence on other prisoners. More and more are renouncing violence.

Diaa Rashwan of the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, agrees with Al-Zayat, and points to the example of Gamaa Al-Islamiya.

“Since they have renounced violence they have not committed a single act of terrorism, he told Daily News Egypt.

“This was, officially speaking, one of the largest Jihad organizations in the world. They have held to their word, and I expect Islamic Jihad will too. -additional reporting by Khadiga Samir

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