The Building and Development Party, the political wing of the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, called on the United States government to release its spiritual leader Omar Abdel Rahman from prison and to remove the group from the Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO) list.
In a press conference held on Sunday, Khaled Al-Sharif, spokesman for the party, asserted that the Building and Development Party does not oppose the West. He also demanded that the Abdel Rahman be released and that the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya be removed from the FTO list.
The Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya was placed on the US FTO list in 1997 following years of armed insurgency against the Egyptian government. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in the 1990s. In 2003 the leaders of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya renounced violence, which prompted the release of many of the group’s imprisoned members. Despite this the group has remained on the FTO list and was also included on a 2005 update of the European Union list of terror organisations.
Abdel Rahman, also known as ‘the blind sheikh’, is currently serving a life sentence in the US in connection to the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York.