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catanzaro - thesis-1

catanzaro - thesis-1

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Published by Sarah Catanzaro

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Published by: Sarah Catanzaro on Mar 24, 2011
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In 1999, the group’s historic leadership declared a unilateral ceasefire. Even Al-Rahman,

who remained the group’s spiritual leader, agreed to this measure. The GAI has not conducted a

terrorist attack either inside or outside Egypt since August 1998. In 2002, the leadership issued a

statement reaffirming its commitment to end violence. Karam Zuhdi, a self-proclaimed leader of

the underground group, even said the GAI owes the Egyptian people "an apology for the crimes

which [the group] has committed against Egypt. We are even thinking of paying blood money to

the victims” (Halawi 2002).

Since this time, the historic leadership of the GAI has published a series of books, known

as the “Concept Correction Series” in which they renounce indiscriminate violence and extremist

interpretations of Islam. Nevertheless, despite their proclamations in favor of non-violence, in

August 2006, Ayman al-Zawahiri, by then the closest associate of Osama bin Laden, announced

that the GAI had merged with Al Qa’ida. GAI leadership in Egypt quickly rejected this claim.

During his interview with Asharq al-Awsat, Dr. Nageh Ibrahim, a senior leader and chief

ideological theorist for the GAI, stressed that significant differences in philosophy exist between

the GAI and Al Qa’ida. “Their aim is jihad, and our aim is Islam," he maintained. In doing so,

Ibrahim challenged Al Qa’ida’s Islamic credentials by emphasizing its dependence on violent

struggle as a means to further its goals and suggested that Al Qa’ida was propagating a false

definition of jihad. He asserted that Al Qa’ida’s aggressive tactics have failed Muslims. Since

this time, despite widespread skepticism in Egypt and abroad about the nature of its true


intentions, the GAI has concentrated its efforts on revising its former extremist worldview and

distinguishing itself from Qa’ida (Zambelis 2006).

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