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Al Jama’a Al-Islamiya

DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackOctober 6, 1981: Al Jama'a was indirectly involved in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. Several operatives have expressed their regret for the involvement in the attack, though it was carried out directly by Egyptian Islamic Jihad members.
Last Attack2003: Al Jama'a denounced terror in early 2003, leading to the release of more than 1,000 Egyptian prisoners.
UpdatedAugust 1, 2012

Narrative Summary

Beginning as a student organization in the early 1970s, the group's influence began to grow in 1973 and continued through the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. Now considered a FTO by the US Department of State and European Union, al-Jama' al-Islamiya is one of the most violent militia groups in the Middle East and North Africa. The group is suspected to have been directly involved with the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. The organization is responsible for the death of more than 1,200 individuals during their terror campaign from 1992-1997, including the head of counter-terrorism police in Egypt, as well as the speaker of Parliament.

Al-Jama'a grew as an umbrella group for other organizations, such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, following the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to renounce violence in 1970.[1] The movement began to grow on campuses, becoming extremely intertwined in the political proceedings of student groups on campuses around Egypt in opposition to Sadat's political platform, strongly outnumbering leftist groups and organizations. Over the next couple of years, al-Jama'a became increasingly at odds with other groups by pushing their far-right interpretations of Islam across Egypt. Several feuds erupted between al-Jama'a and rival organizations, leading to a police crackdown on protest violence in early 1981.[2]

The 1990s brought a terror campaign from al-Jama'a, attacking thousands of people and murdering prominent writers, intellectuals, and political figures. The violence had a heavy toll on the country's biggest source of economic stimulation at this time: tourism. 1995 brought relations between the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Jama'a to the forefront, largely in an effort to combat the police crackdown more violently and conclusively.

The group renounced bloodshed in 2003, and has since seen cooperation from the Egyptian government in releasing former prisoners as a show of good faith.

The group's official motto is: "Fight them on until there is no more Tumult, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression."


  1. Omar Abdel-Rahman (Unknown to Present): Known as the "Blind Sheikh", Abdel-Rahman is the spiritual leader of al-Jama'a. The group actively campaigns for his release from prison in the United States.
  2. Ala Mohieddin (Unknown to 1991): Leader of al-Jama'a al-Islamiya until his death in 1991, presumedly by Egyptian Police.[3]
  3. Karam Zuhdi (1970 to Present): One of the founders of al-Jama'a, Zuhdi was imprisoned following the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat in 1981. He was released in 2003, and continues to be the active leader of al-Jama'a[4]

Ideology & Goals



The majority of support for al-Jama'a comes from the supporters of their right-wing political movement, through donations and support of college faculty members in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as militant supporters since 1992. Al-Jama'a has received financial assistance and worked with al-Qaeda since 2006. Since the formation of their political party in 2011, donations to the party have also funded activity.

Geographical Locations

The U.S. State Department states that "the IG (Gama'a Islamiyah) also maintained an external presence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. IG terrorist presence in Egypt was minimal due to the reconciliation efforts of former local members."[5]

Targets & Tactics

The group utilizes murders and assassinations, as well as suicide bombings, to further their cause of establishing and independent Egyptian Islamic state. Targets include prominent Egyptian writers, philosophers, and politicians, as well as civilians and foreign tourists.

Political Activities

The organization renounced bloodshed in 2003, and has seen cooperation from the Egyptian government as a result of their laying down of arms. Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the group formed the Building and Development Party, which won 13 seats in the 2011-2012 elections.

Major Attacks

  1. June 8, 1992: 2 Al-Jama'ah extremists assassinate Farag Foda, an influential philosopher and activist in Egypt, in his office. (1 killed, 2 injured).
  2. June 26, 1995: Attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia. Osama bin Laden is accused of aiding in the planning and authorization of the attack. ().[6]
  3. October 20, 1995: A car bomb detonated outside of the Rijeka police station in Croatia in response to the capture and transfer of a militant leader from Croatia to prison in Egypt. The attack was considered retaliation for the imprisonment. (1 killed, 29 injured).[7]
  4. April 28, 1996: 4 gunmen killed a group of Greek tourists, whom they had mistaken for Israeli nationals. The attack was claimed in retaliation for the Israeli attacks in Southern Lebanon (18 killed, 17 injured.).[8]
  5. November 18, 1997: Militants opened fire on tourists at the Temple of Hatsheut, in Luxor. It was the largest attack against tourists in Egypt to date. (71 killed).[9]

Relationships with Other Groups

al-Jama'a al-Islamiya has extensive relations with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, dating back to the groups' foundations in after the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in Egypt during the 1970s. Al-Jama'a was founded as an umbrella group for what became EIJ, which emerged as a politically active student group in the 1970s and turned to violence in the early 1980s. The two groups worked together in the assassination of Anwar al-Sadat in 1981.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, former leader of EIJ, announced in a 2006 video message that factions of al-Jama'a had aligned with al-Qaeda, praising their efforts in Egypt.[10] Though the two groups are aligned, there are some factions of al-Jama'a who deny the relationship.


  1. ^ Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt; the Prophet and Pharoh. 1984. p.129
  2. ^ Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt; the Prophet and Pharoh. 1984. p.166
  3. ^ Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals", 2008. p. 113.
  4. ^ "Egyptian Radical Islamists." Global Jihad. May 29, 2009. Accessed August 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "Country Reports on Terrorism 2011." U.S. Department of State. 2011. Accessed August 2, 2012.
  6. ^ Accessed August 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Islamic Group Hits Croatia". Reuters. New York Times. October 22, 2012. Accessed August 1, 2012.
  8. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | Egypt: Information on the Islamic Fundamentalist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya". UNHCR.,USCIS,,EGY,3df09ec64,0.html. Accessed August 1, 2012.
  9. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld | Egypt: Information on the Islamic Fundamentalist group al-Gama'a al-Islamiya". UNHCR.,USCIS,,EGY,3df09ec64,0.html. Accessed August 1, 2012.
  10. ^ "Al-Zawahiri: Egyptian Militant Group joins al-Qaeda." August 5, 2006. Accessed August 3, 2012.

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