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Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya

From Academic Kids

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Arabic for "the Islamic Group"; also transliterated Gamaat Islamiya, Jamaat al Islamiya, etc.) is radical Islamist Egyptian terrorist group dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government and its replacement with an Islamic state.

The group claims the blind cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman as is its pre-eminent spiritual leader. He was accused of conspiring in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and the group has publicly threatened to retaliate against the United States for his conviction and life-sentence in a later conspiracy to bomb New York landmarks including the United Nations and FBI offices.

Attacks

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya was responsible for:

It was also responsible for a spate of tourist shootings (trains and cruise ships sprayed with bullets) in middle and lower Egypt during the early 1990s. Partly as a result of those attacks, cruise ships ceased sailing between Cairo and Luxor.

History

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya began as an umbrella organization for militant student groups, formed, like the Islamic Jihad, after the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s.

In its early days, the group was primarily active on university campuses, and was mainly composed of university students. Its membership has since become poorer, younger, and less well educated; its base of recruiting and support has moved away from universities to poor neighborhoods of cities, and to rural areas.

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya may have been indirectly involved in the assassination of president Anwar Sadat in 1981 and was implicated in a failed attempt on president Hosni Mubarak in the 1990s.

The 1990s saw Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya spiral into increasingly irrational and ultimately self-defeating violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners, who are an important part of the Egyptian economy, and thus of the livelihoods of the people on whom the group depends upon for support.

The 1991 murder of the group's leader, Ala Mohieddin, presumably by security forces, led Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya to murder the speaker of parliament in retaliation. That, in turn, caused a major government crackdown, and the further radicalization of the group.

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya militants carried out the November 17, 1997 attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir el-Bahri) in Luxor, in which a band of six men machine-gunned and hacked to death with knives 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians. The attack stunned Egyptian society, ruined the tourist industry for a number of years, and consequently sapped popular support for violent Islamism in Egypt.

While the combination of harsh government measures and self-defeating violence have not eliminated Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, they have reduced the group's profile in recent years.

External links

See: List of terrorist organizations

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