Bin Laden death will not affect al-Qaeda: Egypt Jihad leader

AFP, Tuesday 3 May 2011

Egypt's Aboud El-Zumur says Bin Laden's death "will solve nothing"

A founding member of Egypt's Islamic Jihad and friend of Al-Qaeda's new chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri told AFP Tuesday that Osama bin Laden's death will not affect the organisation and pleaded against revenge attacks.

Aboud al-Zumur, who was in jail with Zawahiri after the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981, said bin Laden was a "martyr" whose death at the hands of US special forces in Pakistan "will solve nothing."

"Al-Qaeda is not a person, it is an institution," said Zumur, who was freed from prison after a popular revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.

"Solving the problem entails withdrawing from occupied territories and a balance in US policy towards Palestine."

Zumur said the mass protests that toppled the regimes in both Tunisia and Egypt had sapped support for militant groups because they showed there was another way to confront tyrants.

"They have created a new mechanism to hold regimes accountable," he said. "This has lessened the support and importance of armed struggle."

Speaking in Cairo, Zumur pleaded with bin Laden's sympathisers not to take revenge for the jihadist leader's assassination.

"I say to them, be patient. Don't seek revenge. If you attack tourists or embassies, you will be attacking innocents."

The US State Department issued a warning to its citizens abroad after bin Laden's death.

Zumur said that Zawahiri, the 59-year-old surgeon and former Islamic Jihad member who has long been considered the real mastermind in Al-Qaeda's war against the United States and Arab regimes, was a "good-hearted" man.

"He is a dear friend of mine. We were imprisoned together for three years. He is a good man -- good-hearted -- who has been placed in difficult circumstances," he said.

Zumur was one of the last Islamic Jihad members released from prison after the military took power following Mubarak's resignation.

Zawahiri's brother Mohammed, who has been sentenced to death, was released in March, only to be re-arrested just days later. The military gave no explanation as to why he was set free and then jailed again.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the United State's most wanted man, was jailed for three years in Egypt for militancy and was implicated in Sadat's assassination and a 1997 massacre of tourists in Luxor.

Facing a death sentence, he left Egypt in the mid-1980s initially for Saudi Arabia, but soon headed for Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar where the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based, and then to Afghanistan, where he joined forces with bin Laden.

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