10 Egyptian Islamist parties under investigation for alleged involvement in terrorist activity

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 9 Aug 2017

Egypt's Political Parties Committee says it has filed lawsuits to dissolve 10 Islamist parties accused of inciting violence and funding terrorism. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Tarek El-Zommor
A file photo of Tarek El-Zommor of the under-investigation Reconstruction and Development Party (Photo:Reuters)

Adel El-Shorbagy, the head of the Party Affairs Committee, which regulates political parties in Egypt, told reporters this week that the committee is currently investigating 10 Islamist parties.

"The investigation encompasses participation in terrorist attacks, forming underground armed militias, inciting violence, and funding terrorism," said El-Shorbagy.

El-Shorbagy's comments came after Egypt's Higher Administrative Court postponed on Sunday its ruling on the legal status of the Reconstruction and Development Party – which acts as the political arm of the Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya – to 19 August.

The lawsuit, filed by the Party Affairs Committee, said the existence of the Reconstruction and Development Party violates Article 74 of the constitution, which bans religious political parties.

The State Cases Authority (SCA), acting on behalf of the Party Affairs Committee, said a "detailed dossier on the Reconstruction and Development Party's involvement in terrorist operations since 2011 will be submitted to the court."

"The dossier is supported by the National Security Agency and Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek. Both agree that the Reconstruction and Development Party now functions as a religious party and as such should be dissolved in line with Article 74 of the constitution and Article 4 of the political parties law," the SCA said.

The SCA also revealed that it has asked the Reconstruction and Development Party to provide it with a complete list of party members and official websites.

"We also asked if any members were dismissed from the party's ranks after they were convicted of participating in terrorist attacks and inciting violence," said the SCA.

Lawyers representing the party say they have forwarded 10 dossiers containing the party's official statements on terrorism to the Higher Administrative Court. The statements, they said, show the party fully supports the government in its war against terrorism.

Political analysts agree that the Party Affairs Committee's decision to challenge the legal status of the Reconstruction and Development Party came following the 5 June decision by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar.

On 8 June, the four countries issued a list of 59 terror suspects, including the leader of the Reconstruction and Development Party Tarek El-Zommor, who they accuse Qatar of sheltering.

Egypt is demanding that Qatar hand over El-Zommor along with other Egyptian fugitives affiliated with Islamist parties such as Youssef El-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood.

El-Zommor, 56, was imprisoned for his role in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat during a military parade in Cairo.

El-Zommor's brother Abboud, a former intelligence officer, was the mastermind behind the assassination.

After spending three decades in Egyptian prison, Al-Zommor was released after the removal of the Mubarak regime in February 2011.

Al-Zommor and other Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leaders fled to Qatar in July 2013 after a popular uprising led to the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

El-Zommor's position as the leader of the Reconstruction and Development Party has caused divisions within the party, pitting younger members against the old guard, which continues its support for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

El-Zommor was tried in absentia and convicted of inciting violence and masterminding a number of terrorist operations in Egypt.

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