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Al Qaeda-Linked Jihadists Incited Cairo Protest

12:25 PM, Oct 26, 2012 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Ominously, while attempting to downplay his role in al Qaeda’s 1998 fatwa, Musa added: “As for the United States, we treat it as an enemy, and we do not consider it a friend of the Arabs and Muslims.”

As for al Qaeda, Musa admitted his organization has had a relationship with the group. “Yes, there was a relationship between al Qaeda and the Islamic Group, but it was not in the form of a common organizational framework,” Musa claimed. “It was similar to a relationship between any two political parties. There were exchanged benefits.” 

Those benefits include collusion on terrorist plots. Asharq Al-Awsat asked Musa about his role in the 1995 assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Ethiopia. Musa did not deny having a role in the plot, saying only that the “Islamic Group attempted to assassinate Mubarak in many locations, including Addis Ababa” and the “arrangements for this operation were made (by Islamist leaders) abroad.” 

Osama bin Laden himself had a hand in the IG’s 1995 assassination plot. The 9/11 Commission found that Mubarak’s “would-be killers, who came from the Egyptian Islamic Group, had been sheltered in Sudan and helped by Bin Laden.”

State Department Warning in 2002

The State Department has previously warned that Musa and his followers are a threat. While some Gamaa Islamiyya (IG) leaders made revisions to their ideology while in prison, thereby allowing them to take part in the political process, Musa has rejected such efforts.

In the State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2001, the U.S. government reported that Musa led a “faction” of the IG that remained committed to violence. While the group’s “[p]rimary goal is to overthrow the Egyptian Government and replace it with an Islamic state,” Foggy Bottom reported, “disaffected IG members, such as those potentially inspired by Taha Musa or [Sheikh Rahman], may be interested in carrying out attacks against U.S. and Israeli interests.”

That report was published in May 2002.

More than one decade later, Musa helped incite protesters outside the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

While much attention has been given to an anti-Islam film few had heard of until September, much less has been written about the well-known al Qaeda-linked jihadists who used that film to incite a large-scale anti-American protest. 

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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