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aka al-Gama’at; Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya; GI; Islamic Gama’at; IG; Islamic Group
Description: Gama’a al-Islamiyya (IG) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. Once Egypt’s largest militant group, IG was active in the late 1970s, but is now a loosely organized network. It formed the Building and Development political party that competed in the 2011 parliamentary elections, winning 13 seats. Egypt-based members of IG released from prison prior to the revolution have renounced terrorism, though some members located overseas have worked with or joined al-Qa’ida (AQ). Hundreds of members who may not have renounced violence were released from prison in 2011. The external wing, composed of mainly exiled members in several countries, maintained that its primary goal was to replace the Egyptian government with an Islamic state. IG’s “spiritual” leader, the “blind Sheikh,” Umar Abd al-Rahman, is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Supporters of al-Rahman have called for reprisal attacks in the event of his death in prison.
Activities: In the 1990s, IG conducted armed attacks against Egyptian security, other government officials, and Coptic Christians. IG claimed responsibility for the June 1995 assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group also launched attacks on tourists in Egypt, most notably the 1997 Luxor attack. In 1999, part of the group publicly renounced violence.
Strength: At its peak, IG likely commanded several thousand core members and a similar number of supporters. Security crackdowns following the 1997 attack in Luxor and the 1999 cease-fire, along with post-September 11 security measures and defections to AQ, have probably resulted in a substantial decrease in what is left of an organized group.
Location/Area of Operation: The IG maintained an external presence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iran, the UK, Germany, and France. The IG terrorist presence in Egypt was minimal due to the reconciliation efforts of former local members.
Funding and External Aid: Unknown