Schlagwort-Archive: Cairo

Ayman az-Zawahiri´s Brother Released From Prison

by Florian Flade

Muhammad az-Zawahiri – Brother of Al-Qaida´s No.2

In the mid 1960s, Ayman az-Zawahiri and his younger brother Muhammad once walked home from morning prayers in the Cairo neighborhood of Maadi. A car stopped next to the young boys. It was the car of Hussain al-Shaffay, Egypt´s Vice-President and former judge responsible for the death sentences of numerous Islamists in the 1954 trials. Al-Shaffay offered the Az-Zawahiri brothers to drive them home. The boys rarely had the opportunity to ride in a car. Somehow Ayman az-Zawahiri immediately knew who the man in the car was. He knew about the round-up of Islamists in the 1950s and the regimes´brutal oppression of Islamic opposition.

„We don’t want to get a ride from a man who participated in the courts that killed Muslims“, Zawahiri responded to Al-Shaffay´s offer.

Fifteen years later, Ayman az-Zawahiri became one of the most popular Islamists in the country, a firebrand student and member of the Al-Jihad Group. His younger brother Muhammad also joined the Islamist movement of the 1970s, even rose to the position of the group´s military leader.

Muhammad az-Zawahiri studied architecture. In 1981 he – as well as dozens of other Egyptian Islamists – was indicted in absentia for the assassination of President Anwar Sadat. At that time Muhammad az-Zawahiri worked as an architect in the Holy City of Medina in Saudi-Arabia. His brother Ayman also moved to the Saudi Kingdom in 1985 to work as a doctor in the Ibn al-Nafis Hospital in Jiddah. In addition he began work for an Islamic Relief Organization, traveling to Asia and Europe in order to help building hospitals.

In the early 1990s Muhammad Zawahiri founded a Al-Jihad Cell in the Albanian capital of Tirana before moving with his wife and six children to Yemen. On a trip to Khartoum (Sudan), Muhammad Zawahiri met with his brother Ayman who had then started to work with Arab Mujahidin which had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan.

While Ayman Zawahiri decided to closely ally the Egyptian Al-Jihad with the Arab Mujahidin groups associated with Osama Bin Laden, Muhammad Zawahiri broke off and went back to Yemen, leaving Al-Jihad in 1998.

In July 1998, CIA agents and their Albanian allies stepped in against the Al-Jihad members in Tirana, arresting five Egyptian militants and sending them back to Egypt were they were interrogated and tortured, resulting in a 20,000-pages confession which led to the Egyptian courts to sentence the two Zawahiri brothers to death in absentia.

Muhammad az-Zawahiri, who resided in Yemen, traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regularly for business. On one of these trips in April 1999, he was arrested and extradited to Egypt. Az-Zawahiri´s wife who contacted the Egyptian embassy in Yemeni capital Sanaa, was told in October 1999 she was allowed to return to Egypt, where her husband was imprisoned.

Years have past without any word about Muhammad az-Zawahiri´s whereabouts. A Egyptian newspaper reported in February 2004, the younger brother of al-Qaida´s No.2 man, was being held at Liman Tora Prison, south of Cairo. Egypt´s Interior Ministry confirmed the report the following month. Allegedly Muhammad az-Zawahiri faced torture and brutal interrogation for years.

Yesterday Jihadi Online Forums announced the release of „Sheikh Muhammad az-Zawahiri“. A video was then posted on several websites apparently showing the 57-year old leaving prison. A security source told the media on Thursday that the release of az-Zawahiri was a decision of the military junta that runs the country since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, who ordered the release of 59 detainees, most of them members of opposition groups.

American Omar Hammami Killed in Somalia?

by Florian Flade

Omar Hammami is the American face of the Somali Jihad. He was featured in various propaganda videos from the region and called other Americans to join the Islamist Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahidin Movement. Now rumors of his death are spreading after the latest government military offensive against Al-Shabaab.

Omar Hammami aka „Abu Mansour al-Amrikki“

Charismatic militants, Western Jihadis who left the safety of their homeland to fight alongside Islamist groups, are by far the most powerful recruiting tool of al-Qaida today. Especially American citizens, born and raised in a country whom the terrorist have declared their main enemy, are used by al-Qaida to promote propaganda and regional conflicts.

One of those recruiting and propaganda tools is Omar Hammami of Daphne, Alabamda. The 26 year-old American citizen, a son of a Syrian father and an American Christian mother, is the American face of the Jihad in Somalia. Hammami became a fundamentalist Salafi Muslim in college and dropped out of school later. In 2004 he moved to Canada and married a Canadian Somali woman. The following year, in June 2005, the couple moved to Egypt and settled first in Alexandria, then in Cairo, where their daughter was born. Hammami told is parents he wants to study at Cairo´s Al-Azhar University.

In November 2006 Hammami traveled from Egypt to Somalia to visit members of his wife´s family. According to his father, Omar Hammami´s passport was stolen and he then stranded in Somalia. Eventually he stayed in the country and somehow joined the militant Al-Shabaab Movement in their fight against Ethiopian troops who had invaded Somalia back then. Al-Jazeera interviewed the American Jihadi in October 2007 in the Somali bush. Hammami was dressed in a military uniform, hiding his face under a scraf wrapped around his head. He called himself „Abu Mansour the American“.

Al-Shabaab – which allied itself with al-Qaida by swearing the oath to Osama Bin Laden – began using the White American Jihadi for propaganda means and even produced a video featuring mainly Omar Hammami in Spring 2009. „The only reason we are staying here, away from our families, away from the cities, away from candy bars…all these other things is because we are waiting to meet with the enemy“, Hammami said in the propaganda tape in which he also presents an English rap song about Jihad.

„From Somalia and Shishan (Chechnya), from Iraq and Afghanistan, gonna meet up in the Holy Lands, establishing Allah’s Law on the land“ – the American Jihadi sung. Martyrdom, Hammami said in the refrain, was his greatest wish.

According to the 2009 propaganda tape, „Abu Mansour al-Amrikki“ took part in several ambushes on Ethiopian and African Union (AU) troops in Southern Somalia. The last time Omar Hammami appeared in a Al-Shabaab video – giving a speech during a children´s Quran recitation contest in Somalia – was in April 2010. Since then, no word has been spread about the whereabouts of the American Al-Shabaab fighter.

Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi told news agencies last week, he got intelligence reports stating Hammami was killed or severely injured in a recent government troops´offensive against Al-Shabaab in and around Mogadishu. Their was no 100 percent confirmation on the report, the Defense Minister said, but it seemed credible the American Jihadi was wounded in battle and later died.

Till today, no word of Hammami´s death has reached the Jihadi forums – not even the Somali-language ones. Although Al-Shabaab did not announce the death of its American or just in general foreign fighters with a huge eulogy posting on the forums or a video release, it is very likely the organization will celebrate the martyrdom of its most prominent Western recruit, if Hammami was indeed killed.

A number of American Al-Shabaab fighters died in recent years fighting in Somalia. At least six young men from the Minneapolis region were killed in battle with African Union troops, most of them were American-Somalis, second-generation immigrants and natural-born US citizens. They all had traveled to civil war torn Somalia without informing their parents and joined with Al-Shabaab.

If Omar Hammami did die recently he is the second White American to be killed in Somalia. Troy Matthew Kastigar from Minnesota, a HipHop loving, tattooed former criminal, had converted to Islam and made the journey to Somalia in November 2008. When he arrived in Kenya he contacted his parents for the last time, saying he is now moving into Somalia.

Early September 2007, Kastigar´s family back in the US confirmed media reports that Troy had been killed by Somali government troops in clashes with the Islamists of Al-Shabaab.


Mordanschlag auf Ägypten´s Vize-Präsidenten

by Florian Flade

Wochenlang war es ein Gerücht. Nun bestätigt erstmals ein ägyptischer Politiker: Es gab Ende Januar einen Mordanschlag auf den Vize-Präsidenten Omar Suleiman.

Ägyptens Außenminister Ahmed Abul Gheit bestätigte erstmals in einem Interview das Gerücht, wonach es Ende Januar, während der Proteste gegen das Mubarak-Regime, einen Mordanschlag auf den Vize-Präsidenten Omar Suleiman gab. Er selbst, so Gheit, sei Zeuge des Attentats gewesen.

Der ägyptische Außenminister sagte in einem Interview mit dem TV-Sender Al-Hayat, Omar Suleiman sei im Manshayet El-Bakri Viertel des Kairoer Stadtteil Heliopolis in einem Konvoi unterwegs gewesen, als Unbekannte aus einem gestohlenen Krankenwagen heraus das Feuer auf Suleimans Fahrzeug eröffneten. Ein Leibwächter sei dabei getötet worden, ein weiterer sowie der Fahrer des Autos seien durch Schüsse verletzt worden. Das Fahrzeug des Vize-Präsidenten sei nach dem Angriff von Kugeln durchsiebt gewesen, so Außenminister Abul Gheit. Omar Suleiman überlebte den Mordanschlag unverletzt

Der amerikanische Fernsehsender Fox News hatte am 04.Februar gemeldet ein versuchter Mordanschlag auf den ägyptischen Vize-Präsidenten Omar Suleiman habe zwei Leibwächter getötet. Ein Sprecher des Weißen Hauses wollte damals auf Nachfrage von Fox News nicht auf das Gerücht eingehen. „Ich werde darauf nicht eingehen“, so Pressesprecher Robert Gibbs.

Ägyptens Regierung dementierte Berichte, wonach es einen Mordanschlag auf den neu ernannten Vize-Präsidenten Suleiman gegeben habe.

Omar Suleiman, der ehemalige Direkter des ägyptischen Geheimdienstes, war am 29.Januar vom scheidenden Präsidenten Husni Mubarak zum Vize-Präsidenten einer Übergangsregierung ernannt worden.