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Sunday, June 10, 2007

A New Al Qaeda Franchise in Egypt?

A statement posted on an Islamic extremist Web site earlier today was attributed to "Al Qaeda in Egypt," which is the first time I've spotted that particular nomenclature in a position of prominence.

To an extent, this is a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." In most meaningful ways, al Qaeda sprang from Egypt, of course, and several years ago, al Qaeda formally merged with Egyptian Islamic Jihad's expatriate branch led by Ayman Al Zawahiri. But the domestic Jihad has thus far maintained a fairly discrete identity and leadership.

Pending a better translation than I am able to provide at this time (and believe me, mine is not good), it appears this statement claims some segment of the domestic EIJ is folding into al Qaeda's robust brand name. It's signed by Hakaimh Mohammad Khalil on behalf of al Qaeda in the land of Egypt.

Khalil might be the same person as Mohammad Hasan Khalil al-Hakim, an apparent member of the corporate al Qaeda with ties to the Islamic Group and EIJ. That would be significant because other "franchise" al Qaeda operations do not appear to be as closely linked to the corporate al Qaeda leadership.

While the vagaries of translation and the anonymity of the Internet complicate efforts to assess this statement, it was posted on a high-level al Qaeda linked forum and the posting was highlighted by the forum's moderators, which is usually a good barometer of authenticity and significance. There have been scattered previous messages purporting to be al Qaeda in Egypt, but the spotlight here raises a red flag.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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