FAS Note: The following article is the first of a series. The subsequent articles may be found here, here, and here.

Title: Islamic Jihad 'Confessions' Described  

Document Number: FBIS-NES-1999-0309
Document Type: Daily Report
Document Title: FBIS Translated Text 
Document Region: Near East/South Asia 
Document Date: 06 Mar 1999
Division: Arab Africa 
Subdivision: Egypt 
Sourceline: MM0903100499 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 6 Mar 99 p 5 
AFS Number: MM0903100499 
Citysource: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat 
Language: Arabic 
Subslug: First of three reports by Khalid Sharaf-al-Din from Cairo: "Surprises 
in the Trial of the Largest International Fundamentalist Organization in 
Egypt. Abu-al-Dahab: My Mission Was To Attack the Turah Prison After 
Dropping a Bomb from a Glider" 

[FBIS Translated Text] In the second-biggest trial of fundamentalist 
organizations in Egypt, since the Jihad Organization trial of 1981 that 
followed the assassination of late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, the 
leading defendants being tried by the Higher Military Court at Haekstep 
base north of Cairo gave new information about an international 
organization whose policies were in accord with what has been attributed 
to Bin-Ladin, especially in the matter of attacking US interests around 
the world, particularly US embassies in the Middle East, Africa, and 
Southeast Asia. 
The Egyptian security services have continued their investigations in 
the Returnees from Albania case throughout the past four months. More 
than 20,000 pages of investigation report contain the defendants' 
detailed confessions to the nature of their anti-regime activities, 
violent acts inside Egypt, and plans to threaten the state's stability. 
The defendants' confessions brought many surprises and details about the 
violent groups' role, the extent of their activities abroad, and the 
political ambitions they were pursuing through their banned activities. 
Al-Sharq al-Awsat has read the investigation papers. 
The first thread in this case came with the arrest of defendant Ahmad 
Ibrahim al-Najjar in Albania, where he had fled after being sentenced to 
death in the Khan al-Khalili case in 1994 [date as published]. Once 
al-Najjar was captured, members of the organization began to fall one 
after another. He revealed the names of a large number of his partners 
and gave detailed information about the support he got from the Islamic 
Jihad Organization's leaders, foremost among them Ayman al-Zawahiri, 
'Adil 'Abd-al-Majid, and Tharwat Salah Shihatah, who lives in Britain. 
Al-Najjar, who was sentenced to death in absentia in 1997 [date as published] 
in the case of the attempt to blow up Khan al-Khalili in central Cairo, 
said: The confrontation with the United States is a challenge that 
concerns not only Ayman al-Zawahiri or Usamah Bin-Ladin but the entire 
Islamic nation. 
Al-Najjar is among the 12 defendants accused of membership in the Jihad 
Organization who were extradited from Albania to Egypt last July. Another 
defendant extradited from Bulgaria to Egypt is also being tried before 
the court, whose sentences cannot be appealed. 
Forty-three defendants are on trial in person and 64 are being tried in 
absentia, among them Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri (48 years old). He is 
regarded as the right-hand man of Usamah Bin-Ladin, who is accused by the 
United States of planning the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam explosions. 
Thirty-nine of the defendants were arrested before and four others were 
detained recently, but no announcement about this was made. 
In his confessions al-Najjar propounded this fundamentalist group's 
view of US moves in the Balkans. He believes that "though the United 
States supports Bosnia's Muslims, it does not want to see jihad exist in 
Europe because it fears that the presence of Islamic forces in the 
Balkans would repeat what happened in Afghanistan." 

Nonconventional Weapons [subhead] 

The most controversial point in the confessions of the defendants from 
the Albanian fundamentalist group was the confirmation that pro-Bin-Ladin 
elements had obtained germ and biological weapons by post at a cheap 
price. Factories in the former Eastern Europe supply viruses that cause 
fatal diseases, such as E-Coli and Salmonella, without checking the 
identities of the purchasers. The important thing for them is payment of 
the invoice in advance. One of the organization's members secure an offer 
to supply samples of anthrax gas [as published] and other toxic gases 
from a factory in a Southeast Asian country. The germs were offered at a 
price of $3,685, including shipping costs. A laboratory in Indonesia 
exported serums to the Islamic Moro Front, which has close ties with 
pro-Bin-Ladin groups and with Arab Afghans and Balkans [as published]. It 
is believed that the Moro Front has large quantities of toxic gases. 
In another part of the investigation the defendants said that a 
laboratory in the Czech Republic had agreed to provide samples of the 
lethal butolinum germ at $7,500 a sample. The laboratory did not query 
the purpose for which this lethal substance would be used. The security 
services' report on this point said that it is possible to use a 
microscopic quantity of these viruses [as published] to kill hundreds of 
people by inhaling it or eating contaminated food. 
The security services monitored contacts that elements abroad made with 
members inside the country to urge them to carry out new operations 
against police officers with the aim of undermining security. The 
security authorities exerted great efforts to monitor these elements and 
succeeded in getting back 12 leading members from Albania, another group 
from Arab and African countries, in addition to defendants seized in the 
[Nile] Delta area as they were preparing to carry out new operations, 
specially the al-Minufiyah group. The latter included 'Amr 'Ali, Sayyid 
Jum'ah, Majid Muhammad Mulukhiyah, Muhammad 'Abd-al-Mu'min Yusri, 'Ali 
'Abd-al-Raziq Abu-Shanab, Sa'id Muhammad 'Abd-al-Ghaffar, and Muhammad 
'Abd-al-Mun'im, in addition to Ahmad Sayyid Ibrahim al-Najjar, who was 
sentenced to death in the Khan al-Khalili case. Among the arrested 
defendants were Jad Abu-Sari' al-Qannas, Samir al-'Attar, Sabri Ibrahim 
al-'Attar, Mahmud al-Sayyid 'Abd-al-Dayim, Muhammad Husayn, Ashraf 'Ali 
Isma'il, Samir 'Abd-al-Mun'im, Hasan Muhammad Hasan, 'Abdallah Muhammad 
al-Bakri, Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali Mansur, Muhammad Muhammad Shalgham, 'Imad 
Ahmad Hasanayn, 'Awad Hasan Mutawalli, Na'im 'Abd-al-Na'im, Hisham 
Abazah, and 'Ali al-'Arif. 
The investigations conducted by the security services and the Higher 
State Security Prosecution Office with the defendants revealed a number 
of new changes in the Islamic groups' ways of action and therefore the 
means of confronting and monitoring them. The defendants' confessions 
showed that the organizations adopted new mechanisms, most noticeably the 
They expanded the scope of their targets. They stopped limiting them to 
Egyptian and Arab figures and installations and included the interests of 
the major powers, specially US and French interests, because of their 
involvement, according to the defendants, in the pursuit of the 
organization's members inside and outside their territories. According to 
defendant Sa'id Salamah's confessions, targeting these countries' 
interests was bound to have a massive media value, and this would confirm 
the organization's capabilities, which some quarters had begun to doubt. 
They diversified the targets and did not limit them to the blowing up of 
installations. This change included the kidnapping of figures and 
hostages "so as to bargain with the ruling regimes and security services 
for the release of the detained members of the Islamic Group [IG] or 
other pro-loyal groups, as defendant Ahmad Ibrahim al-Najjar said in his 
They launched joint action with other groups and organizations, both 
local groups and others operating outside their countries. They sought to 
reduce the ideological and jurisprudential differences between the 
various groups that were active in armed action. The defendants' 
confessions revealed that coordination was indeed made between the main 
groups of Jihad, the Vanguards of Conquest, the IG, and the groups that 
split from it. Meanwhile, this new action was carried out under the 
umbrella of what was called the Army for the Liberation of Islamic Holy 
Places, which is reportedly led by Usamah Bin-Ladin, who has become the 
highest organizational term of reference for all the jihad groups. 
They refrained from targeting countries and areas that constituted safe 
havens for these groups and where it was easy to move. 
A Bomb From a Glider [subhead] 
On the other hand, Egyptian judicial sources said that recently 
arrested elements from the Jihad Organization involved in the case 
intended to carry out an airborne landing operation to spring some of the 
organization's leaders in Turah Prison south of Cairo. They said that one 
of these elements, Khalid Abu-al-Dahab, who has both Egyptian and US 
citizenship, confessed to the investigators interrogating the defendants 
in the Albanian Arabs' case. He said that the organization's leaders 
residing in Afghanistan had given him the task of planning an attack on 
the Turah Prison to facilitate the escape of a number of IG leaders. No 
date was set or preparations made for the plan, which involved dropping 
explosives from an Adeltap [name as transliterated] glider to cause an 
explosion in the prison. The aim was to create panic so that the glider 
could then land near the cells where the Islamic Jihad members were 
detained and release them. Most of the fundamentalist elements are kept 
in this complex, which comprises five blocks where prisoners are held in 
heavily guarded cells and is known as the al-'Aqrab Prison. Abu-al-Dahab 
added that he learned how to fly this type of glider at a civil flying 
school in San Francisco and had then gone to Afghanistan in the early 
1990s where he trained three Jihad members to use it. He stressed that he 
left Egypt for the United States in 1986 and joined the Albanian Arabs a 
year later. 

Al-Najjar's Confessions [subhead] 

The confessions of the first defendant in the Albanian Arabs' case, 
Ahmad Ibrahim al-Najjar, filled 143 pages that detailed the 
investigations conducted by the Higher State Security Prosecution Office 
before the whole case was referred to the military judiciary. He said 
that he belonged to the second generation of the Jihad and IG alliance, 
which was launched at the time by 'Abbud al-Zummar, Najih Ibrahim, and 
Muhammad 'Abd-al-Salam Faraj with the blessing of Shaykh 'Umar 
'Abd-al-Rahman. This alliance assassinated President al-Sadat in 1981 
during the military parade that was held to commemorate Egypt's 
celebrations of the October victory. He added that the military court 
sentenced him at that time to three years in prison and that he had been 
released at the end of 1984. Al-Najjar had not ceased his banned 
organizational activities from the day he was released to this day. 
Following his release, he revived the Jihad Organization in 1988 by 
recruiting some members in the Nahiya [as transliterated] area in 
al-Jizah governorate. But the Egyptian security services arrested his 
group, which was then known as "Islamic Punishment" [al-Qasas al-Islami]. 
Al-Najjar tried to form another group after his release in order to carry 
out armed operations and overthrow the regime. But he decided to flee 
from Egypt for good after the security services discovered his extremist 
group, which was planning to damage Egypt's economy by blowing up the 
tourist quarter of Khan al-Khalili in the Holy al-Azhar area. 
Al-Najjar went on to confess that he succeeded in entering Yemeni's 
territories, where he lived in Sanaa for a short time during which he was 
in contact with defendant Yusuf al-Jindi, the second man in the Khan 
al-Khalili case, who remained in hiding before the Egyptian security 
services arrested him. Al-Jindi lived in the Kirdasah [as transliterated] 
area, west of Cairo. Contacts between al-Najjar and al-Jindi continued 
throughout the former's stay in Sanaa until al-Jindi was discovered and 
referred to the military court, which sentenced him to life imprisonment 
with hard labor in Case No. 60 for the year 1994 -- military crimes. 
During the trial, al-Najjar was deeply fearful that al-Jindi would reveal 
his whereabouts and his role in the region and hence prompt the Egyptian 
Government to ask the Yemeni authorities to extradite him. He decided to 
flee from Sanaa to a European country and seek political asylum, as other 
leaders of the organization had done in the past. 

Escape From Yemen [subhead] 

A preliminary reading of the policy followed by the Egyptian security 
services to capture and chase this organization's members clearly shows 
that these services pursued a new policy of pursuing the organization's 
members outside Egypt's borders. They put into action mechanisms for the 
extradition and exchange of criminals with most countries, including even 
Ecuador and Uruguay. The latter recently extradited to Egypt Muhammad 
'Abd-al-'Al, one of the IG leaders who was one of the perpetrators of the 
attack on foreign tourists at the Hatshaput Temple in Luxor last year. 
Going back to al-Najjar's confessions, he said: I knew that the Yemeni 
Government had started full security cooperation with the Egyptian 
authorities. I therefore decided to flee from Yemen to somewhere in East 
Europe or Latin America. At that time I thought that one of the Jihad 
leaders who has been a fugitive for a long time would help me do so. I 
contacted brother 'Adil 'Abd-al-Majid, who had political asylum in 
Britain and was living in London. It is known that 'Adil manages a press 
office called the Office for the Defense of the Egyptian People, which he 
uses to attack the Egyptian Government in anti-regime publications and 
pamphlets. When I told 'Adil about the situation, he helped by sending me 
$1,500 so that I could leave Yemen. I did succeed in doing so by using 
forged travel documents and arrived in Albania [he said]. On his arrival 
there, a new stage in organizational activity began to revive the Jihad 
Organization, which had received heavy blows from the Egyptian Government 
every time its leadership tried to revive it. According to al-Najjar's 
recorded confessions in the investigation file, he worked as a teacher of 
Arabic and religion after his arrival in Albania in a school belonging to 
an Islamic charity. He succeeded in gaining the confidence of the 
society's Muslim officials within few months and they let him manage the 
society as a whole. During that period, he renewed contacts with the 
organization's leaders in London and with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the 
organization's leader abroad. Contacts with 'Adil 'Abd-al-Majid and 
Tharwat Salah Shihatah were easy. He added: Telephone calls to 
al-Zawahiri were very difficult and were held through an internet site. 
The matter became even more complicated after al-Zawahiri's whereabouts 
in Geneva, Switzerland, were discovered and he decided to escape to 
another destination which was unknown even to al-Najjar. He said that the 
organization's leaders have not abandoned their ideas and are still 
working to establish a highly organized and well financed and planned 
armed group to achieve their objectives of seizing power in Egypt. He 
believes that they have maintained this objective since the coup planned 
by Jihad in 1981 and despite the Egyptian Government's success in hitting 
the organization and liquidating [as published] it. 
Al-Najjar stressed in his confessions that al-Zawahiri was installed as leader 
by the Jihad members abroad several years ago and that 'Abbud al-Zummar, 
the former leader now carrying out a life sentence in the assassination 
of President al-Sadat's case, is not the actual leader any more and has 
no organizational authority. 
This information explains the conflict between the organization's leaders 
in prison and the fugitive leaders abroad over the initiatives to stop 
acts of violence which were announced by the imprisoned leaders and 
rejected by those abroad. Al-Najjar said: The Jihad's organizational 
structure now is very complicated because a large number of its leaders 
are living abroad, and those living in Egypt are keen not to endanger 
themselves. He added that he did not know all the members or the nature 
of their tasks but knew that Tharwat Shihatah, the lawyer who fled to 
London, was in charge of security inside the organization and his 
responsibilities included protecting members, information, and documents, 
and dealing with attempts to infiltrate it. This is apparently the 
organization's intelligence service, which is in charge of protecting the 
organization and purging it. 'Adil 'Abd-al-Majid, who also fled to 
London, is in charge of the social committee that takes care of members 
inside and outside Egypt and provides the necessary funds for members 
when they flee from Egypt or when they need funds for specific purposes 
inside the country.