The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Islamist detainees

I bumped tonight into an Islamist lawyer I know who is a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. We chatted about several issues including Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri's latest video, current political situation, and more importantly (for me) the issue of Islamist political detainees--those terror suspects who've been languishing in Egypt's Gulags since the 1990s without trial.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry never gave figures for the number of prisoners and detainees. The figures for detainees in the 1990s, put by rights watchdogs, have drastically varied. EOHR puts it at 22,000. I heard other figures that went up to 40,000.

Last March, EOHR put the number of detainees at something between 16,000 and 18,000, due to the release of thousands of Gamaa Islamiya detainees with their renunciation of violence.

The Islamist lawyer I met tonight said there are currently from 5,000 to 6,000 Islamist detainees in prisons. According to him, the Gamaa's detainees are roughly 600 only, while those of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad number 2,000, and the rest are a mixture of salafis, Sinai bombers' suspects and a random bunch.

Of course I have no means to verify this independently.

Recommended Book:
Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam