Egypt releases brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Egyptian military authorities on Thursday released 59 detainees who had been convicted of belonging to Islamist groups, including Mohamed al-Zawahiri, brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the right arm of al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden.

Security sources said the release order was given by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been running the country since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February.

Al-Zawahiri, who was a prominent member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization led by his brother Ayman, was sentenced in the UAE to life imprisonment on terrorism charges. He was extradited to Egypt in 1999.

The Egyptian authorities also released Aboud al-Zomor, who was convicted of participating in the assassination of former president Anwar Sadat in 1981.

The authorities are still holding Mostafa Hamza and Refaa Taha, prominent leaders of the Jamaa Islamiya, who had been sentenced by military tribunals to the death penalty, but the sentence was not carried out.

Hamza and Taha were the plotters of Mubarak’s assassination attempt in Addis Ababa in 1995. Iran had later handed him over to Egypt, while Syria handed Taha over.

Families of the detainees had on Thursday demonstrated before the Council of Ministers, demanding Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to release their relatives for health reasons.

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