Leader of Jama’a al-Islamiya quits following internal divides

Internecine disputes in Jama’a al-Islamiya have forced the group's leader, Akram Zuhdi, and its most prominent theorist, Nageh Ibrahim, to quit.

The disagreements surfaced when the group returned to open activity at the end of the 25 January revolution.

Jama’a al-Islamiya is one of the biggest Islamic organizations to launch jihadist activities in recent decades. Egyptian authorities have accused the group of attacking foreign tourists, state facilities, and policemen during the 1980s and 1990s.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ibrahim announced that he and Zuhdi had quit in order to give the group a chance to elect new leadership.

"The administrative responsibilities that I had been charged with have recently become a source of concern and disturbance for me, distracting me from my principal mission: to open the way to Allah," Ibrahim said in a statement.

"Today, I willingly cede all my administrative responsibilities, long enough before the group's elections are held. I won't accept any managerial tasks even if fellow members of the group request them of me. I’m fed up with this job."

Seeking to topple the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak and replace it with an Islamic system, the group led an armed campaign during the 1980’s and 1990’s that brought several of the group's leaders to jail.

As the group abandoned violence under Zuhdi's leadership, many of its prisoners were released in recent years.

By the end of the 25 January revolution, which brought down Mubarak's regime, the group resumed its activities in public amid rising internal disputes over the methods and ideas to be applied.

On Monday, the group’s Shura Council convened to discuss fresh elections and to select new members. The council is the group’s highest leadership body.

Observers fear that Zuhdi’s and Ibrahim’s resignations might pave the way for hard-line elements to dominate the group’s leadership at a time when Egypt is witnessing critical developments that include the reemergence of Islamist groups.

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