Militant Egyptian Islamist Warns Morsi Opponents They Could Be Assassinated

Nageh Ibrahim of Egypt’s Islamic Group (Photo from Al Arabiya)

A senior member of Egypt’s militant Islamic Group, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, is warning that liberal politicians and intellectuals opposed to President Mohammed Morsi’s recent power grab could face a campaign of targeted assassinations during the month of December.

He also predicts that Egypt and Israel will be at war within the next seven years.

“Political assassinations may target liberals, politicians and intellectuals,” Gama’a Islamiyya’s Nageh Ibrahim told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat.

He called targeted assassinations against prominent liberals a “natural reaction” to the unprecedented “violence, mistrust, and severe political polarization” plaguing Egypt.

Ibrahim told Al Arabiya his prediction “was based on an analysis of the political situation not on information.”

Even while he warned of assassinations, Ibrahim also called on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi to bring more liberal politicians into his government.

“Had the president included representatives of the civil powers in the new government, he would not have had so many enemies,” he said.

But on Friday, Islamists hastily approved a draft constitution without the input of liberal or Christian members, a move that could exacerbate the tension between Morsi and his opponents.

At least one fellow al-Gama’a Islamiyya member criticized Ibrahim for his assassination warning. Senior official Essam Derbala called Ibrahim’s statement “irresponsible,” adding that he does not represent the group’s opinion.

“This is a very bad timing for issuing such statements,” Derbala told al-Mesryoon (as translated by Al Arabiya). “This would promote divisions in the Egyptian society and spread fear of Islamist groups.”

This is not the first time al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya has warned of violence against liberal and secular activists. In October, the leader of the group the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization Mohamed Salah warned the group could use violence to ensure the adoption of Sharia law in Egypt’s constitution. He said it “will fight for the application of God’s law, even if that requires bloodshed.”

He also called on Egyptians to wage “jihad and fight in support of Sharia.”

Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya has a long history of violence, including a bloody campaign in the 1990s which killed Egyptian politicians, police, and foreign tourists visiting the country, most notoriously the 1997 massacre at the Luxor in which 58 tourists and four Egyptians were murdered.