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Cablegate: Al-Gama'at Al-Islamiya: Concerns Regarding Possible Revocation of Foreign Terrorist Organization Status


DE RUEHEG #2187 2881544
O 141544Z OCT 08

S E C R E T CAIRO 002187



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018
SUBJECT: AL-GAMA'AT AL-ISLAMIYA: CONCERNS REGARDING POSSIBLE REVOCATION OF FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION STATUS REF: A. 07 CAIRO 1638 B. IICT-2008-59 Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Tueller for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 1.(S) Summary: The Country Team does not support revoking the designation of Al-Gama'at al-Islamiya (GI) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). We believe that the GoE's counter-radicalization efforts with GI have produced impressive results. The success that has been achieved, however, is in no small part a result of intense pressure applied to the group by the security services. Because of this pressure, specifically the jailing of GI members and the coercing of renunciations of violence, GI may not pose an immediate danger. However, as Egyptian security officials have advised us, if this pressure is lifted, it is likely that some members of GI would return to violent extremism. Moreover, not all GI members have accepted GI's renunciation of violence, and remain in Egyptian prisons as they are deemed a threat by the GoE. Egyptian contacts also tell us they remain very concerned by the capabilities and threat posed by those GI members outside of Egypt who have not renounced violence. End summary. 2.(S/NF) In a May 2008 assessment of GI as an FTO, the intelligence community concluded that "most GI members have only limited capability to carry out terrorist operations, but many remain active in supporting the global jihad (ref B)." This assessment is consistent with what we were told recently by Egypt's State Security Investigations Service (SSIS). In an October 12 meeting, XXXXXXXXXXXX, of SSIS' Cairo branch, told us that GoE's counter-radicalization effort, as a result of which a number of GI leaders renounced violence and counseled their followers to do the same (ref A), has been a success. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, numerous GI members renounced violence and have been released from prison. XXXXXXXXXXXX said SSIS continues to closely monitor the activities of the released GI members, as well as ensure their economic well-being, out of concern that they could return to violent extremism at "any moment." XXXXXXXXXXXX opined that the released GI members are prone to re-radicalization, and that "left to themselves," it is likely that they would do so. Without providing a specific number, XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that "numerous" GI members remain in Egypt's prisons because they have not accepted GI's renunciation of violence. XXXXXXXXXXXX also said that GI members outside of Egypt have not renounced violence and SSIS remains concerned about their ability to conduct operations. 3.(S) XXXXXXXXXXXX , the MFA's XXXXXXXXXXXX, told us that he believes the GoE's counter-radicalization program directed at GI has been successful. He told us that the GI website, jointly operated by the GoE and GI, has been especially successful. He acknowledged, however, that some GI members have not been swayed by the counter-radicalization program and remain in prison. While he said that in his "personal view" the GI is not currently a threat to Egypt, he said that was not the coordinated Egyptian inter-agency opinion. 4.(S) Comment: We understand and support the requirement to maintain a credible FTO designation policy as well as the statutory requirements of Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Nonetheless, all members of the Mission's inter-agency Homeland Security Working Group disagree with revoking GI's designation as an FTO. As the SSIS's XXXXXXXXXXXX told us, GI's renunciation of violence has come about because of the intense pressure the GoE has imposed - specifically jailing GI's membership. We are concerned that a revocation of the FTO designation could be seen as a reduction in the pressure that has for the last ten years prevented the group from successfully conducting a terrorist attack. Such a revocation would likely not be welcomed by the GoE. 5.(S) Comment (cont.): Per the National Counterterrorism Center assessment, GI still has a "limited capability" to carry out terrorist attacks, and per the GoE, some of its members still have the intent to do so. Thus, we feel it would be pre-mature to revoke GI's designation as an FTO. If, however, the decision is made to de-list GI, we request sufficient advance notification to the Embassy so that we can inform the GoE and avoid any unpleasant surprises. SCOBEY

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