October 7, 2013 | Policy Brief

The Designation of Egypt’s Muhammad Jamal

October 7, 2013 | Policy Brief

The Designation of Egypt’s Muhammad Jamal

By David Barnett

The U.S. Department of State today announced the designation of Muhammad Jamal and his network as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In doing so, Foggy Bottom has demonstrated that the threats from Jamal’s network, which has been linked to terror activity in Egypt and Libya, are very much global in nature.

Jamal, a former commander in Egyptian Islamic Jihad, “has developed connections” with al-Qaeda’s affiliates, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North Africa and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, the State Department said. Jamal also has ties to Nasir al Wuhayshi, AQAP’s emir and the newly appointed general manager of al-Qaeda, and Qasim al Raymi, AQAP’s senior military commander, the State Department further stated.

In addition to exposing Jamal’s ties to al-Qaeda affiliates, the designation shines a light on his ties to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership (AQSL), as well. When Jamal was arrested by Egyptian authorities in November 2012, Cairo uncovered communications between him and al-Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri.

In one letter, Jamal told Zawahiri that he believed “in the necessity of establishing a jihadist entity in Egypt” and that he had taken steps to establish “groups for us inside Sinai.” According to Jamal, who had petitioned Zawahiri for consent to start al-Qaeda in Egypt, the Sinai is “the next frontier of conflict with the Zionists and Americans.”

Additionally, the Jamal network has been helping to arm terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Jamal admitted that members of his network were involved in smuggling “advanced weapons to Gaza,” noting that it was a “duty to assist our Palestinian brothers.”

Jamal, whose fighters have been linked to the September 11, 2012 Benghazi terror attack, is also said to have established “several terrorist training camps in Egypt and Libya” with funding from AQAP. “Jamal established links with terrorists in Europe,” the State Department added.

In some ways, this designation is a formality for Jamal. He has been in an Egyptian jail since November 2012, so his ability to direct attacks or move finances is probably limited. The designation would therefore appear to be more of an effort to stop the activities of his network, which appears to be wreaking havoc, even as Jamal remains behind bars.

David Barnett is a research associate at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


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