Islamist party in trouble over Qatar terror list

Head of the Building and Development Party, the political arm of the militant Al Jamaa Al Islamia, is placed on terror list

Gulf News

By Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo: An Egyptian Islamist party faces uncertainty after its leader, residing in Qatar, was named as a terrorist by four countries.

Tarek Al Zomor, the head of the Building and Development Party, the political wing of the militant Al Jamaa Al Islamia group, was last week placed on terror lists along with 58 other Islamists associated with Qatar.

The lists were released by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, days after they severed diplomatic ties with Qatar for supporting terrorism.

Al Zomor, 58, was re-elected head of the party in April for a four-year mandate, although he has been living in Qatar since the army’s 2013 overthrow of former Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, following enormous street protests against the latter’s divisive rule.

Al Zomor, a staunch supporter of Mursi’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, is charged in Egypt in several cases related to terrorism and incitement to violence.

Over the past few days, there have been growing calls in Egypt to dissolve the Building and Development Party.

Along with Al Zomor two other party officials — believed to living in Qatar — have also been placed on the terror lists.

They are Asem Abdul Majid and Mohammad Al Sagheer.

There has been no official comment from the six-year-old party on the listing of the three as terrorists, or on calls to disband the organisation.

However, sources inside the party admitted its legitimacy was at stake.

Discussions were underway to map a way forward for the embattled party, which was licensed months after the 2011 uprising that forced long-time president Hosni Mubarak out of power, according to these sources.

“A possible solution is that Al Zomor resigns from the chairmanship of the party in order to end the current embarrassing situation,” one source told Gulf News.

A likely successor is Nasser Abdul Salam, who has been steering the party since Al Zomor fled Egypt after Mursi’s toppling, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to media.

Al Zomor was arrested in 1981 for involvement in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat. He served 29 years in prison in this case.

In 2013, when demonstrations intensified in Egypt against Mursi’s rule and his Brotherhood group, Al Zomor vowed to “crush” the protesters.

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