Al-Zawahiri: Egyptian militant group joins al Qaeda
Group linked to Luxor tourist slaughter, Sadat assassination
In a videotaped statement, Ayman al-Zawahiri said al Qaeda is joining forces with an Egyptian militant group.
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(CNN) -- Al Qaeda has joined forces with the long-quiet Egyptian militant group Al-Jamaa Islamiya, according to a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant that aired Saturday.
Ayman al-Zawahiri said in the message that the two groups will form "one line, facing its enemies."
"May God give us victory with his help," the Egyptian-born al-Zawahiri said on the tape. It aired on the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera.
It was unclear how many members of Al-Jamaa Islamiya would join al Qaeda's ranks.
In September 2003 Egypt freed more than 1,000 members of the group because of the group's stated "commitment to rejecting violence," then-Interior Minister Habib el-Adli told Al-Jazeera at the time. Egypt released another 900 members of the group, including founder Najeh Ibrahim, in April 2006.
Among those set free in 2003 was the group's leader, Karam Zuhdi, who expressed regret for conspiring with Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Al-Zawahiri is the founder of present-day Egyptian Islamic Jihad and worked in the 1970s to overthrow Sadat and establish an Islamic state. In 1981 he was jailed on conspiracy charges in the Sadat assassination, but was later acquitted.
Al-Jamaa Islamiya renounced bloodshed in 1998 after a wave of violence that claimed about 1,300 lives. Included was a 1997 terror attack against tourists in Luxor in which 71 were killed.
According to the Web site trackingthethreat.com, which describes itself as "a database of open-source information about the al Qaeda terrorist network," Al-Jamaa Islamiya emerged during the 1970s, forming in Egyptian jails and later in some Egyptian universities.
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