Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), originally called al-Jihad, is an Egyptian terrorist group based on an extreme interpretation of Islam. It has been active since the late 1970s. It is under worldwide embargo by the United Nations as a group linked to al-Qaeda. It is also banned by several governments around the world, including that of the Russian Federation.
Since 1991 it has been led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is now the leader of al-Qaeda. According to Zawahiri, the EIJ was "different from the Takfir wal Hijra group as we do not consider people infidels because of their sins. And we are different from the Muslim Brotherhood because sometimes they do not oppose the government".
The organization's original main goal was to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic state based on the way it thought Islam should be. Later it broadened its aims to include attacking the United States and Israel, and other interests in Egypt and abroad.
Link with Al Qaeda
In June 2001, Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which had been associated with each other for many years, merged into 'Qaeda al-Jihad'.
- "...the members of Islamic Jihad and its guiding figure, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have provided the backbone of [al-Quaeda's] leadership. According to officials in the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Zawahiri has been responsible for much of the planning of the terrorist operations against the United States".
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