When do “Terrorist” groups become not Terrorist Groups?

Could someone please tell the Council on Foreign Relations to update their website?  

“Jamaat al-Islamiyya is a radical group that seeks to install an Islamic regime in place of the secular Egyptian government.”

First of all, it is not the “Jamaat al-Islamiyya.”  It should say “Al-Jama’a or Al-Gama’a  Al-Islamiyya.”   Second, they do not seek to overthrow the Egyptian regime as terrorism scholars endlessly_claim.  Islamic Group has not committed an act of violence since their 1997 initiative to end violence.    Then, in 2003, after a series of long jail-house discussions they dramatically distanced themselves from their previous militant ideology which they outlined in a series of books.  In response, the government let most of them out of jail and none of them have returned to terrorism.   And now they issue frequent statements praising their previous arch-enemies, Nasser and Sadat.   They have done this at least three times in the last 4 months.  Yesterday, on the 35th Anniversary of the October War, they issued a statement praising Sadat, Nasser and all those who participated in the “Great Victory.”  Its on page 5 of  Al-Dostor which hasn’t put today’s paper online yet.

So here’s my question:  When a group gives up violence, radically changes its Islamic ideology, and then starts making frequent appearances in the press praising the people it originally fought against, doesn’t it cease to be a “terrorist group?”   Why does Audrey Cronin totally ignore the Islamic Group’s experience in her 2006 paper on the Decline_and_Demise_of_Terrorist_Groups?   Might it be that the theories can’t explain this?

5 Responses

  1. Great post. But don’t be so persnickety about transliteration. It’s a turnoff for non-Arabists.

  2. your right. my bad.

  3. But that was translation, not transliteration — dropping the “al-” changes the grammar. Like if CFR put up a backgrounder about the French president Charles le Gaulle…

  4. alle, well said and thanks for coming to my rescue. Regal, by not explaining by what Alle just said I can see how I may have sounded persnickety ( is that a word?).

    But it really is a huge mistake and changes all kinds of meaning. Its not the name of the group – if one saw this name in Arabic and were looking for their real name Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, you would think they were two different things.

  5. […] from Islamic Group Posted on October 9, 2008 by Rob A couple days ago I posted  that people need to stop calling Egypt’s Islamic Group (Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya) a […]

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