Morsi linked to al-Qaeda?
By Giovanni Giacalone
Recordings of phone conversations between former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri could soon be released in detail.
In October 2013 Albawaba News claimed to be in possession of such recordings where ousted president Morsi committed to al-Qaeda's leader and made several promises which included avoiding the arrest of Jihadists and personal permission to open training camps for Jihad in the Sinai.
According to unspecified sources such conversations could soon become public, with dramatic consequences for Mohamed Morsi who is currently awaiting trial in a maximum security prison near Alexandria.
In addition, such leak would further compromise the image of a Muslim Brotherhood which is already strongly damaged by the Egyptian events of summer 2013, weakening the Organization's influence in the West and putting into serious doubt the theory that the Muslim Brotherhood could actually help in stopping al-Qaeda.
According to Albawaba news and Egyptian state sources Morsi also kept close contacts with Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the brother of Ayman and a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Such sources also revealed details of phone conversations between the two: the first recording call between Mohamed Morsi and Muhammad Al-Zawahiri was from the presidential institution and lasted for 59 seconds. Morsi congratulated Al-Zawahiri on his release from jail and assured him that he won't be followed or observed by any Egyptian Authorities, because he is the president of Egypt and all the institutions of the country work under his orders and commands.
In another call, which lasted for 2 minutes and 56 seconds, Morsi informed Muhammad Al-Zawahiri about the Muslim Brotherhood's support for Al-Mojahidin (Islamist fighters) and explained the necessity that Islamist fighters support the Muslim Brotherhood in order to succeed in ruling Egypt and they also discussed the necessity of Islamist putting their hands on all the joints of the Egyptian State, like the example of the Iranian regime.
Another call was recorded after one month and a half from the previous and revealed a common plan between the presidency institution and the Muslim Brotherhood from one side and Al-Qaeda on the other side, in order to create cells inside the country to protect the Ikhwani regime.
Always according to such sources Al-Zawahiri expressed the need to have training camps for militants in Sinai in order to support the Brotherhood. Morsi replied that the Muslim Brotherhood intended to form corps similar to the Revolutionary Guards with the objective of protecting his legitimacy. In addition he also expressed his will to safeguard Islamist cells in the Sinai.
Even though such recordings still need to be confirmed and become fully public there are elements that could make such claims quite credible.
In the first place it is true that a large number of Islamic extremists were released from prison under the Morsi government, including Muhammad al-Zawahiri. It is also important to recall how after elections Morsi immediately expressed the will to work for the extradition to Egypt on humanitarian ground of the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and detained in the United States.
After Morsi went to power violence towards religious minorities such as the Christian Copts largely increased, with several churches and properties vandalized and set on fire. The Sinai has turned from a tourist destination to a jihadi playground with at least 15 groups operating in the area, including Ansar Al-Jihad, Jund Al-Islam, Jaish al Islam and al Takfir Wal Hijra. The Egyptian authorities are still having problems in controlling the area and they have repeatedly come under attack, with hundreds of casualties since early 2011.
Some analysts also believe that Mohamed Morsi did look at Iran as an example of an"Islamic state" which could be emulated and it's no secret that in late December 2012 Iran's intelligence chief arrived in Cairo to meet with Egypt's political and intelligence leadership.
On Jannuary 9th 2013, the Western daily and the Australian reported that Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was advising the Morsi regime on how to establish intelligence agencies independent of Egypt's powerful military. The newspaper also said that Morsy was frustrated by the refusal of the military-controlled agencies to cooperate with the new Muslim Brotherhood regime.