Egyptian crackdown against Islamists ‘aiding al-Qaeda’
Egypt's bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has been a gift to al-Qaeda that will help it attract fresh followers and open a new front in the Middle East, experts say.
The repression of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ousting of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi could see a new generation of radicals joining the movement founded by Osama bin Laden, they say.
"There are fears that the bloody crushing of peaceful demonstrations will encourage an Islamist minority - convinced of the futility of the political process - to turn to violence," said Jean-Pierre Filiu, a Middle East expert at Sciences Po University in Paris.
"The Egyptian military will then have nourished the very terrorism it is claiming to fight."
Egypt, the most populous Arab country, has already proven fertile ground for radicalism. Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is Egyptian, as was Mohammed Atta, the top hijacker in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Egyptian authorities have arrested Zawahiri's brother Mohamed for supporting Mursi, and the al-Qaeda chief has repeatedly called on supporters to take up arms against the country's army-installed interim government.
"In Zawahiri's view, Egyptians should follow the path of Mohammed Atta and resort to terror against the near enemy, the Egyptian army, and the far enemy, America, which has armed and trained Egypt's military," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institute, wrote recently.
"The future of global jihad is being defined in Egypt this summer. The next generation of al-Qaeda is being born," he said.