One little-noticed story in the international media last month was the reported arrest and interrogation of 40 men in Egypt, allegedly for having links with al-Qa’ida. According to reports first carried in Al-Masry al-Yom, an independent Egyptian daily newspaper, the men were actually arrested in April but news of the arrests was deliberately not released. Subsequent media investigations have unearthed further details, many of them inconsistent.
The Egyptian government’s decision to release 1,200 al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya prisoners is a significant development in the long struggle between the militant Islamic groups and the state. Most of the freed Islamists had been jailed without trial or had already served their sentences, and thousands more remain in jail.