This morning’s papers are reporting that the U.S. government is poised to forgive Egypt $1 billion out of the $3.2 billion in debt it owes the American taxpayer. This follows the brazen public announcement this past weekend by the Egyptian terrorist group Gamaa Islamiya that, having supposedly renounced violence a generation ago, it is now openly back in the business of sending young Egyptian men abroad to wage jihad, apparently without objection from the Morsi government. In the early 1990s, the group drew international condemnation when its spiritual leader the “Blind Sheik” was convicted of conspiracy in conjunction with the first bombing of the World Trade Center, and, a few years later, for killing 58 tourists at Egypt’s famed archaeological site at Luxor. This time the group is supplying jihadists to Syria against the Assad regime, as detailed in an important piece here, by Egyptian analyst Samuel Tadros. Though it came on the sleepy, last official weekend of summer, this development should not be overlooked. As Tadros points out, it could have dire implications for Egypt, as well as for a post-Assad Syria. The question is: Will the Obama administration — which recently welcomed a Gamaa Islamiya political representative to the White House and State Department — set any conditions on our generosity to Egypt against jihadist activity, both within and outside the country?
by Nina Shea