The Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) is a very militant Islamic group that came about in the 1970’s. This group was also recognized by the United Nations at the time as being affiliated with Al-Qaeda networks. This group’s primary purpose initially was to instill a religious government in Egypt. However, after dealing with numerous arrests from world operatives, which mostly took place in Lebanon and Yemen; this group was said to eventually have completely merged with Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda networks in 2001. After merging with Al-Qaeda the group broadened its purpose. For the most part the group totally switched its focus towards complete opposition towards Western influence in the Muslim regions. This opposition also included any Arab governments that supported both the United States and Israel. The decision to merge with Al-Qaeda and the change in the groups’ focus or its initial stated purpose since its inception did not sit well with all of its members and caused a rift within the organization.
The Egyptian Islamic Jihad group drew most of its support from Al-Qaeda. In fact after the arrest of a large number of its members; they had to practically depend on Al-Qaeda for most, if not all of their financial support. Most of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group was on the payroll of Al-Qaeda. Some experts believed that Bin Laden’s terror network actually grew in part because of the Egyptian extremist groups; to be quite frank, many of Al-Qaeda’s leaders are from the Egyptian region and was at one time a part of the Egyptian Islamic Jihadist group. Both of these groups actually needed one another’s support. Once Egypt began denouncing the violence of the Egyptian Islamic Jihadist and they began to lose support; The Egyptian Islamic Jihadist needed another source of financial support, which of course was given from Al-Qaeda. Whereas, Al-Qaeda viewed the members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad as an asset because they were known for their military and specialty skills in weapons training and strategic military planning. The Egyptian government at the time believed that the Egyptian Islamic Jihadist was also receiving support from Iran as well.
Terrorism definitely played a role in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda achieving success in their stated purpose as a whole. Keep in mind initially; the Egyptian Islamic Jihad ‘s purpose was to instill a religious government in Egypt in the place of their current government. However, once the two completely emerged, their purpose turned towards completely denouncing any and all Western influence within its region, especially as it relates to the United States and Israel. This also meant that any nation that affiliates itself with the likes of the United States, Israel and the likes would find themselves as targets of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist activity. In order to achieve their stated purpose of getting rid of all Western influence and establishing heir version of Islamic rule across all Muslim nations; this group employed terroristic activity as a way of achieving their goal. In fact, we know that Al-Qaeda is responsible for some of the deadliest attacks/ terrorist acts for decades in the United States and abroad to include the bombings of American embassies in East Africa and the Madrid train bombings.
The structure of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad was set up more like a blind-cell structure that was similar to the Leninist Communist party. The members in each cell had no idea of the others existence or their activities. The idea behind such structure was to prevent other members from endangering the other’s safety and the successfulness of their missions in the event that one of the members was captured. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad has always been somewhat affiliated with Al-Qaeda since the beginning and now that they are completely merged together as one, we must become completely familiar with Al-Qaeda’s structure as well. Osama Bin Laden and his deputy mostly make up al-Qaeda’s structure of veterans of the war against the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980’s; which was led,, Dr. Ayman al- Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda itself operated through a coalition of terror organizations known as the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders. However, once Bin Laden was forced to go into hiding, their structure of course had to change drastically. This change actually helped Bin Laden’s organization to expand their organization by joining forces with other regional extremist groups, in which they heavily relied on and exploited them for their talents as well. The majority of these individual terrorist, cells and ad hoc organization, who had very little contact with Al-Qaeda, but they carried out numerous terror acts in the name of Al-Qaeda.
Nevertheless, the majority of the funding for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group before they merged with Al-Qaeda definitely came from Bin Laden and his fortune. Bin Laden’s fortune along with his multitude of investments and business partnerships all over the world allowed him to fund both his organization as well as the Egyptian Islamic Jihadist group. Al-Qaeda also received funding from various non-profit organizations and charities. In fact, one of the charities in particular was called the Holly Land Foundation, in which the United States attempted to shut down after the events of September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda used both legal and illegal methods to finance their operations, such as underground criminal activity and money laundering. However, as we previously recognized a huge source of the organizations funding came from Bin Laden’s legal investments and business partnerships that definitely added to his fortune.
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- Louis Howell Jr (Author), 2014, The Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Merger with Al-Qaeda, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/293352