Iran expels 25 Islamist group leaders, says spokesperson

Iran has expelled 25 senior members of Egypt's once-banned Jama'a al-Islamiya, a spokesperson for the group revealed.

Those include Mohamed Shawqi al-Islamboly, whose elder brother, Khaled, was convicted of assassinating former Egyptian president Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat.

Jamaa'a al-Islamiya is one of Egypt's largest extremist organizations. It orchestrated armed attacks against the ruling regime during the 1990s, but then formally renounced violence and abandoned its threats of excommunication.

The group's spokesman, Tarek al-Zomor, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Egyptian courts had sentenced some convicted members to death or life in prison.

"The group has no choice except going back to Egypt, and thus receive the penalties, or head to Pakistan, where US and world secret services are trailing them," Zomor told the newspaper, adding that Iranian authorities failed to justify the move.

Iran's decision might be part of efforts to improve relations with Egypt since the 25 January revolution, which led to the resignation of former President Hosni Mubarak.

A large number of hard line Islamist Egyptians, including Al-Qaeda leaders, sought refuge in Iran following the US campaign against the Taliban in 2001.

Several years ago, Iran expelled other group leaders, which enabled Mubarak's regime to capture them. Those included Refaa Taha and Mustafa Hamza, who are thought to be imprisoned in Egypt.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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