MILITANTS IN EGYPT TERROR GROUP ARE SAID TO BE JOINING AL QAEDA
Al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, announced Saturday that it was being joined by a string of major players from Al Gamaa al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian militant group.
In a message run by Al Jazeera television, Mr. Zawahri, who was born in Egypt, welcomed ''a number'' of the group's leaders ''under the Al Qaeda banner.''
They have decided, he said, to ''merge with Al Qaeda to unite the forces of the nation into one, to face its enemies which are launching the most ferocious campaign ever seen against Islam.''
The group was behind the 1981 assassination of President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt, and continued to battle the country's military in the 1980's. Its six-year bombing campaign in the 1990's killed 1,300 people.
Its members were suspected of playing a role in the 1997 attack in Luxor, Egypt, which killed 58 tourists and 4 Egyptians.
While the mainstream group's leaders in Egypt renounced violence nine years ago, several exiled figures rejected the move toward peace.