Egyptian security agencies released 25 members of Egyptian Jihad, Jundullah, and other salafist groups in recent weeks. They are the first hard-line Islamists to be released from detention in several months.
The interior ministry released 9 members of Egyptian Jihad before Eid el-Fitr. Among those released was Ahmed Mohammed Beshr, who was arrested in 1994 for being a leader in the movement.
Security forces released an additional 16 prisoners from other salafist groups, including Fouad Atef Khairallah of Alexandria, a member of Jundullah.
The released Islamists are not accused of involvement in violence, sources said, contradicting rumors that jails are over-crowded with detainees.
The Islamic Jihad organization, which is one of the largest Islamist groups in Egypt, has only three members in custody: Sheikh Mohamed Abul Soud, Sheikh Samih Abdel Maqsud, and Sheikh Ashraf Abdel Karim. Abdel Karim previously rejected calls from group leaders to halt violence, but has recanted on this position, according to sources.
Most of those currently in jail are members of the Islamist trend known as salafia jihadia, or salafist jihadist. They are said to be associated with incidents of violence in recent years.