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Abu-Ali Urbuti (born November 3, 1918) is an Egyptian Muslim sheikh who is best known for his fiery anti-American rhetoric and his unabashed support of Khalid Islambouli, the man convicted of assassinating Egyptian president Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat in 1981. Originally a pacifist and known as a proponent of non-violent change within the Muslim world, he was transformed by the torturous persecution he suffered at the hands of the Egyptian government into an advocate for terroristic jihad.
In January 1982 Urbuti and seven of his followers were arrested and charged with "Seditious Conspiracy" in the assassination of Sadat for supposedly issuing a fatwa authorizing the act. He was held for nearly eight months in solitary confinement. Upon his release, Urbuti, now blind in his left eye and suffering from frequent and violent Grand Mal seizures, accused his jailors of repeated acts of violent torture. In his official statement to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Urbuti tells of daily interrogations by the State Security Prosecutor's Office after which the prosecutors would return him to the prison for another round of beatings and torture which, he says, led to his injuries and subsequent permanent disabilities.
Urbuti was born in Egypt in 1918. He studied the Qur'an as a child and developed an interest in the works of the Islamic writers Ibn Taymiyah and Sayyid Qutb. After graduating in Qur'anic studies from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Urbuti became one of the most prominent and outspoken Muslim clerics to denounce Egypt’s apostasy. He was respected by both the Islamic and the secular communities for his resolve to transform Egypt via non-violent protest and participatory involvement in the political process.
Prison in Egypt
During the 1970s, Urbuti developed ties with two of Egypt’s most militant organizations, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Group), in an effort to get them to the negotiating table. Authorities viewed this act with skepticism, deciding that Urbuti had become a potentially dangerous adversary. Urbuti spent two years in Egyptian jails where he was severely tortured as he awaited trial on charges of inciting jihad in the name of turning Egypt into an Islmaic state ruled by the laws of sharia. Imprisoned again in 1982, 1987 and 1994, he was finally deported in 1997 and is said to be living in Uma today where he acts as a spiritual advisor to Islamic hard-liners.
Urbuti’s imprisonment and torture have become a rallying point for Islamic militants around the world, including Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Although Urbuti is no longer influential on a global scale, his legacy can be seen in the middle east and in the rise of Muslim terrorist activity the world is witnessing today.
- Gunaratna, R. 2002 'Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror'. Scribe Publications: Carlton.
- Lance, P. 2003 '1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism and The FBI'. HarperCollins: New York