Egyptian newspapers published on 27 May 2015 that an Egyptian man in his thirties named el Husseiny Kamal was killed in in Libya, according to his comrades who informed his family of his death. The news reported that the ISIS member was likely killed during the Egyptian airstrikes against Libya launched in revenge for the murder of a number of Egyptian Copts by militants affiliated to the Islamic State.

Egyptian newspapers published on 27 May 2015 that an Egyptian man in his thirties named el Husseiny Kamal was killed in in Libya, according to his comrades who informed his family of his death. The news reported that the ISIS member was likely killed during the Egyptian airstrikes against Libya launched in revenge for the murder of a number of Egyptian Copts by militants affiliated to the Islamic State.

I first heard about el Husseiny in March 2011 when he and a group of Salafi comrades broke into the house of Ayman Dmitri, a Christian Coptic man in the Upper Egyptian town of Qena, and cut off his left ear in addition to inflecting several wounds all over his body. They also set fire to his house and car as a punishment for committing deeds they claimed violated Sharia law. This incident was considered at the time as the first appearance of what seemed like ‘committees for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’ in Egypt since the 25 January Revolution in 2011.

I traveled to the province of Qena early in April 2011 and was able to visit Ayman Dmitri in his house with the help of activist Hala Masri who did not accompany me, for fear of attracting attention to himself since he was watched by Salafis who threatened him whenever he was visited by journalists.

Dmitri said dozens of Salafis stormed into his house, beat him and then called the police to inform them that they applied Sharia law and threatened to kill him. Dmitri was keen to explain that he has a family and is an ordinary citizen who has several apartments which he rents to make a living and that he would never use his property for filthy actions as they claimed. I asked Dmitri about the filed police report, but his wife emotionally interrupted his silence and expressed her desire to leave Egypt as they no longer feel safe in this country. Dmitri then introduced me to his mother who served me a generous dinner of cheese and eggs when she leaned I am a Muslim.

A month later, the Salafi vigilantes staged mass protests (in which el Husseiny and his comrades participated, according to witnesses from Qena) denouncing the appointment of the Christian Major General Emad Michael as Qena’s new governor. The protesting Salafis sat on train tracks, took over government buildings and blocked main roads in the city of Qena. They also raised explicit sectarian slogans including ‘Islamic, Islamic’ and ‘Christians are God’s enemies’ considering that the appointment of a Copt governor in their province for the second time to be a humiliation and underestimation of the residents. Some opponents associated the appointment of former Christian governor Magdi Ayoub with the rise of sectarian violence against Copts in the province during the past few years. In other words, they seem to contain sectarianism rather than eliminating it.

The following year and instead of prosecution, Egyptian authorities (military and police) and religious leaderships (Christian and Salafi) pushed for a ‘reconciliation’ between Dmitri and his attackers especially since el Husseiny belongs to an influential tribe. Accordingly, Dmitri was forced to change his initial testimony to say he did not know who attacked him despite the fact that he previously identified two of them, namely el Husseiny Kamal and Alaa Abdul Sattar. Thus, the judge accepted this agreement and acquitted the offenders in April 2012. I tried to contact Dmitri later, but I was informed by his neighbors that he and his family had emigrated and only one of his brothers remained in Egypt.

It is unquestionable that the Islamic oriented groups and figures would support or not oppose such practices, but it is peculiar that numerous civil or liberal forces would underestimate them and even describe them as ‘popular opposition’ or a form of civil defense against the trend of installing former police generals as governors despite the fact that the newly appointed ‘Muslim’ governor Major General Adel Labib is also a police officer.

The Muslim Brotherhood supported the call to replace the Christian governor without raising any official bigoted demands. However, their cadres on the ground participated in the protests. At the time, the Salafis were the leaders of this sectarian scene backed by the support, and sometimes the conspiring silence of the Muslim Brotherhood. The year of 2011, hence, marked the unification of the Islamic trends evident by the campaign to vote ‘yes’ to the constitutional amendments in order to preserve Islamic Sharia, the commencement of conflicts with the civil or liberal forces while initiating cooperation with the Military Council and the emergence of the influential power of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other ‘official’ Islamic groups after the revolution. Such factors backed the violent and provocative acts of the Salafis who were supported by the powerful alliance at the time with the Military Council which included the agreements over the arrangements of the transitional phase and the release of jihadists from prisons.

The fate of el Husseiny invites us to reflect on the life path of the new generation of Islamists who emerged with the revolution especially in light of the developments that took place in Egypt after ousting Islamic President Mohamed Morsi and the start-up of a war phase between the state and the various Islamic groups, which do not recognize its legitimacy within the context of a bigger war at the level of the region.

Some said ‘repression breeds terrorism’ to explain that the rise of violence amongst the members of the Islamic Movement is a result of the violent repression practiced by the state against them since the ousting of Morsi. However, the involvement of el Husseiny with the Islamic trend and his quest to create the Islamic Society did not start after the ‘coup’ but it rather began in 2011 with the rise of the Islamic awakening which emerged following the ousting of Mubarak’s regime and the powerful calls of the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve the Islamic dream.

These circumstances coincided with the release of hundreds of former jihadists by the Military Council and the engagement of a new generation of Islamists in activities aimed mainly to achieve the Islamic dream after the revolution including the participation in supporting activities of the neo-Muslims – youth like Abdul Rahman Sayed, the youngest defendant in the case of the Arabs Circassians who was sentenced to death on 17 May 2015. He is also said to have gone to Syria to participate in the fight over there for the first time before the ousting of Morsi.

Others engaged in sectarian violent acts through the ‘committees for promotion of virtue and prevention of vice’ (like el Husseiny Kamal and his comrades) or, as others did, choosing the democratic peaceful process represented in founding political parties and participating in elections.  Youth like Ahmed Darwi, the young former candidate for parliament who joined the Egyptian Current Party which was founded by a number of independent Brotherhood members at the outbreak of the revolution but later joined ISIS and blew himself up in one of its operations in Iraq after the ousting of Morsi.

It is striking that Darwi’s party cofounders, who are supposedly peaceful opponents of the ‘coup’, such as Islam Lutfi, have mourned him on their Facebook pages and justified his involvement with ISIS after failing to achieve his dream. If we considered the events taking place in Egypt, we would have realized that Tunisia (where developments took another path characterized with respect to the democratic procedures for the transition of power) has produced the largest number of jihadists who joined the ranks of the Islamic State.

The message repeated in Rabaa sit-ins, that destroying the dream of an Islamic state would lead to terrorism, turned out to be real but not accurate since the jihadist option (whether within groups such as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis or ISIS), the people’s violent Islamization option at the local level or the local sectarian mobility by marches and protests are doomed to fail in the end.

The Brotherhood introduced the 25 January Revolution to the wide Islamic public as a historic opportunity that needed to be seized. Therefore, el Husseiny went to establish his miniature state in his limited realm in Qena, believing that the better known Islamic parties would implement it in Egypt as a whole through democratic procedures. Perhaps if the dream of el Husseiny or Ahmed Darwi had been achieved in Egypt, they would not have gone to Libya and Iraq to join a ‘real’ Islamic state.

El Husseiny and Darwi left their country to be killed in their desired state, but Ayman Dmitri also left his country without expecting that the Egyptian state would strike el Husseiny and his comrades in Libya in revenge for insulting the state’s sovereignty by assaulting Copts like him before the entire world when it simply did not move to defend him but rather encouraged and conspired with his attackers against him.

The Egyptian state may win its war against terrorist organizations, but Dmitri has lost his rights in his country and he is not likely to regain them any time soon, as long as the state is involved in violating his rights and conspiring with the reactionary forces of society while the democratic forces remain vulnerable to blackmail and prone to undermine the presence of minorities in Egypt.