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Takfir wal-Hijra (Arabic تكفير والهجرة - Excommunication and Exodus) is an Islamist group which emerged in Egyptmarker in the 1960s as an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood. Today Takfir wal-Hijra has members or supporters in several other countries, allied to Al-Qaeda . In Spainmarker the group is also known as Martyrs for Morocco.

Members of the group are Islamists who are not bound by the usual religious constraints. They adopt non-Islamic appearances such as shaving their beard and wearing a tie in order to blend into crowds and make themselves hard to detect even to other Muslims. They can drink alcohol and even eat pork to deceive their enemies. They believe that the ends justify any means and, that killing other Muslims can be justified in their cause and that Western society is heathen and it is their duty to destroy it.

Little is known about the current organization or hierarchy of the group. Several groups which adhere to the same ideology have possibly used the name independently of each other.

The meaning of Takfir wal-Hijra

The word takfir means to judge somebody to be a kafir, based on their behavior resembling the behavior of infidels. So to commit Takfir is to claim that a society has deviated from the teachings of Islam, and therefore label it as a kafir society or as an infidel society. Hijra means flight or emigration or leaving; thus, if a society is pronounced to be an infidel society, the members of Takfir wal-Hijra see it as their duty to separate from it and conspire and act to destroy and conquer it.


The group has a radical neo-Khawarij ideology, of which Salafism is the binding factor. Mainstream adherents of Salafism reject the extreme position of the takfiris, denouncing them as a modern day version of the Khawarij.

Takfir wal-Hijra takes fundamentalism a step further than most Islamist groups. It advocates armed battle against Jews, Christians and apostate Muslims to restore the unity of the Islamic world order (ummah). The ummah is to be led by a Caliph, who rules according to the Sharia. The group's warriors are allowed to practice something akin to taqiyya. This means they can disguise their true principles for protection of their own faith. This allows them to blend in with Western society and also to disobey all rules of their form of Islam for the goal of destroying Western civilisation from within, a form of antinomianism. According to this ideology, the warriors will be martyrs in Paradise after death.

Takfir wal-Hijra's ideology is so extreme that in 1996 the group plotted to assassinate Osama bin Laden, supposedly for being insufficiently radical. Many also considered the Taliban movement in Afghanistanmarker to be unbelievers.


The group began in the 1960s as a splinter group of Muslim Brotherhood, but did not gain international prominence until 1977. The group was at first seen as a marginalized millenarian sect of little consequence.

In 1977 agricultural engineer Shukri Mustafa became the group's leader. He had begun to build the group after release from prison in 1971. He emphasized a complete break from all of Muslim society which he deemed kafir. Members were therefore to live in an alternative community, or even in caves in upper Egypt. Muslims who felt alienated or marginalized in modern Egypt joined this group for a sense of community. A surprising number of women joined, as he offered them a break from their responsibilities as daughters by deeming their families to be kafir. Although within the group, he had tremendous authority by setting himself up as a kind of Mahdi claimant who could arrange marriages and forbid all outside contact. These activities caused lawsuits from the families of women who joined the group.

In 1977 the group decided to battle mainstream society by kidnapping a Muslim cleric. After Mustafa was captured and executed in 1978 former members were linked to the assassination of Anwar Sadat. The ideology Mustafa helped formulate became an influence on later Takfiri groups.


  • Takfir wal-Hijra is connected with hit-and-run attacks in Algeriamarker.
  • In Sudanmarker in 2000 an alleged member opened fire on a peaceful mosque killing 20. In Sudan in 2003 members of the group allegedly wrote a death-list containing the names of prominent local politicians and journalists.
  • In the autumn of 2004 in Spain a terrorist network was uncovered with suspected links to Takfir wal-Hijra. It had been planning to blow up a Court of Law. It is also alleged that the Madrid bombers had Takfir wal-Hijra connections .

Alleged members and supporters

Shukri Mustafa the group's founder
Abu Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi the group's ideologist
Mohammed Atta accused leader of the September 11, 2001 attacks
Ayman al-Zawahiri second-in-command of Al-Qaeda. However he has spoken to the contrary. "And these Kharijite renegades have been concurred with by the Takfir and Hijrah Group who deem the Muslims – in whole and in part – to be unbelievers. These have gone astray from the path.” - - page 7, 2/3rds down
Karim Koubriti Detroit Five
Ahmed Hannan Detroit Five
Youssef Hmimssa Detroit Five
Abdella Lnu Detroit Five
Farouk Ali-Haimoud Detroit Five
Kamel Essamer leader in Algeriamarker
Mohammed Bouyeri the assassin of the Dutchmarker film director Theo van Gogh, was influenced by Takfir wal-Hijra's ideology
The Hofstad Network the fundamentalist cell of which Mohammed Bouyeri was a supporter, was influenced by Takfir wal-Hijra ideology
Kassem Daher Lebanese-Canadian theatre owner arrested in the Bekaa Valley

International opposition

Takfir wal-Hajra has been designated a terrorist organization by the European Union. implementing Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism and repealing Decision 2005/848/EC (.pdf), Official Journal of the European Union, December 23 2005


  • Gilles Kepel: Le Prophète et le Pharaon. Aux sources des mouvements islamistes, Paris, Le Seuil, [1984], revised edition 1993.


(Sources: NRC; Planet News;

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