Gamal Abdel Nasser
Socialism vs jihad
Although the Egyptian terrorist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood helped Nasser organize a coup to take over the Egyptian government, they soon became disgruntled by some of his secular ideals. In October 1954 the Muslim group attempted to assassinate Nasser, the attempt wounded a guard but missed the president. His popularity rose when after the gunshots, Nasser shouted to the crowed, "Let them kill Nasser! What is Nasser but one among many? I am alive, and even if I die, all of you are Gamal Abdul Nasser!"
Sayyid Qutb was thrown in prison for three months. After his release, Qutb's became the editor of the Muslim Brotherhood's magazine. In less than a year the government began a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb was again arrested and sentenced to life in prison, but the sentence was later reduced to fifteen years.
While in prison, Qutb wrote a book titled Milestones calling for the revival of violent jihad. The book was smuggled out of the prison and published in 1964. Qutb was put on trial for plotting to overthrow the government. At the behest of Nassar's Marxist and atheist Soviet allies who preached "religion is the opiate of the masses," Qutb was sentenced to death and hanged on August 29, 1966. Qutb is now considered among the first martyrs of salafi-jihads' violent struggle against Western secularization.
In 1956, Nasser seized the Suez Canal from the French and British companies that controlled it. His plan was to nationalize the canal to raise money to build the Aswan Dam, and needed cash after the Americans and British withdrew a pledge to help fund it. But Nasser's seizure of the Suez Canal created the “Suez Crisis” for a week because many nations, including Israel, relied on the Canal for shipping. The British and French provided air support for an invasion by Israeli troops into the Sinai peninsula, which easily overcame Egyptian resistance which had pulled back most of their forces to protect the canal. But then the Soviet Union threatened to intervene on behalf of Egypt, creating a wider conflict and a risk of a world war. Nasser was allowed to keep the canal, and international pressure by the United States caused Britain, France and Israel to back off. The Aswan dam was built, in part with Soviet economic aid.
In the years that followed the Suez Canal crisis, Soviet arms shipments caused Egypt to become the most powerful Arab nation in the Middle East. Nasser relished the role of being the spokesperson for the Arab world and used Egyptian power outside of his borders, being military involved in the war in Yemen.
After the defeat of the Suez Canal crisis Nasser still continued his tirades against Israel. In 1965 he announced: “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood”. In May 1967 Nasser forced the UN Emergency Force to leave the Sinai Peninsula, where they were stationed since 1957 which led to the Six Day War. Egypt's horrible defeat at the hands of Israel in the Six Day War devastated Nasser. He never truly recovered and died of a heart attack in 1970.
- The Looming Tower, al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11 (book), by Lawrence Wright