Just after midnight on July 8, the mysterious man behind We Are All Khalid Said sent an email to Ahmed Maher using the alias Khalid Said. He began by praising the work of the A6Y:
You and Kefeya were the first people in Egypt to wake up and hopefully, God willing, this awakening will continue and we can do something to change this country because we all have the same goal.
He then complained about a newspaper report crediting A6Y with organizing the silent stands. His objection, he said, arose from the fact that he'd worked hard to use We Are All Khalid Said to "attract many non-political people who do not want to feel that I am a political person, or that this community is part of a political organization." But then he offered the hint of a pledge:
If you would like to, consider me someone who is preparing a generation of young people to join you or anyone else afterwards... I want us to be one hand and to continue each other's work, so that we don't get into conflicts and our positive efforts to change Egypt end up turning negative.
Maher responded immediately, praising "Said" for his mobilization efforts and apologizing for the misinformation in the papers, adding that the error was not the fault of anyone within A6Y. (Egypt's media, at the time, tended to tie any activities conducted by young people to the A6Y.) But Maher also pointed out that A6Y's involvement had helped magnify the demonstrations. And because members of the group had been studying up on strategies for nonviolent protest, they were able to help direct the crowds to minimize conflict with the police. Then he added:
This leads us to an important point: maybe we can have a declaration between us, agreeing to consult, collaborate, and coordinate together, so that young people will not be so scattered and afraid anymore during these protests.
Without coordination, Maher explained, people brave enough to head into the streets often have to return home just as fast, having achieved nothing "because one dumb officer shooed them away like flies."
At 3:13 a.m., "Said" sent a reply. "I can't begin to describe how happy I was when I read your e-mail," he wrote. He appreciated that Maher was sensitive to the tone he was striking with the Facebook page. Police brutality, human dignity, freedom--these are universal issues, not political issues. "Said" did not want the agendaless brand of We Are All Khalid Said to be contaminated by an open connection to a political group. Still, Said pointed out,
You have probably noticed how [on the Facebook page] I am gradually moving them away from this fear [of politics] and subtly inserting some political subjects.
The two activists would trade a few more brief emails; Maher then suggested they continue the dialogue via either Gmail or Yahoo chat. "Said" closed out the exchange:
Anyway, I think we can really help each other and benefit from one another. Our goal is one.
I'll try to be online around midnight.
But I only have Gmail.
While Maher and the pseudonymous organizer continued chatting for months in the online world, offline Maher had found an employer willing to serve as a kind a benefactor. Mamdouh Hamza is a well-known liberal activist in Cairo and the owner of Hamza Associates, a major architecture and engineering firm behind famous projects like the new Library of Alexandria. A friend had told Hamza about Maher's job troubles. "I hired him without an interview," Hamza told me later. "I was determined to protect this young man."