Liwaa al-Thawra seeks to undermine Egypt's stability

By Ahmed al-Sharqawi in Cairo


Egyptian forces seized a large number of weapons during a raid on a Liwaa al-Thawra hideout. [Al-Mashareq]

Liwaa al-Thawra follows an extremist ideology that resembles that of al-Qaeda, and has attempted to undermine Egypt's stability in the same way, by attacking military and security personnel, experts tell Al-Mashareq.

Liwaa al-Thawra announced its founding on August 21st, 2016, after claiming responsibility for an attack on al-Agizi checkpoint in Menoufia province that left two policemen dead and three others, including two civilians, wounded.

The group claimed responsibility for its second attack, the assassination of Brig. Gen. Adel Ragai, on October 22nd.

Investigations conducted by the Egyptian military prosecutor and public prosecutor offices have revealed there has been co-ordination between Hasm movement and Liwaa al-Thawra, and that the two share a source of funding.

Activity confined to Egypt

"The attacks carried out by Liwaa al-Thawra are confined within the Egyptian border, and the Egyptian army is pursuing its elements," said Iman Ragab, an expert at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

At the same time, she told Al-Mashareq, the army is besieging "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) affiliate Wilayat Sinai.

Although Liwaa al-Thawra has carried out only two operations in one year, its elements are capable of carrying out further attacks and have clearly received training, she said.

Liwaa al-Thawra "relies in its operations on tactics that include assassination and surprise attacks", said military expert and Nasser Military Academy adviser Maj. Gen. Tharwat al-Nasiri.

The group only recruits youth, he told Al-Mashareq, subjecting them to rigorous training, with the aim of carrying out swift attacks within the provinces.

"The group's doctrine aims primarily to attack army and police personnel in Egypt specifically, and although it communicates with external elements, its activity does not extend beyond the borders of Egypt," al-Nasiri said.

Al-Nasiri said Egyptian forces have arrested several of the movement’s elements, throwing its ranks into disarray and limiting the number of attacks it carried out during an entire year to two.

Security forces in pursuit

"The group adopted a violent approach based on accusing Egyptian society in general of takfir and targeting army and police personnel in particular," former State Security Agency deputy chief Fouad Allam told Al-Mashareq.

The movement's ideology resembles that of al-Qaeda, he said.

"Liwaa al-Thawra is a typical movement that seeks to carry out impactful, carefully-planned operations between long time intervals, and works to smuggle weapons to its elements in the Egyptian provinces," he explained.

The investigations conducted by the public prosecution office into the two attacks carried out by the group revealed it has a number of hideouts that it uses for training and storage, he said.

In one of the group's hideouts in al-Sharqiyah province, Egyptian forces found the military hat of Brig. Gen. Adel Ragai, the weapon of a secret service member and an enormous number of Kalashnikov rifles, he added.

On December 25th, Egyptian security forces killed two members of the group in a raid on one of its hideouts in Menoufia province.

In an interview posted on social media a year after the group was founded, Liwaa al-Thawra spokesman Salaheddin Youssef admitted it embraces an ideology that considers the Egyptian security forces as "infidels".

He also expressed ideological differences with ISIS, revealing that he expected ISIS to unravel soon, even as his group remains intact.

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