Crime & Justice

Egypt military court condemns Ashmawi to death



Hesham Ashmawi, the Egyptian leader of al-Qaeda-linked al-Mourabitoun, is seen here after Libyan forces arrested him in Derna.  [Photo courtesy of the official spokesman of the Libyan Armed Forces]

An Egyptian military court has condemned Hesham Ashmawi, the country's "most wanted man", to death by hanging over his alleged involvement in terror attacks, the army said.

Ashmawi was convicted November 27th for his role in 14 "crimes" including a deadly firefight with police in Egypt's Western Desert in October 2017, an army spokesman said.

The verdict is subject to appeal before a military court, a judicial source said.

Ashmawi was initially sentenced to death in absentia in 2017 over an ambush in which gunmen killed 22 soldiers at a checkpoint near the border with Libya in 2014.

The court ruled Wednesday that Ashmawi was also "involved in the tracking, planning and filming of the security detail for then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim on September 5, 2013", the spokesman said in a statement.

Ibrahim survived a suicide car bombing near his Cairo home but some 20 policemen and civilians were wounded.

'Most wanted man'

Dubbed Egypt's "most wanted man" by local media, Ashmawi was returned to Cairo in May after his capture last year by forces of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the city of Derna, eastern Libya.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had asked for him to be handed over.

"We want him to serve time in prison," he said.

A former special forces officer, Ashmawi was dismissed in 2012 over his religious views.

He joined Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, based in the Sinai peninsula, but broke off after the group pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in November 2014.

Known by his nom de guerre "Abu Omar al-Muhajir", Ashmawi announced the formation of an al-Qaeda-aligned group, al-Mourabitoun in Libya, in July 2015.

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