Wanted Egyptian extremist transferred from Libya

One of the most-wanted Egyptian militants who was captured in neighbouring Libya last year has been transferred to Egypt, AFP reported Wednesday (May 29th).

Libyan strongman Khalifa Hafter handed over Hesham Ashmawi, the Egyptian leader of al-Qaeda-linked al-Mourabitoun, after meeting with Egypt's intelligence services chief in Benghazi, his office said in a statement late Tuesday.

Egyptian media broadcast footage of Ashmawi arriving in Egypt on a military aircraft early Wednesday morning.

"The Libyan armed forces handed over the terrorist Hesham Ashmawi to the Egyptian general intelligence Tuesday evening," state TV said on its website.

A former officer with Egypt's special forces, Ashmawi left the army in 2012 and later joined Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis which is based in the Sinai peninsula.

Ashmawi is believed to have gone to Libya in 2013, before Maqdis pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in November 2014, becoming one of Egypt's most wanted terrorists.

He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt's Western Desert region, operating alongside Emad al-Din Abdel Hamid, another army officer-turned-extremist chief.

Ashmawi was captured by Hafter's forces in October 2018 in the city of Derna, east of Libya.

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

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