Egypt extremist returned from Libya to face terror charges

A high-profile Egyptian extremist who was transferred to Cairo from Libya on Wednesday (May 29th) will face a military tribunal over his alleged involvement in terror attacks, AFP reported.

A former officer with Egypt's special forces, Hesham Ashmawi later joined the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis but broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in November 2014.

Ashmawi, also known as "Abu Omar al-Muhajir", announced the formation of al-Qaeda aligned militant group al-Mourabitoun in Libya in July 2015.

He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt's Western Desert, and has been linked with attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.

In 2017, he was sentenced to death in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement in a deadly attack on a checkpoint near the Libyan border.

He will now face a retrial.

Analysts said that after a stint in captivity in Libya, Ashmawi's intelligence value would have dropped.

But his return could provide the authorities with information on how he recruited other former military personnel and on previous terror attacks.

Egyptian MP Kamal Amer, head of the parliamentary defence and national security committee, said Ashmawi "has highly important information on different takfiri militant organisations", Egypt's Ahram Online reported.

"His arrest could help Egypt's security and army disrupt several terrorist cells in Egypt and Libya, and help the army get access to their internal structures and sources of funding," Amer said.

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