Egypt extremist returned from Libya back on trial

An Egyptian extremist captured in Libya and returned to Cairo was put on trial again Tuesday (June 25th) over five terror attacks, including one for which he has already received a death sentence in absentia, AFP reported.

Hesham Ashmawi -- one of the country's most-wanted militants -- "is accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians" killing 54 people in total, Ahram Online reported.

His retrial was being held in a military court, the news outlet said.

Ashmawi was sentenced to death in 2017 in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement in attacking and killing soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya.

Authorities also have linked Ashmawi with high-profile attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.

He was flown back to Cairo in May, after being handed over by Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar whose forces captured him in 2018 in Derna.

A former officer with Egypt's special forces, Ashmawi was dismissed in 2012 over concerns about his religious views. He joined 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.

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

He is also accused of being behind attacks in Egypt's Western Desert.

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