Egypt: Al Qaeda's Hisham Ashmawi among 37 militants sentenced to death

The former special operations officer played a pivotal role in stoking the insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai

Hisham Ashmawi after his capture in the former ISIS stronghold of Derna, Libya  LNA

Egypt’s most wanted militant has been sentenced to death by a Cairo court along with 37 others convicted on terror-related charges.

All of the defendants had been arrested because of their links to Egypt’s ISIS affiliate in the Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, the criminal court said.

Hisham Ashmawi, a former special operations officer with the Egyptian Army, played a pivotal role in building up the capabilities of the militant group.

Ansar Bait Al Maqdis, under the auspices of Al Qaeda, spearheaded a violent insurgency against the Egyptian state in the remote desert region before pledging allegiance to ISIS in 2014.

Authorities have linked Ashmawi to an assassination attempt against then-interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim in 2013.

He refused to join ISIS in 2014 and fled to neighbouring Libya where he led devastating assaults on security forces near Egypt’s porous western border. Ashmawi was then captured by forces loyal to Libyan National Army head Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter in 2018.

The 37 sentenced men are among more than 200 defendants accused of carrying out at least 50 militant attacks, including the killing of high-ranking police officers and bombings that targeted Cairo’s police headquarters.

The court also sentenced 61 defendants to life in prison and 85 others were served with sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years in prison.

Ashmawi was separately sentenced to death in November for his participation in attacks on government targets.

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