Middle East

Hisham Ashmawi: Egypt court sentences 'top jihadist' to death

Hisham Ashmawi after being captured in Libya in October 2018 Image copyright Libyan National Army
Image caption Hisham Ashmawi was captured in eastern Libya in October 2018

A military court in Egypt has sentenced to death a man once considered the country's most wanted jihadist.

Hisham Ashmawi was found guilty of involvement in several high-profile attacks, including one in western Egypt in 2014 that killed 22 security personnel, an army spokesman said.

He was also convicted of being behind a 2013 attempt to assassinate then Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim.

Ashmawi was captured in eastern Libya last year by Khalifa Haftar's forces.

The renegade commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which has close relations with Egypt's government, handed Ashmawi over for trial this May.

Ashmawi, also known as Abu Umar al-Muhajir, once served in the Egyptian army's special operations force but was dismissed over his religious views.

The army said he later became a senior figure in the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, but that he left before it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

Ashmawi subsequently moved with a number of followers to Egypt's Western Desert, and then crossed the border into eastern Libya, it added.

In 2015, Ashmawi allegedly established an al-Qaeda-aligned group called al-Mourabitoun, which was blamed for an attack two years later that killed 28 Christian pilgrims travelling to a monastery.

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