Haftar delivers 'superterrorist' Ashmawi to Sisi

Captured in Derna, sentenced for Italian consulate attack

29 May, 18:15

    CAIRO - Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has delivered Hisham Ashmawi, an Egyptian "superterrorist" who had taken refuge in Libya, to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

    The delivery took place through a mission by the head of the Egyptian secret service, Abbas Kamel, who on Tuesday went to Libya and met with Haftar.

    Ashmawi's arrival in Cairo was broadcast on Egyptian state television, which showed images of the terrorist blindfolded as he disembarked a military plane with special forces who were escorting the head of the secret service.

    The website of Egyptian daily Youm7 said Ashmawi is accused of 17 terrorist attacks and was arrested last October in the Libyan town of Derna in the Maghar neighbourhood "while wearing an explosive belt".

    Ashmawi is considered, among other things, to be "one of the most important terrorists" in the Egypt-based jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem), which merged with ISIS in 2014.

    Saudi news channel Al Arabiya said Ashmawi is implicated in attacks on Egyptian security forces with dozens of deaths.

    Haftar's forces announced the capture of Ashmawi, whose name is often transliterated as Ashmawy and who is known as "the most-wanted terrorist in Egypt", on October 8.

    At the time, the website of Al Arabiya said Ashmawi was accused of being responsible for, among other attacks, the massacre of at least 16 police officers at the Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt in October 2017.

    The group Ansar al-Islam, which was headed by Ashmawi, claimed responsibility for that attack.

    Egyptian English-language monthly magazine Egypt Today said Ashmawi, previously known as Abu Omar al-Muhajir, is a former officer in the Egyptian special forces who had also trained in the USA but converted to jihadism in 2012-2013. He first became head of the military wing of Ansar al-Maqdis (which became the Egyptian branch of ISIS in the Sinai in 2014), then "emir" of the jihadist group al-Murabitoun, affiliated with al-Qaeda and in contrast with ISIS.

    Some of the Egyptian attacks Ashmawi is accused of planning or executing include the killing of Egyptian Prosecutor General Hismah Barakat in July 2015, the December 2013 Mansoura bombing at the security directorate building of the Dakhalia (Nile Delta) Governorate, and the July 2014 attack on a military unit at the Farafra Oasis in the Western Desert.

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