November 27, 2019 / 4:46 PM / 11 days ago

Egypt sentences top militant suspect Ashmawy to death

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian military court sentenced top Islamist militant suspect Hisham al-Ashmawy to death on Wednesday after convicting him of orchestrating several high-profile attacks, the armed forces said.

Ashmawy, a former Egyptian special forces officer, was apprehended in the eastern Libyan city of Derna late last year and transferred to Egypt in May.

He was convicted on several charges including plotting a 2014 attack that killed 22 military guards near the frontier with Libya, and involvement in an assassination attempt on a former interior minister in 2013, a military statement said.

Ashmawy led the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt’s most active militant group, before it pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014, it said.

He moved with a group of followers to Egypt’s Western Desert, then transferred across the border to Libya to join the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia, it added. In 2015 he announced that he had founded a new group called al-Mourabitoun.

Egyptian civilian and military courts had sentenced Ashmawy to death in absentia before his extradition.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian military court sentenced to death Abdelrahim Mohamed al-Mesmari, a suspected Libyan militant convicted over a deadly attack on a police patrol in Egypt’s western desert in 2017.

Egyptian authorities captured Mesmari a month after the attack.

Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Aidan Lewis/Mark Heinrich

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