Abdel Rahim Mohamed Abdullah Al Mismary, a Libyan militant – Live screenshot from interview
CAIRO – 17 November 2017: A captured Libyan terrorist involved in the recent Al-Wahat attack in Giza was interviewed on Thursday by Egyptian TV channel Al-Hayat, where he revealed incidents of the operation.
The militant Abdel Rahim Mohamed Abdullah Al-Mismary – a Libyan national – was the only survivor of the security raid that tracked fleeing terrorists in the Western Desert near the terror attack scene and left 15 militants dead.
Deadly confrontations occurred on October 20 on Al-Wahat highway and left 16 policemen dead and 13 wounded, in addition to the kidnapped officer Mohamed al-Hayes who was freed later by the forces.
In the Thursday’s interview, Al-Mismary, a 25-year-old resident of Libya's Derna, said that he adopted the Salafi Jihad ideology amid the spread of Islamist groups in his hometown following the 2011 Libyan Revolution.
Al-Mismary added that he joined the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna in late 2014 along with few neighbors. It was an umbrella organization of Derna-based Islamist factions opposed to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group and the Libyan army, led by Khalifa Haftar.
He pointed out that he participated in planting IEDs that targeted IS militants and Haftar’s troops in Derna, describing his enemies as “infidels.”
In 2016, Al-Mismary met with Egyptian Islamist militant Emad El-Din Abdel Hakim, also known as Sheikh Hatem, who was preparing to create a new militant group in Egypt. Al-Mismary accepted a membership offer in the new group that started with 13 Egyptians along with other militants holding different nationalities.
He justified joining a group outside Libya that the Islamic religion had no boundaries, stressing and there are many Islamists fighting in Derna but no one “resists injustice” in Egypt. He also described his travel to fight in Egypt as Hijrah (migration for the sake of God) to impose the Sharia Law in Egypt.
Al-Mismary said that Sheikh Hatem rented a small farm in Derna, where they held their military training. Sheikh Hatem assigned Al-Mismary and another Libyan militant with logistic jobs in the new group.
Asked about the financing source of the militant group, Al-Mismary said that the Jihadist groups mainly rely on donations and booty.
In August 2016, Sheikh Hatem decided to build a militant camp in Egypt’s Western Desert to launch attacks against the national army and police with the aim to establish the Islamic Caliphate.
Al-Mismary confessed infiltrating into Egypt by two SUVs carrying several types of weapons, most of which were provided by the Islamist groups in Derna.
Some of this group’s arms were looted after a battle with Libyan Toubou tribe which was assigned by Haftar to guard the border lines with Egypt, he said.
Al-Mismary added that the trip from Derna into Egypt’s desert took 15-30 days, and they stayed in several desert areas near Qena, Sohag and Asyut. Then, Sheikh Hatem managed to recruit new Egyptian elements, with the help of an Egyptian member called Buka, who provided logistic services to the group that resided in Al-Wahat area in January on the outskirts of Giza, the terrorists said.
He revealed that Sheikh Hatem prohibited any personal communication between the group’s members for security purpose.
Al-Mismary noted that six new elements joined the group later bringing the total number to 16 men. He added that those newcomers had participated in the IS-claimed attack on the bus that was carrying Christians travelling from El-Minya to the St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery in Upper Egypt.
Regarding the Al-Wahat clashes, the terrorist said that the militants responsible for watching the area were surprised by the security forces heading towards the camp. Sheikh Hatem divided the militants into two groups on the top of a hill and ordered them to attack the forces from behind sand dunes.
The clashes between the police forces and militants lasted for an hour and a half, where two militants were injured and one killed, Al-Mismary said. He added that the group members fled the area and hid in different places to be away from security forces.
He said the members could not flee to the Libyan border due to lack of food and fuel, thus they continued to hide in the desert for 13 days.
Al-Mismary added that after the 13 days they were surprised by security SUVs and warplanes, which conducted several strikes against the militants’ vehicles killing Sheikh Hatem and other militants on the spot.
The airstrikes killed all the group members and Al-Mismary was the only survivor. Then, he contacted some members in Libya via Thuraya phone, but they failed to help him.
Later, the terrorist came under fire from security forces and was arrested.
Security sources said the DNA analysis of bodies of militants killed in the air raid showed that Sheikh Hatem was among them.
The sources added that Hatem was the deputy of Hesham Al-Ashmawy who was a former Egyptian military officer turned jihadist and carried out several past attacks against the police and army. The two men graduated from Egypt’s military academy the same year and were both fired from the army for adopting radical Islamist beliefs.
The Al-Wahat attack was the latest to plague Egypt’s security forces that face an Islamic insurgency mostly focused in the Sinai Peninsula.