Egypt’s most wanted terrorist Hesham Ashmawy after being arrested in Derna, Libya on October 8 - screenshot of extra news channel/YouTube
CAIRO – 27 November 2019: A military court handed Hesham al-Ashmawy, a former military officer, a death sentence on terrorism charges including killing security personnel in several separate acts since 2013.
Ashmawy was arrested by the Libyan authorities in 2018 and was repatriated to Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) in May this year. Ashmawy was sentenced to death in absentia in 2017.
The alleged leader of terrorist movement al-Murabitoon, was charged with plotting or carrying out a number of terrorist attacks, including planning to assassinate former Interior Minister Mohamed Ebrahim.
Ashmawy was also charged with being involved in an attack on a security checkpoint in Farafra Oasis Road in the New Valley Governorate, which caused the death of at least 22 border guards.
He is also accused of targeting trucks and personnel of Egypt’s Second Field Army, which is mainly stationed in Ismailia.
Handing Ashmawy to the Egyptian GIS was widely hailed as the former officer was considered to be Egypt’s most wanted terrorist.
Following the repatriation, Sisi praised and congratulated the Egyptian Army, describing them as “hawks” and “heroes” who swore to protect their country.
From military to militancy
Born in 1978 in Giza, Ashmawy or Abu Omar al-Muhajir, 41, was an officer in the Egyptian Commandos as a member of Sa‘ka Forces or Thunderbolt Forces.
He was transferred to an administrative post in 2007 after a change in his behavior as he promoted for political Islam through spreading banned books. He was suspended from the army in 2009 after he stood a military trial; then he traveled to Syria via Turkey.
In 2013, Ashmawy moved to Sinai where he became in charge of the military wing of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. He started to develop the performance of the group and improve their militancy skills.
Following the June 30 Uprising, he was accused of failed assassination of former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, and the killing of a colonel and brigadier general during a firefight in the Qaliubiya village of Arab Sharkas.
Defected from Islamic State (IS) terror group, Ashmawy went to Derna, 250 km far from Egypt’s western borders, where he announced in a voice recording his leadership of the al-Qaeda-aligned militant group al-Mourabitoun in the Islamic Maghreb.
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis announced in November 2014 its allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), Ashmawy refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdel Maguid