Local media outlets lauded the “great capture” of the most wanted Egyptian terrorist Hisham Ashmawy - Press photo
CAIRO – 2 March 2020: Cairo Criminal Court on Monday sentenced to death Egyptian terrorist Hesham Ashmawy and 36 members of Ansar Bait al-Maqdes terror group over multiple crimes including assassinations of policemen.
The case was referred to the Grand Mufti for religious advisory on February 1st as a standard procedure that seeks the religious authority’s approval on sentencing a defendant to death, although his decision is not binding.
In this case, there are 208 defendants who are charged with 54 crimes that consist of assassinations of policemen, attempted murder of former Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, and bombings of security institutions’ buildings.
The Public Prosecution’s arraignment states the following crimes: founding, leading, and joining a terrorist group aiming at suspending the constitution, laws, and prohibiting the state’s institutions from fulfilling their responsibilities; violating the citizens’ rights and freedoms and jeopardizing national unity and social peace; espionage with a foreign organization embodied in Hamas, the military branch of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; vandalism of state buildings; deliberate and attempted murder; and, acquisition of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.
The 54 crimes drawn against the defendants included 49 murder case of police officers and citizens, including Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabrouk, and Major General Mohamed el-Saeed. They are also convicted of orchestrating explosions that targeted three security directorates, destroying 25 public facilities, including mosques and churches, and stealing a post office, and a vehicle transferring money.
This is the second death sentence handed to Ashmawy after he was extradited from Libya to Egypt. Last November, Ashmawy was handed the first death penalty by the Military Criminal Court over committing 14 crimes pertinent to the Farafra Terror Attack against a Border Guard ambush five years ago killing 28 officers and soldiers.
The handing over of Hisham Ashmawy, the ex-military officer and the mastermind behind several high profile attacks in Egypt, was seen as a revenge for dozens of terror victims among army and police forces over the past years.
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