An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced to death 22 Islamist militants including a former police officer, for terrorist attacks, including the attempted assassination of a former interior minister, according to news reports.
The men were found guilty of committing 54 “terrorist operations” across Egypt including the murder of a senior police officer as well as trying to kill former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, a judicial source told AFP.
The convicted men were members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis—a jihadist militant group which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fighters in Sinai were led by Hisham al-Ashmawy; an ex-special forces officer.
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Ashmawy –- once dubbed Egypt’s “most wanted man” —split from the militants; after they switched allegiance from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State group.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been associated with almost every terrorist attack that hit Egypt; after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood.
For years, Egypt has been fighting a bitter insurgency in North Sinai against the Maqdis fighters that escalated; after the army’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.
In 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi confirmed that; Egypt’s military was working with Israel to combat ISIS in the Sinai, in an interview with CBS.