13 Egyptians charged with forming 'terror cell' linked to Islamic State

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Nov 2014

Defendants allegedly formed a terrorist cell to attack security forces and installations

Egypt's top prosecutor on Tuesday referred 13 alleged militants to criminal court on charges of forming a "terrorist cell" targeting police and army forces, a statement from the prosecutor's office said.

The cell, allegedly based in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, is linked to the militant group of the Islamic State, which has claimed control over large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The prosecutor's office said investigations showed one defendant established and organised an unlawful group to obstruct the rule of law, hinder state institutions from their duties, assault citizens' personal freedoms and harm national peace and unity.

The defendants – six arrested and seven on the run – include teachers at Al-Azhar Islamic University, as well as students, employees and doctors.

The group is also allegedly charged with inciting against the government, considering the president an infidel and inciting attacks against security forces and Christians and their property.

Militant attacks have spiked dramatically since the July 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, mainly targeting security forces and their posts.

Hundreds of security personnel have been killed, with civilians occasionally caught up in the violence.

Most of the major attacks have been claimed by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group which swore allegiance to the Islamic State earlier in November.

In some videos, militant groups claimed they have stepped up assaults against authorities in response to a crackdown on Morsi supporters that has killed hundreds and put thousands in jail.

The prosecutor's statement on Tuesday said one of the defendants confessed to embracing Islamic jihadist ideology, which calls for violence against authorities, who are labelled infidels – or unbelievers. The defendant allegedly confessed to forming the group and providing military training for its members.

Three other defendants are charged with funding the terrorist group, providing them with weaponry and ammunition and possessing guns.

Security forces confiscated an alleged handwritten letter from "the state of Islamic Iraq to our Muslim people in beloved Egypt" and a book detailing how to use weapons in challenging the state and its institutions.

In October, a military court sentenced seven Egyptian men to death and two to life in prison on terrorism-related charges, the first trial to be conducted against Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

Defendants in the case known as Arab Sharkas – named after a village where an attack took place that killed two military officers – were charged with planning terrorist operations, shooting at security forces, attacking military facilities and naval ships and being members of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis.

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