Egyptian court declares Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades a 'terrorist group'

Ahram Online , Saturday 31 Jan 2015

Hamas have said they reject the 'dangerous' verdict

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades
Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, pray before a military parade marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

A Cairo court has declared Hamas’ military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, a terrorist organisation.

The case brought against the group by a private plaintiff accused the organisation of involvement in and financing of terrorist attacks inside Egypt, and of attacking army and police personnel to destabilise the country.

The court reasoning explaining the verdict said that papers provided by the plaintiff proved that the group were implicated in bombings in Egypt, and that the brigade's recent planning and financing of terrorist attacks show that Al-Qassam brigades and Hamas have swayed from their original cause of fighting the Israeli occupation. The court added that the group's aim is now to target Egypt's security.

The verdict by the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters stipulates that members of the group in Egypt will be labelled a "terrorist element".

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejects the verdict and objects to the bringing of Al-Qassam Brigades into Egyptian domestic affairs.

Abu Zuhri, writing on his official Facebook page, said this "dangerous" verdict only "serves the Israeli occupation."

"Al-Qassam Brigades are the symbol of resistance against the Israeli occupation, and a symbol of the [Palestinian] nation's pride and dignity, despite all attempts at defamation," the statement added.

The court decision comes two days after a series of militant attacks in North Sinai left at least 30 people dead, mostly security personnel. Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

The Muslim Brotherhood organisation was declared a terrorist organisation by an Egyptian court last year; its representatives have denied any links with the increasing number of militant attacks that have taken place in Egypt since the Brotherhood was removed from power in 2013.

The relationship between Egypt and Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, has been tense since the ouster of the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt has accused Hamas of being involved in the smuggling of weapons through underground tunnels into the restive Sinai Peninsula, an accusation that the group has denied.

To combat the increase in militant attacks, which are concentrated in North Sinai, the army has destroyed numerous smuggling tunnels that link Egypt and Gaza, as well as demolishing hundreds of houses in order to create a buffer zone along the Gaza border.

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