Egypt's arrest of terrorist Ashmawi offers wealth of information about takfiri groups, say MPs

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 29 May 2019

MPs said Egypt's arrest of Ashmawi dealt a blow to terrorist organisations in North Sinai

Egyptian special forces escorting wanted terrorist Hesham El-Ashmawy upon his arrival in Cairo International Airpot on 28 May (Photo: Egyptian Armed Forces)

The extradition of Hesham El-Ashmawy, one of the most wanted terrorists in Egypt, from Libya to Egypt on Tuesday night was widely welcomed by Egyptian MPs.

Soliman Wahdan, deputy speaker of parliament, said that the extradition came after a successful visit to Libya by the head of Egypt's General Intelligence Directorate Abbas Kamel and the conclusion of a meeting with leader of the Libyan army Khalifa Haftar.

Wahdan said El-Ashmawy is Egypt’s most wanted terrorist.

"El-Ashmawy was directly involved in the Farafra and Wahat Bahariya terrorist operation in October 2017, which left 16 policemen killed," said Wahdan.

Wahdan also said that El-Ashmawy masterminded the attempt on former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim's life in September 2013.

"He was also mainly responsible for directing the terrorist attack on a Coptic bus in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya in May 2017, which led to the killing of 29 citizens," said Wahdan.

"El-Ashmawy also led the terrorist operation against the security directorate of the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliyya in December 2013."

Kamal Amer, head of parliament's defence and national security committee, said that coordination between Egyptian intelligence and Libyan authorities led to the transfer of El-Ashmawy from Libya to Egypt.

"El-Ashmawy has a wealth of information about terrorist groups, particularly the one operating from North Sinai under the name of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which is affiliated with Daesh."

"We can say that El-Ashmawy is a treasure trove because he has highly important information on different takfiri militant organisations, and his arrest could help Egypt's security and army disrupt several terrorist cells in Egypt and Libya, and help the army get access to their internal structures and sources of funding," said Amer.

Amer said the arrest of El-Ashmawy came after intensive coordination between Egyptian and Libyan authorities.

"While Egypt's army and police have been able since 2018 to disrupt most of the takfiri groups in North Sinai, Libya's army was able to destroy many of the terrorist organisations that took refuge in Libya, particularly in the city of Derna, after they were crushed in Syria," said Amer.

"The arrest directs a deafening blow to terrorist organisations, and helps secure the Egyptian-Libya border, which was used by El-Ashmawy to infiltrate Egypt from Libya and mount his terrorist attacks."

Salah Hassaballah, the spokesman of the Egyptian parliament, said in a statement that the arrest of El-Ashmawy by Libyan authorities in October 2018 and his extradition to Egypt yesterday was implemented in a very professional way.

"Libya was able to arrest him alive and this is very important because of the wealth of information he has about terrorist groups, while Egypt coordinated well with Libya to capture him because he is an Egyptian and should be interrogated here," said Hassaballah, adding that "Egypt's support for the Libyan national army in its war against terrorists helped a lot in transferring El-Ashmawy in a smooth and successful way."

"The arrest of El-Ashmawy and his extradition to Egypt will be bad news for the Turkish and Qatari regimes, who are the most supportive of militant political Islamist movements in terms of money and weapons," said Hassaballah.

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