General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Eastern Libya on Monday captured a former Egyptian special forces officer wanted by Cairo for suspected Islamist militant activities, a Libyan military spokesman said, accrding to Reuters.
Hisham al-Ashmawy, one of Egypt’s most wanted men, was apprehended in Derna where eastern Libyan forces are fighting jihadists, said Ahmed Mismari, spokesman of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls Libya’s east. Ashmawy will be probably handed over to neighbouring Egypt after Libyan security officials have completed an investigation, he added.
It is not clear when El-Ashmawi, who has been sentenced to death in Egypt, will be handed over to the Egyptian authorities, but “an official statement will be released concerning the arrest later today,” the source said.
El-Ashmawi, also known as Abu Omar El-Mohager (the immigrant), is wanted for being linked to many attacks in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities say Ashmawy heads the Ansar al-Islam network, which claimed responsibility for a deadly desert ambush against Egyptian police last October. Egyptian officials also accuse the network, which they link to al-Qaeda, of an assassination attempt on a former interior minister in 2013.
Ashmawy’s network has mounted a recruiting campaign among former officers in recent years and is seen as more dangerous than militants operating in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to Egyptian intelligence and security sources.
In July 2015, El-Ashmawi announced the establishment of the Mourabitoun organization in Libya, loyal to the Al-Qaeda.
El-Ashmawi is also accused of involvement the murder of top prosecutor Hisham Barakat, as well as plotting an attack on Egyptian border guards in February 2015, which resulted in the death of 29 Armed Forces personnel.
An Egyptian military court sentenced him in absentia, along with 13 other terrorists, to death over the New Valley massacre in Farafra on 19 July 2014, where 22 border guards were killed.
After his dismissal from the army in 2011, El-Ashmawi joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis Islamist group.
El-Ashmawi received training on the manufacture of explosive materials and combat operations. In April 2016 he traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants fighting aganist Alasad’s regime. El-Ashmawi then left to Libya’s Derna, where he broke away from Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis after the group swore allegiance to ISIS, and formed Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Mourabitoun.