President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said that Egypt wants notorious terrorist leader Hesham El-Ashmawi to be returned to his country to be held accountable for his crimes.
El-Ashmawi, a former Egyptian army officer and leader of an Al-Qaeda offshoot, was captured earlier this week in Libya.
President El-Sisi made the comments during the Armed Forces’ 29th anniversary seminar on Thursday, which was titled ‘October: Communication of Generations’ to mark the anniversary of Egypt’s war with Israel on 6 October 1973.
El-Sisi contrasted El-Ashmawi with Ahmed El-Mansi, an Egyptian officer who was killed in clashes with terrorists in North Sinai and who was part of the same Army Special Forces unit as El-Ashmawi.
“El-Mansi and El-Ashmawi are both human beings and army officers who shared the same unit in the Armed Forces. We look up to the former with pride and gratitude, while we look to hold the latter one accountable for his crimes,” the president said.
El-Mansy is often lauded for having sacrificed himself for his fellow troops during fierce clashes where 26 soldiers and officers were killed in July 2017.
“The simple difference between El-Ashmawi and El-Mansi is that the former may have been confused or even a traitor, while the latter maintained the correct path, sacrificing his life to protect his country and people,” El-Sisi added.
On Monday, Ahmed Mismari, spokesman of the Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls eastern Libya, said that El-Ashmawi was apprehended in Derna, where eastern Libyan forces are fighting terrorist groups. A picture of El-Ashmawi with blood on his face has been published by the LNA.
A military source told press that it is not clear when El-Ashmawi, who has been sentenced to death in Egypt, will be handed over to Egyptian authorities.
El-Ashmawi was born in 1978 and graduated in 2000 from the Military Academy. He was expelled from the Egyptian army in 2011.
El-Ashmawi, a former Special Forces officer also known as Abu Omar El-Mohager (the immigrant), has been considered among the most dangerous terrorists linked to many attacks in Egypt.
In July 2015, El-Ashmawi announced the establishment of the Mourabitoun organisation in Libya, which is loyal to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.
El-Ashmawi is believed to have been involved in an assassination attempt on former Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and 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.
He is also believed to be behind a deadly attack on Christian pilgrims in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate in May 2017, which killed 29 people.
In January 2015, his group was suspected of staging a multi-pronged attack on the headquarters of the Army Battalion 101 headquarters in El-Arish in North Sinai, which killed 30 soldiers and officers.
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.
During the Armed Forces’ 29th anniversary seminar, President El-Sisi also spoke about some of the major events that have taken place in the country in recent years.
Referring to the 25 January revolution, the president described its events as a “treatment based on a false diagnosis.”
“Some people tried to convince Egyptians that things can change with a magic stick,” he said.
El-Sisi affirmed that the 6 October War has not ended, but continues in a different form.
“In 1973, our enemy was obvious and clear, unlike now, when our enemy is vague, our real enemy is false consciousness,” the president said.