An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced to death 37 defendants, including one of the country’s most high-profile terrorists, following their conviction of terrorism-related charges.
The Cairo Criminal Court said the defendants were charged with belonging to a local affiliate of the ISIS group that is active in the Sinai Peninsula.
Among those sentenced to death was Hisham al-Ashmawy. The terrorist leader is a former army officer, who was returned to Cairo in May last year after he was captured in Libya late in 2018 by the Libyan National Army.
A military court separately sentenced al-Ashmawy to death in November for his participation in scores of attacks on government targets.
Egypt has been fighting for years militants in the restive northern Sinai area and the vast Western Desert.
The men are among more than 200 defendants accused of carrying out more than 50 militant attacks that included killing high-ranking police officers and bombings that targeted the Egyptian capital’s police headquarters. The charges include a 2013 assassination attempt on the Egyptian interior minister.
The court also sentenced 61 defendants to life in prison, and 85 others got sentences ranging from 15 to 5 years in prison.
Monday’s verdict can be appealed before a higher court.
For years, Egypt’s security forces considered al-Ashmawy the country’s most wanted terrorist for his intelligence value.
He is accused of orchestrating several attacks.
He was convicted on several charges, including plotting a 2014 attack that killed 22 military guards near the frontier with Libya, and involvement in an attempt to kill a former interior minister in 2013.
The former special forces officer, who is in his 40s, was dismissed in 2012 over his radical views.
He joined Ansar Beit al-Maqdis based in the restive Sinai of eastern Egypt but broke off after the group pledged allegiance to the ISIS group in November 2014.
Known by his nom de guerre "Abu Omar al-Muhajir", Ashmawy announced the formation of an al-Qaeda-aligned group, Al-Mourabitoun in Libya, in July 2015.