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Egypt militant returned from Libya back on trial: media

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An image grab taken from state-run television station Al-Masriya on May 29, 2019 shows Hisham Al-Ashmawy escorted by members from Egypt’s intelligence service. (AFP)
An Egyptian militant captured in Libya and returned to Cairo was put on trial again Tuesday over five terror attacks, including one for which he has already received a death sentence in absentia, according to local media.

Hisham Al-Ashmawy — one of the country’s most-wanted militants — “is accused of carrying out terror operations against the army, police forces and civilians” killing 54 people in total, news website Ahram reported.

His retrial was being held in a military court, the site said.

He was sentenced to death in 2017 in absentia by an Egyptian military court over his involvement in attacking and killing soldiers at a checkpoint near the porous border with Libya.

Authorities have also linked Ashmawy with high-profile attacks including a 2013 assassination attempt on then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim and the 2015 killing of a top public prosecutor.

The militant was flown back to Cairo in May, after being handed over by Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar whose forces captured him in 2018 in the eastern city of Derna.

Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognized government in Tripoli, seized the city of Derna last summer. His forces are backed in particular by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

A former officer with Egypt’s special forces, Ashmawy was dismissed in 2012 over concerns about his religious views.

He joined the Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis but broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the ISIS group in November 2014.

Known by his nom de guerre “Abu Omar Al-MuHajjir,” Ashmawy announced the formation of an Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Mourabitoun in Libya in July 2015.

He is also accused of being behind attacks in Egypt’s Western Desert region.

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