73 referred to military trial over belonging to Sinai Province
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis members - YOUM7 (Archive)
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CAIRO: A total of 73 defendants were referred to a military trial by the prosecution over belonging to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, now known as Sinai Province, Monday, Youm7 reported.

The defendants are organizationally linked to the Sinai-based group, and took on recruiting new members across the country by creating clusters of “terrorist cells,” categorizing them into four groups tasked with monitoring, funding, planning and execution, respectively, according to Homeland Security investigations.

The investigations claim the defendants planned to assassinate First Attorney-General of the State Security Prosecution Hesham Badawy and other judges presiding “terrorism-related” cases, and are also implicated in bombing vital facilities in different governorates.

Egypt’s Attorney-General Hisham Barakat was assassinated in June 2015; three judges were shot dead inside a car in Arish in May and two others were killed in an Arish hotel bombing in November 2015.

According to the investigations, the defendants murdered soldiers in North Sinai, assassinated Captain Karim Fouad, an officer at Alamain police station in Matrouh, northwest of Egypt in March 2015.

The defendants will be tried militarily per a 2014 presidential decree stipulating that crimes committed against public facilities such as railways and pylons. Since the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, state-owned facilities have been repeatedly bombed.

Two other high-profile cases, known in the Egyptian media as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis 1 and 2, with a total of 2013 defendants are being deliberated in courts over 51 major attacks, Youm7 reported.

Defendants in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis 1 and 2, however, are tried by civilian courts. They face charges over crimes also included in the latest case. The attacks include the attempted assassination for former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in September 2013 and bombing the security directorates of Cairo, Dakahlia and North Sinai.

The crimes include robbery and carjacking of the vehicles of many Christian citizens and of cash-in-transit vehicles, according to the investigations.

Following a military trial, six convicts were executed in May 2015 for belonging to Sinai Province and the separate killing of police and military officers in March 2014. The group rebranded itself after it pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

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