Egypt sentences notorious militant Hisham Ashmawy to death

In this May 29, 2019 file frame grab from Egyptian State Television, a blindfolded Hisham el-Ashmawi, a prominent Egyptian militant is escorted by Egyptian military officers and placed in a vehicle after being taken off a military plane at an airport in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
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Updated 02 March 2020

Egypt sentences notorious militant Hisham Ashmawy to death

  • The Cairo criminal court condemned Hisham Ashmawy and 36 co-defendants to hang on 54 charges
  • The death sentences can be appealed

CAIRO: An Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death an ex-special forces officer turned Islamist militant and 36 other extremists over several terror attacks, including an assassination bid on a former interior minister.
The Cairo criminal court condemned Hisham Ashmawy and 36 co-defendants to hang on 54 charges such as leading a terror group and targeting then-interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in a 2013 suicide car bombing, a judicial source told AFP.
Ibrahim survived the bombing near his Cairo home but some 20 policemen and civilians were wounded.
The death sentences can be appealed.
Known locally as the “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis,” after the militant outfit he led in the restive Sinai region, Ashmawy later broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to the Daesh group in November 2014.
He was already sentenced to death in November by a military court over his role in 14 attacks including the 2014 killing of 22 soldiers at a border post with Libya.
Other charges against him included forming an Al-Qaeda aligned militant group in Libya.
In October 2018, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) captured Ashmawy in the eastern city of Derna and flew him back to Egypt last May.
Ashmawy — dubbed Egypt’s “most wanted man” in local media — was an officer with Egypt’s special forces but discharged in 2012 over extremist religious views.
Egypt has for years been fighting a hardened insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the army’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi.
In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.


Lebanon’s death toll increases, historic buildings endangered

Updated 18 min 9 sec ago

Lebanon’s death toll increases, historic buildings endangered

  • The explosion forced nearly 300,000 to leave their homes
  • UNESCO warned that 60 historic buildings were at risk of collapse

DUBAI: Lebanon’s health ministry reported five additional deaths following the devastating Aug. 4, 2020, Beirut blast, increasing the death toll to 177, national Lebanese newspaper Daily Star reported.
It is largely believed a stockpile of ammonium nitrate in warehouse 12 exploded in a fire, initially killing approximately 73 people, but that number has continued to grow since then. 
There was also approximately 6,000 people injured and 300,000 forced out of their homes.
Meanwhile, UN’s cultural agency UNESCO vowed to lead efforts to protect vulnerable heritage in Lebanon, warning that 60 historic buildings were at risk of collapse.
The effects of the blast were felt all over the Lebanese capital but some of the worst damage was in the Gemmayzeh and Mar-Mikhael neighborhoods a short distance from the port. Both are home to a large concentration of historic buildings.
“The international community has sent a strong signal of support to Lebanon following this tragedy,” said Ernesto Ottone, assistant UNESCO Director-General for Culture.
“UNESCO is committed to leading the response in the field of culture, which must form a key part of wider reconstruction and recovery efforts.”
Sarkis Khoury, head of antiquities at the ministry of culture in Lebanon, said there had been at least 8,000 buildings reported as having been impacted by the blast.
“Among them are some 640 historic buildings, approximately 60 of which are at risk of collapse,” UNESCO said in a statement.
“He (Khoury) also spoke of the impact of the explosion on major museums, such as the National Museum of Beirut, the Sursock Museum and the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut, as well as cultural spaces, galleries and religious sites.”
Even before the explosion, there had been growing concern in Lebanon about the condition of heritage sites in Beirut due to rampant construction and a lack of preservation for historic buildings in the densely-packed city.
A UNESCO spokesman said Khoury “stressed the need for urgent structural consolidation and waterproofing interventions to prevent further damage from approaching autumn rains.”
Lebanon’s government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned this week following days of demonstrations demanding accountability for the disaster.