Small Wars Journal

Libyan Forces Detain Former Egyptian Army Commander Wanted in Attacks

Libyan Forces Detain Former Egyptian Army Commander Wanted in Attacks by Jared Malsin and Amira El-Fekki – Wall Street Journal

Libyan forces captured a former Egyptian army commander wanted for a series of deadly attacks in Egypt, a boost for Cairo as it struggles to put down an Islamist insurgency.

Libyan militias allied with Egypt detained Hisham Ashmawy, a former special-forces officer who defected to join Islamist insurgents, in the eastern Libyan city of Derna.

Mr. Ashmawy became one of the most significant figures in a slow-burning war between the Egyptian government and militant groups who have killed hundreds of members of the security forces and civilians in recent years. Those groups include a local branch of Islamic State, other radical organizations and defectors from the Egyptian armed forces.

Egypt’s military on Monday said its security forces killed 52 suspected militants in North Sinai, part of a large-scale operation that started in February.

Mr. Ashmawy is believed to have joined a local insurgency in Sinai following Egypt’s 2011 uprising, allying with a group that has waged war on the Egyptian state for years. He broke with the group after it pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014, taking refuge in Libya and putting him out of reach of Egyptian authorities.

When he joined the insurgents, Mr. Ashmawy brought with him a military expertise that made him one of the country’s deadliest terrorists. He has been accused of recruiting other Egyptian military officers, but the number of other defectors isn’t publicly known…

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