Cairo/Benghazi: Top Egyptian militant suspect Hisham Al Ashmawy was transferred to Egypt from eastern Libya in a military aircraft, Egyptian state television said on Wednesday.
Al Ashmawy, a former Egyptian special forces officer, was apprehended in the Libyan city of Derna late last year and has been long sought by Cairo on charges of orchestrating a deadly desert ambush on police and other high-profile attacks.
At least two private Egyptian television channels showed live footage of the military aircraft landing in Cairo airport and a presenter climbed inside to film a blindfolded and ear-muffed Al Ashmawy.
“You’re in Egypt, Hisham,” the anchor said as an intelligence officer removed the ear-muffs. “Welcome back.” Another unidentified detainee could also be seen handcuffed, blindfolded and ear-muffed. Two intelligence sources told Reuters the man was Safwat Zeidan, Al Ashmawy’s personal guard.
Al Ashmawy was then filmed limping towards a black vehicle parked on the tarmac while flanked by two security officers.
The transfer came following a visit by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel to Benghazi where he met with Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar.
Egyptian authorities say Al Ashmawy heads the Ansar Al Islam network, which claimed responsibility for an ambush against police in Egypt’s Western Desert in 2017. Egyptian officials also accuse the network, which they link to Al Qaida, of an assassination attempt on a former interior minister in 2013.
Al Ashmawy has been convicted in absentia to death in Egypt for attacks in Egypt, including a 2014 raid in which 22 Egyptian military border guards were killed near the frontier with Libya.