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Egypt to try 304 over Brotherhood militant attacks

CAIRO: Egypt’s prosecution has referred 304 suspects including Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Turkey to military trial for allegedly organizing militant groups that claimed several attacks in Cairo last year. The case is one of the largest to link armed attacks with the Muslim Brotherhood movement of Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president toppled by the military in 2013. A prosecution statement on Wednesday said the suspects, many of them abroad, had set up the Hassam militant group that claimed responsibility for several assassinations and attacks in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

Morsi’s ouster ushered in a crackdown that decimated the Islamist movement and killed hundreds of his followers, and set off a jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds of security personnel. “The accused, after many Brotherhood leaders were arrested, agreed to revive armed operations,” a prosecution statement said. It also accused them of establishing Lewaa al-Thawra, another group that surfaced in 2016 to claim several attacks in Cairo, including the assassination
of an army general in October. The suspects include Brotherhood leaders and activists who fled the crackdown to Turkey, the statement said.

The Brotherhood, once Egypt’s largest opposition movement, has long denied involvement in violence. The group emerged from the 2011 uprising that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak and won a series of elections ending with Morsi’s 2012 presidential victory. Mass protests against the divisive Islamist prompted the army to overthrow him a year later. Since then, an extensive crackdown on the group has left it in disarray with competing wings that have disagreed on whether to use violence, after police quashed their protests. Analysts say a section of the Brotherhood has encouraged armed attacks against policemen in Egypt.

Most attacks in Egypt have been carried out by the jihadist Islamic State group, which views the Brotherhood as heretics. But over the past year, Hassam and Lewaa al-Thawra claimed several attacks and bombings that targeted police officials and judges. The groups have not announced their affiliation to the Brotherhood in any statements. But Lewaa al-Thawra, when declaring responsibility for the assassination of the military general, said it was partly to avenge the killing of Brotherhood leader Mohamed Kamal by police. Kamal, a member of the Brotherhood’s executive council, was accused by the prosecution of having set up the militant groups. He was killed in a police raid in October.–AFP

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