Attorney General Hisham Barakat ordered the arrest of six Egyptian suspects the government claims belong to Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group most known for its activity in Libya, and to a degree, Tunisia, Youm7 reported Wednesday.
Whether these suspects are believed to be part of the larger Libya-based organization, or a local group with the same name was not made clear.
Barakat claimed the suspects were involved in many criminal attacks, killed 12 police officers and attempted to kill nine other security personnel in the aftermath of the dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in.
Barakat referred 23 alleged members of the group to urgent criminal court Wednesday, including alleged Egyptian founder Al-Sayed Sayed Morsi, 35, a man identified as being unemployed and living in Hehya, Sharqia.
Barakat’s order also included the continued imprisonment of 17 suspects allegedly belonging to the same group.
Retired Major General Talaat Abu Musalam told the Cairo post Thursday that Ansar al-Sharia used the current security situation, the repeated accidents and the tensions on the borders to get into Egypt.”Most likely that this group has some kind of relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but we can’t really evaluate how deep or big the relationship is,” he said.
Specific allegations against Ansar al-Sharia have not been publicly touted by a high-ranking official in the past, but following the deaths of Egyptians killed in the ongoing chaos in Libya, relations between the two countries have soured to an extreme low.
“Investigations on members of Ansar al-Sharia revealed that they received military training outside Egypt to return later and target vital establishments,” Barakat said in a press statement as reported by Youm7.
Barakat added that prosecution investigations and confessions of some suspects indicate that the founder of the group tasked the members to travel to Syria to participate in battles between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and militias, and that they received training in guerilla warfare.
Former assistant defense minister, and former director of the Research and Strategic Studies Center of the Armed Forces, Major General Hossam Sweilm told The Cairo Post Thursday that Ansar al-Sharia is based in Benghazi, in eastern Libya. “They usually work for their own interests, as they made previous alliances with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Libya.”
“Each one of them wants to control different part of the world, so they claim to have different ideology but it’s not true. All of them are using religion to come to power,” Sweilm said, adding, “ISIS was part of Al-Qaeda before they disband to control Syria and Iraq. The differences are not just about names, but about authoritarian interests.”