An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced to death by hanging 22 Islamist militants for 54 attacks including the attempted assassination of a former interior minister, a judicial source told AFP.
The men were found guilty of committing 54 “terrorist operations” across Egypt, including the murder of a senior police officer as well as trying to kill former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
Executions in Egypt for civilians are carried out by hanging. Those sentenced to death include a former police officer, and the verdicts cannot be appealed.
The 22 convicted were found guilty of being members of the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.
The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest appeals court, also upheld prison sentences of 118 others in the same case, ranging from terms of several years to life imprisonment.
Egypt has for years been fighting a bitter insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the army’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants focused on North Sinai.
Around 1,073 suspected militants and dozens of security personnel have been killed since the start of operations, according to official figures.
Earlier this month, Egypt agreed with Israel to boost its troop numbers around the border town of Rafah in order to quell IS militants.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fighters in Sinai were led by Hisham al-Ashmawy, an ex-special forces officer.
Ashmawy –- once dubbed Egypt’s “most wanted man” — split from the militants after they switched allegiance from Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State group.
In 2018, Ashmawy was captured in the eastern Libya city of Derna, and extradited to Cairo. He had been on trial with the 22 men sentenced on Thursday, but had already been found guilty, and was executed in March 2020.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country, recorded the third most executions in the world — behind China and Iran according to Amnesty International. In 2020, Egyptian authorities executed at least 107 people, Amnesty said.