The Cairo Criminal Court designated Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, now known as “State of Sinai”, as a terrorist organisation, according to a request from the Prosecutor General.
The verdict was issued as a result of a trial which sought to list it as a terrorist organisation and placing its alleged founder and seven other members on the same list.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the trial of 213 defendants allegedly belonging to the same group to 3 May. In the meantime, defence lawyers for those who do not have lawyers will be appointed, whilst also sending some of them to the prison hospital, state media reported.
The defendants are accused of committing 54 crimes, including killing policemen, the attempted killing of the former Interior Minister, and bomb explosions in several security facilities. They were also charged with belonging to foreign and terrorist organisations, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as violating personal rights and freedoms.
Formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, “State of Sinai” is a militant group based in North Sinai, which has claimed responsibility for many attacks in the Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid areas. The group’s attacks have been on the rise in the wake of former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013.
The group claimed the killing of two people, including conscript Ahmed Fathy Aboul Fotouh, and another individual, in footage that was released Friday via their official Twitter account. Aboul Fotouh belonged to Battalion 37 in the area of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, and was allegedly captured on 2 April. The video showed the killing of the conscript with gunshots, and the decapitation of the second victim.
However, after the banning of the group by the Court for Urgent Matters in August, the Egyptian authorities, along with the Ministry of Interior, have arrested thousands of civilians on mere suspicion of belonging to the banned group.