The United Kingdom decided on Friday that it will add two Egypt-based militant groups to its list of proscribed terrorist organisations, describing the decision as “part of its continuous efforts to strengthen its response to international terrorism.”
The two groups Hasm and Lewaa El-Thawra, which have been active in attacks against Egyptian security personnel and public figures, have been reported by the UK government to meet its criteria for placement on the list.
According to a statement from the British Embassy, UK Ambassador to Egypt John Casson said, “We said we will not leave Egypt alone on the frontline in its battle against terrorism and we meant it. Today we use the full force of UK law against two terrorist groups that have murdered many in Egypt and are the enemy of us all.”
Militant insurgents have been predominantly active in North Sinai, targeting public, police, and army facilities, and have orchestrated several attacks in other cities around Egypt.
Hasm has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in statements circulated online. The movement first appeared in early 2016 and in August, the group said it was behind the failed assassination attempt of former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. In October of the same year, militants driving a black private vehicle opened fire on army leader Adel Ragai, assassinating him in front of his residence in Al-Obour City.
The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks on police forces, calling them revenge operations. Moreover, it claimed that some of the announced police killings of their members were untrue, suggesting the killed individuals were not among group members, but rather citizens previously in police detention.
On 9 July, police forces identified two people, whom the report pronounced as murdered in a gunfire exchange in Sixth of October City, as members of the militant group. The ministry accused a 28-year-old and a 22-year-old of being “Muslim Brotherhood terrorists planning terrorist attacks”, and that they were leading members of the militant group that is being assigned “by their leaders outside the country” to carry out attacks.
According to police reports, Hasm is an armed militant group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group.
The rhetoric of the group drew the attention of the Dar Al-Ifta institution, the governmental entity responsible for issuing religious edicts, which released a statement this June saying that the group is proof that violence is part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology. The statement said that militancy is a strategy in the group’s very basic teachings, which were authored by group leaders like Hassan Al-Banna and Sayyed Qutb.
The Egyptian state accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of hosting and training militant groups, through personnel and financial support. Targeting of police and army personnel has peaked since the ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi.