29 May – 4 June: Hisham al-Ashmawy handed over to Egyptian authorities

Jun 4, 2019 | Other Jihadi Actors

On 28 May, the Libyan National Army (LNA) transferred former Egyptian Special Forces officer turned Egyptian jihadist, Hisham al-Ashmawy, over to Egyptian authorities. Ashmawi was captured by LNA forces in Derna on 8 October 2018. Described by some security officials as Egypt’s most wanted man, Al-Ashmawy (also known as Abu Omar Al-Muhajir) joined the Egyptian Armed forces in the 1990s and became a member of the Egyptian Special Forces in 1996, before eventually being expelled from the military follow his radicalization. He then joined a north Sinai militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, that sprung from the 2013 coup against President Mohamed Morsi and purge of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, when this group pledged its allegiance to ISIS in July 2014, Ashmawy split from the group and established his own group that became linked with al-Qaeda. Al-Ashmawy is believed to have led the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) linked Ansar al-Islam militant group and al-Mourabitoun. Ashmawy is thought to have been using Derna as a safe haven from which to springboard into Egypt to launch attacks. Al-Ashmawy is accused of several attacks in Egypt including an assassination attempt on then Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in 2013 and killing a leading Egyptian public prosecutor by car bombing in 2015. An Egyptian court sentenced Ashmawy to death in absentia for his involvement in an attack that killed thirty Egyptian soldiers in 2014.

On 30 May, alleged member of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries Abdel Salam Abou Rzaiza (aka Bou Khashm) was killed in clashes against Libyan National Army (LNA) forces on Tripoli Airport Road, in southern Tripoli. Abou Rzazia is said to have been a member of the SCBR “Warrior Brigade.”Abou Rzazia was reported to have been a member of the Rafallah al-Sahati battalion and participated in the clashes against the forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi from 2014 through to 2016.

On 30 May, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated near the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters in Derna, without any casualties reported.

On 2 June, two vehicle-borne IEDs targeting the LNA’s Awilat al-Dam and Omar al-Mukhtar Operations Room headquarters left as many as 18 people injured. Remnants of Derna Protection Force (DPF) were initially accused of undertaking the attack. However, on 3 June, ISIS claimed responsibility for the 2 vehicle-borne IEDs attacks conducted on 2 June as part of the group’s ongoing “war of attrition.”