Report: Egypt arrests commander of Sinai jihadist group

Walid Waqed Atallah, the most wanted man in Egypt, is the head of Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis, a radical Islamist group that has also claimed credit for launching rockets at Eilat.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
October 17, 2014 22:14
1 minute read.
Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis

A poster issued by Egyptian terrorist group Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Egyptian security forces apprehended the commander of a jihadist terror organization that has killed scores of soldiers and police in the Sinai Peninsula, Sky News' Arabic-language service reported on Friday.

Walid Waqed Atallah, the most wanted man in Egypt, is the head of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a radical Islamist group that has also claimed credit for launching rockets at Eilat as well as executing suspected spies for Israel.

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Atallah became the focus of a massive manhunt by Egyptian security forces after the murder of three policemen who were killed by a roadside bomb.

Earlier this week, Egyptian military forces operating in the Sinai uncovered a large cache of weapons near the border with Israel.

The weapons, which were discovered near the Egyptian side of Rafah, were earmarked for Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis.

It is considered the largest stockpile of enemy weaponry to have been confiscated by Egyptian forces, according to Channel 2. Soldiers discovered five tons of explosives as well as rocket components.

The government of President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi has waged a campaign to crack down on Islamist forces at war with the military since it engineered the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who won a democratic election.

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Earlier on Tuesday, an Egyptian court recommended death sentences for seven men, including a prominent Islamist militant, charged with killing 25 policemen last year in an attack near the border with Israel, a judicial source told Reuters.

He said the court had referred the case to the Grand Mufti, Egypt's highest Muslim authority, whose opinion is typically sought on capital punishment but whose decision can be disregarded.

"The court decided by consensus to send the case to the Grand Mufti," he told Reuters.

The high-profile militant, Adel Habara, was in custody, he said, but he could not immediately say where the others were.
The final ruling is due on Dec. 6, after the Mufti offers his opinion. It can be appealed.

The attack took place in August 2013 following the government's violent clearing of two protest camps in Cairo, where supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi had gathered to demand his reinstatement.

Sisi now faces a growing Islamist insurgency in the lawless Sinai Peninsula adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip.

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