Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1319, (10 - 16 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Failed assassination

Hasm terrorist movement claimed responsibility for this week’s failed assassination attempt on judge Ahmed Abul-Fotouh, Ahmed Morsy reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Ahmed Abul-Fotouh, a judge involved in one of the trials of former president Mohamed Morsi, survived an assassination attempt on Friday when a parked car was detonated as Abul-Fotouh drove in Cairo’s Nasr City district. The blast caused no injuries.

The obscure extremist group Hasm (Decisiveness) claimed responsibility for Friday’s blast. It posted a statement saying it had targeted “the regime’s dog and one of the hell’s judges using a car bomb near his house”.

The statement continued: “To every unjust judge, you still have a chance to leave this polluted swamp referred to as the judiciary."

The little-known militant group then threatened further attacks.

Abul-Fotouh was a member of the three-judge panel that in April 2015 found Morsi guilty of inciting violence that led to the death of 10 people in clashes with security forces in December 2012 and sentenced him to 20 years in jail.

“God alone saved me from death. I ask God to direct their plots and schemes on them,” Abul-Fotouh told the media. “The force of the explosion blew my car 20 metres.”

Abul-Fotouh added he had requested an armoured car and safer house, complaining that travelling in his own car without a driver or guard has put him at risk.

Hasm has claimed responsibility for five other operations, most of them failed assassination attempts. In October the group said it was behind the failed assassination attempt at deputy prosecutor-general Zakaria Abdel-Aziz’s life. The attack on Abdel-Aziz’s convoy, which also used a car bomb, took place in the First Settlement district of New Cairo on 30 September.

The militant group was also behind August’s failed attempt on the life of former mufti Ali Gomaa. Four masked gunmen exchanged fire with Gomaa’s bodyguards as he was on his way to Al-Fadel Mosque in 6 October city, some 50 metres from his house, to lead Friday prayers. The cleric escaped unharmed though one of his security guards was injured in the ensuing crossfire.

The group staged its first operation in July, killing a policeman in Fayoum.

Following the attack on Gomaa, the former grand mufti linked his assailants with both Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Several military experts jumped to the same conclusion. Security expert Khaled Okasha says it is very likely Hasm is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

The Interior Ministry has pushed the same line.  “Information and monitoring show that the Muslim Brotherhood is expanding its organisational structure to include militant entities with new names like Lewaa Al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade) and Hasm which serve as a front for its terrorist activities,” the ministry said in a statement issued on Friday.

Two weeks ago Lewaa Al-Thawra claimed responsibility via Twitter for the assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaai, 52, a commander in the Ninth Armoured Division killed outside his home in Obour city, 35km north-east of Cairo.

The Interior Ministry has released a video of detained members of the two groups reading out confessions. Among them are Nabil Al-Dessouki Mohamed, accused of the attempted assassination of the deputy prosecutor-general, and Moemen Abdel-Gawad, thought to be behind the attack on the former grand mufti.

The ministry has also accused Muslim Brotherhood member Ali Bateekh, currently in Turkey, of masterminding the terrorist attacks through the General Command of the Armed Committees, an organisation that it says promotes jihadi ideology and trains the group members in bomb-making and the use of arms.

On Saturday, Sinai-based terrorist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the murder of Brigadier-General Hisham Mohamed, killed in Arish following Friday prayers.

“Three armed terrorist elements opened fire on Brigadier-General Hisham Mohamed, one of the heroes of the Armed Forces, in front of his house in Arish after performing Friday prayers, resulting in his martyrdom,” said the official spokesperson of the Armed Forces.

Mohamed is the third military officer to be targeted recently.

Since the ouster of Morsi as president in 2013 Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State’s branch in North Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, during which hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed. Though Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis is at the forefront of militant groups launching attacks against security targets, other smaller militant groups — like Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra — have recently emerged, claiming responsibility for attacks.

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