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Egyptian accused of terrorism charges after returning from Syria

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38 year-old Egyptian had been fighting in Syria alongside the Al-Nusra Front

Prosecution has ordered the detention of an Egyptian citizen, who recently returned from fighting in Syria, for 15 days on terror-related charges.

The 38 year-old man was ordered to be detained by the Suez Prosecution on charges of planning to implement terrorist operations inside Egypt and coordinating with extremist groups, state-run MENA reported.

He is a former employee in a petroleum company in Suez, and returned to Egypt after fighting in Syria alongside the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.

Security forces in Suez apprehended the man, who was reportedly in possession images of the targets and documents relating to the planned operations.

The Ministry of Interior refused to comment on the incident.

Research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies David Barnett, who focuses on Salafi jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, said: “At least four members of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis died in Egypt after returning from Syria. For example, Walid Badr, who was the suicide bomber in the attempted assassination of [Minister of Interior] Mohammed Ibrahim in September, had fought in Syria.”

Barnett added: “Fahmi Abdul Raouf Muhammad and Samir Abdul Hakim, who were suspected of being involved in some of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis’s mainland operations, had both fought in Syria.”

A study in December by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation estimates that between 119 and 358 Egyptians have gone to Syria to fight.

Egyptians who fight in Syria access the conflict-ridden country through Jordan or Turkey, where they pay smugglers to help them enter Syria.

“The majority of Egyptians who continue to partake in the Syria conflict are fighting the [Bashar] Al-Assad regime,” said Barnett. “The exact breakdown of which group they are joining is unknown; however, some are certainly fighting with ISIS and al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front.”

In 2013 Egypt’s foreign ministry established an initiative to repatriate Egyptians inside Syria by flying them back to Cairo from Lebanon.

Egyptian activist Mohamed Mehrez died in 2013 whilst fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army against the Assad regime.

Foreigners travelling to Syria to join the civil war are an issue that diplomats have condemned around the world. Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have moved to prevent this by threatening prison sentences for those who travel to Syria to fight.

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has launched operations inside Syria in support of the Assad regime. It is also believed that Iranian troops are fighting in Syria, also alongside the regime, an accusation that Tehran denies, saying that members of the Iranian armed forces in Syria are present in an advisory capacity.

It has been reported that Europeans and Americans have also travelled to Syria to join the fighting during the three-year civil war.

 

About the authors

Joel Gulhane

News Reporter

Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane


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