An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 22 militants to death for 54 attacks, including an attempted assassination of a former interior minister, a judicial source told AFP.
The men were found guilty of carrying out 54 “terrorist operations” across Egypt, including the murder of a senior police officer as well as attempting to kill former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
Civilians in Egypt are executed by hanging. A former police officer is also among those sentenced to death, and the verdict cannot be appealed.
The 22 convicts were found guilty of being members of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.
Egypt’s highest court of appeal, the Court of Cassation, also upheld the prison sentences of 118 others in the same case, ranging from several years to life imprisonment.
Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai for years that escalated in 2013 after the military ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
In February 2018, the military and police launched a nationwide campaign against militants centered on North Sinai.
According to official figures, around 1,073 suspected terrorists and dozens of security personnel have been killed since the launch of the operation.
Earlier this month, Egypt agreed with Israel to increase its forces around the border city of Rafa to drive out IS militants.
The Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis fighters in the Sinai were led by Hisham al-Asmawi, an ex-Special Forces officer in the Egyptian Army.
Ashmawi – once called Egypt’s “Most Wanted Man” – split from militants after switching allegiance from al-Qaeda to the Islamic State group.
In 2018, Ashmawi was captured in the eastern Libyan city of Darna and extradited to Cairo. He was on trial with 22 people sentenced on Thursday, but had already been found guilty, and was executed in March 2020.
According to Amnesty International, Egypt recorded the third-highest executions in the world, behind China and Iran. In 2020, Egyptian authorities killed at least 107 people, Amnesty said.