Cairo ( Associated Press) – Egyptian authorities on Saturday announced the arrest of a key member of a US-designated terrorist group. According to state media, the suspect was taken into custody after a plane bound from Sudan to Turkey made an emergency landing in Egypt.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that a man named Hossam Menofi was arrested earlier this week, but did not provide further details.
A man by that name is believed to be a member of HASM, a group previously implicated in several deadly terrorist attacks in Egypt. Officials also say HASM was responsible for a car bombing outside an Egyptian hospital that killed 20 people in 2019.
HASM, which the United States designated a terrorist group in 2018, is considered a fragment of the Muslim Brotherhood group. Egypt has long banned and declares the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Egypt has been campaigning against the Brotherhood since the country’s military removed President Mohamed Morsi from the group in 2013 following massive protests against his rule. Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, thousands of Brotherhood members, but also other Islamists and many secular dissidents, have been jailed. Al-Sisi’s government also continues to fight Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
Menofi was sentenced to life in absentia along with hundreds of others in 2017 for their alleged involvement in the attempted murder of a top judiciary official, according to the government-run al-Akhbar al-Youm newspaper. HASM also claimed responsibility for an attack that killed an official of Egypt’s National Security Agency and an attack that attempted to kill Grand Mufti Ali Goma, Egypt’s former top religious leader.
A statement on Friday from Badr Airlines, an airline based in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, which was operating a flight to Istanbul on Wednesday, confirmed the arrest of a passenger upon landing in Egypt, without naming the person.
The airline said a smoke alarm had accidentally sounded in the plane’s cargo hold, forcing it to land in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor. Once there, passengers got off the plane to wait for a replacement, and were subject to Egyptian border control procedures, Badr Airlines said.