The Giza Criminal Court referred the papers of 13 defendants to the Grand Mufti in the trial of “Ajnad Misr” to review their death sentences. On 7 December, the court will issue the final verdict and decide the fate of the rest of the defendants.
The case includes a total of 44 defendants, who are accused of establishing a terrorist group and of targeting and killing a number of security forces. Late Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat referred the defendants to the Giza Criminal Court based on evidence of targeting security personnel in different areas nationwide.
They are charged of conducting at least 20 bomb attacks in Egypt. In April 2015, the Giza Criminal Court imposed a media gag on the case. Defendants are accused of killing security personnel, as well as undertaking acts of vandalism and possession of weapons. Some of the defendants are accused of attacking the Egyptian Coptic Christian community
Ajnad Misr was reportedly formed in 2014, but their activities have been limited.
There are two other trials with the same name.
The US department of state officially designated Ajnad Misr as a “specially designated global terrorist” in 2014, describing it as a “violent extremist group that splintered from Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis (now known as Sinai Province).” It has been also designated a terrorist organisation since May 2014 by a Cairo Court verdict.
The group claimed responsibility for a number of significant attacks, the most recent of which is the Roxy Square explosion on 16 July 2015 in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, which left one police officer injured. They also claimed a bomb attack in early April in the Zamalek district, which resulted in the death of one police officer.
Ajnad Misr justified their targeting of security personnel in a January 2015 video by claiming that the attacks came in retaliation for “all sorts of crimes against the people”. Their strategy included vowing to attack a target, followed by the release of teasers and either a video documenting the operation or a statement narrating the attack.
The group asserts it follows Islam only and “not any group of movement inside Egypt or outside”. It also accused the Egyptian state of “killing Muslims”.
However, Ajnad Misr is not the only radical Islamist group being prosecuted by the Egyptian state on charges of terrorism.
Another high profile group with members on trial is Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. The group changed its name after having officially pledged allegiance to “Islamic State”.
Bombings have become a frequent occurrence across Egypt, with a militant insurgency at its peak in North Sinai and other attacks frequently occurring in Greater Cairo and other governorates.
One of the most recent assassination that targeted a high-profile figure was that of former Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat in June 2016. Barakat died on the same day in Nozha Hospital due to injuries sustained in the attack.