Egypt’s prosecutor general Saturday referred to trial 200 alleged members of the Al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, accusing them of “terrorism” for launching deadly attacks against security forces, judicial sources said.
It would be the first mass trial of jihadists in Egypt since the military deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July last year.
The Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Partisans of Jerusalem, has claimed responsibility for some of the bloodiest attacks against Egypt’s security forces since Morsi’s overthrow.
The date for the trial has yet to be fixed, but of the 200 accused, 102 are in custody and the rest are on the run, the sources said.
Those who face trial are accused of “belonging to a terrorist group, espionage on behalf of (the Palestinian movement) Hamas, criminal attacks, and terrorism,” including deadly bombings targeting police headquarters in Cairo, Mansoura in the Nile Delta and South Sinai.
They are also accused of killing three high-ranking police officials, among them an aide to interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim who himself was targeted by a suicide car bomb in September last year.
The attacks allegedly carried out by the accused, who include some operational leaders, resulted in the deaths of 40 policemen and 14 civilians, the sources said, adding another 348 were wounded.
According to the charges, investigators also found the accused had been in touch with Morsi during his presidency, the sources said.
The military-installed authorities have previously accused Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of having links to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.
Egypt has been rocked by a wave of militant attacks since Morsi’s overthrow, with Ansar Beit al-Maqdis carrying out bombings and shootings in the Sinai Peninsula, Cairo and the Nile Delta.
The group had also claimed the killing of five soldiers when it shot down a military helicopter in the restive Sinai on January 24, a day before the third anniversary of the revolt against long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has been declared as a “terrorist group” by Egypt, the United States and Britain.