Egyptian sentenced to prison for joining Islamic State fighters

A Cairo court sentenced a man to 15 years in prison on Saturday for joining Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Prosecutors said that between June 30, 2013 and November 23, 2013, the man joined a “terrorist group” outside Egypt, referring to Islamic State fighters, and received military training.

Fighting terrorism has been high on Egypt’s agenda over the past years. In July 2013, a militant insurgency gripped Egypt’s Sinai desert, occasionally striking Cairo and other cities.

Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria in November 2014, making Sinai one of the many territories in the region where the militant group has a foothold. Afterwards Ansar rebranded itself Sinai Province.   

In 2014 Islamic State fighters seized large areas of land in Iraq and Syria and the group also has a presence in Libya.

The Libya division of Islamic State fighters abducted 20 Egyptian workers living in Libya in late 2014 and executed them in February 2015. In response, the Egyptian air force launched airstrikes on targets in Libya. Egypt also launched an "extensive investigation" looking into the "crimes" Islamic State fighters "commit against Egyptians.” The investigation also looked into the involvement of Egyptian fighters within the group, a statement by the prosecution said at the time.

According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, as of January 2015, the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria exceeds 20,000, with the Middle East supplying 11,000 of them. Egypt is the source of 360 of those fighters, the report said.

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