CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday the arrest of a prominent member of a U.S.-designated terrorist group. According to government media, the suspect was detained after a Turkey-bound flight from Sudan that he was on made an emergency landing in Egypt.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that a man, identified as Hossam Menoufy, had been arrested earlier in the week but did not provide further details.
A man with that name is known to be a member of HASM, a group previously implicated in several deadly militant attacks in Egypt. Authorities also say that 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 to be a splinter of the Muslim Brotherhood group. Egypt has long banned and declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Egypt has been waging a campaign against the Brotherhood since the country’s military in 2013 removed President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the group, after massive protests against his rule. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, thousands of Brotherhood members but also other Islamists and many secular dissidents have been jailed. El-Sissi’s government has also continued to fight Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
Menoufy was sentenced in absentia in 2017 to life in prison, along with hundreds of others, for alleged involvement in the attempted assassination of a top judiciary official, according to the government-run Al-Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper. HASM also claimed responsibility for the attack that killed an Egyptian National Security Agency officer and an attack that attempted to kill Egypt’s former top religious leader, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa.
A statement Friday from Badr Airlines, an airline based in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum which was operating the flight Wednesday to Istanbul, confirmed the arrest of a passenger upon landing in Egypt, without naming the person.
The airline said a smoke alarm had gone off in error 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 subjected to Egyptian border control procedures, Badr Airlines said.