Forces loyal to Libya’s Haftar nab Egypt army defector

By Hussein Mohamed

CAIRO (AA) – Forces loyal to Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar have arrested a former Egyptian officer who defected from the army after Egypt’s 2013 military coup, according to a Haftar spokesman.

"The Egyptian terrorist [and former army officer] Hisham Ashmawi was arrested early Monday in a military operation carried out in the Libyan city of Derna," Ahmed al-Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar (who is backed by Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament), said in a statement.

Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency, along with several Libyan media outlets, has confirmed Ashmawi's arrest.

Egypt’s state-run press has called Ashmawi "one of the most dangerous terrorist elements on Libyan soil”.

State daily Akhbar al-Youm recently described him as “the emir” of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Murabitin group in Derna (which was briefly held by the Daesh terrorist group in 2014/15).

According to media accounts, Ashmawi left Egypt four years ago in the immediate wake of the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely-elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.