Saturday, August 1, 2015

Step Aside ABM , Now we got Al-Morabtoon

Another belated post that should have been finished and published from a couple of weeks ago. I have been suffering from a bad blogger’s block and I pushed myself to finish it sooner, but I failed.

On 21 July 2015 , US-based intelligence affairs website “Site Intelligence Group” published news that “an audio attributed to former Egyptian special forces officer-turned Jihadist calls Muslims for Jihad” was released online. The words “former Egyptian special forces officer-turned Jihadist” attracted the attention of Reuters and soon it released the news about in the world.
According to the news former Egyptian special forces-turned Jihadist Hisham Ali Al-Ashmaway ; aka Abou-Omar , the Emir “Prince” of Al-Morabtoon” group released that 6-minutes audio speech on the occasion of Eid El-Fitr calling the people to join Jihad against El-Sisi.
Later Egyptian journalists searched and found that account “@OmanOman53Oman2” published a link of an audio file of that alleged speech at SendSpace Website.

Hours later and the audio file became a video file that found its way on the YouTube with “Al-Morabtoon” watermark.
Here is a copy of the video uploaded by Toto Koko on 22 July. Yes “Toto koko”
Hisham Al-Ashamawy speaks in an audio message.
Now interestingly the name of Hisham Al-Ashmaway and his background were already known for couple weeks now in Egyptian media as leading figure in “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis” {ABM} but I think we should first stop at some important remarks in the video or the audio message. 
  • It started with an introduction from an old speech by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman El-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda black flag is there.This is Al-Qaeda affiliated group announcement, not an ISIS-affiliated group.
  • The speech by the former special forces officer is simply about the importance of Jihad as in fighting tyrannies and calling the Muslims to fight Sis whom he compared to Moses’ pharaoh.
  • He also slammed El-Sisi’s media as the Pharaoh’s wizards who stood against Moses in Egypt. “According to Quran , the pharaoh’s wizards believed in God eventually so I do not know why Islamists keep using this reference”
  • He mentions that there is injustice in the following Islamic countries: Burma “which is not a Muslim country but its Muslim minority suffers from huge discrimination and autocracies by its junta”, Palestine, Iraq and Levant. He did not mention Yemen nor Libya, two countries with very strong Al-Qaeda presence.  
  • When you play the 6-minutes audio file in any audio player or just watch the video on YouTube , you will notice that the album art is two photos showing Abu-Omar aka Hisham Al-Ashmaway in his days as an army officer and allegedly at the current time as a Jihadist fighter in some place despite his face is not clear.
A screen shot showing the Before and After Al-Ashamawy

  • There is a small Nasheed in the end about Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • Al-Ashamawy did not claim the responsibility of any past operation in that release.
  • The most important remark that the audio and then the video statements introduced Hisham El-Ashamawy as the Emir or as the leader of a new Jihadist group called Al-Morabtoon.

This is the second Jihadist  group in North African holding the same name. The first one is located in North Mali and the Sahara and it is affiliated to Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghrab too.
“Al-Morabtoon” in Arabic means in Islamic and Arabic culture “Those who are ready for battle at a fortress”, Historically the term originated from Morocco where it became associated with the Al-Moravid Dynasty “ we pronounce them Al-Morabtoon in Arabic” .   
Now recently “Al-Morabtoon” has a new reference as it refers to that group of Palestinians from all ages in Jerusalem currently protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque night and day against the attack of radical Jewish settlers. This is why I find interesting that Al-Ashamawy and his group use this name and refer to Al-Aqsa mosque in his message at the same time.
It is like using the old rhetoric of Islamist Jihadist movements to attract supporters using the Palestinian cause instead of Big caliphate and Saw movies propaganda

And Hisham says here I am Egypt !!

Egyptian mainstream media began to mention the name of Hisham El-Ashamawy publicly exactly on 1 July when Pro-regime and very close to presidency TV host Ahmed Moussa said on his daily show on Sada El-Balad channel  that El-Ashamawy was the primary suspect in the assassination of late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat late June.
On 2 July, we found Pro-regime websites and newspapers like Al-Watan quoting unnamed security sources about how Al-Ashamawy was involved in the assassination and who he was. Al-Watan also published a 15-facts-you-do-not know about him.
Later that day a media gag order was imposed on the investigation into Barakat’s assassination by the current acting Prosecutor-general.
Nobody spoke about the guy since then till that audio release of Al-Morabtoon after two weeks of the gag order. 
Now those are the concrete facts we are sure from in Egypt seriously speaking.
  • Hisham Ali Mossad Al-Ashamawy joined the Egyptian armed forces in the 1990s where he was selected to join the Special forces aka “The Thunderbolts” .
  • His rank was lieutenant colonel
  • He is a 35 years old married man who used to live in Nasr City. He is married or used to be married to a teacher at Ain Shams University.
  • He is a Salafist Jihadist.
  • He is currently standing a trial in absentia in front of the Cairo Criminal court among 213 defendants in the case known in the media as “The Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis”.
  • He is currently accused 54 criminal acts, among which are forming and running a terrorist organization which aims to disrupt the rule of law and prevent state institutions from carrying out their duties.
  • His photo is shown in the Egyptian official state TV as Terrorist Hisham Ali Al-Ashamawy.
A screenshot for Hisham from Egyptian State TV 
  • He caught the military intelligence’s attention in 2000 when he had a fight with a Quran reader in some mosque because he made a mistake in the Quran recitation. A Fact everybody knows in Egypt that since the assassination of Sadat, the military intelligence in Egypt keeps an eye on religiously committed officers.
  • He leads now allegedly Al-Qaeda affiliated group.
  • He is a main suspect in the attempt to assassinate former minister of interior Mahmoud Ibrahim , the attacks against military checkpoints and points in Farafra “July 2014 , 22 army personnel killed” and North Sinai “including the February 2015, at least 28 army personnel killed” 
Other than that we got three different stories on how he changed from an army officer to someone recognized by the state as a terrorist.

The first story

After the fight with the Quran reader and the military intelligence’s investigation in to the incident, Al-Ashamawy was transferred in to an administrative office job in the armed forces. Despite being transferred , Al-Ashamawy did not stop and began to adopt and spread radical thought.
He stood a military trial in 2007 and then he was discharged in 2011 by a military court order.
After that he began to meet with Jihadists in some mosque in Mataria before forming an “Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis”cell in Cairo at a Mosque built by his father in Nasr city with former police officers where he supervised the training of the recruits. Allegedly he travelled to Syria according to security source in April 2013 where he got training about explosives “ I think he does not need more training” and then returned back allegedly to participate in Rabaa sit-in “despite the fact Salafist Jihadists are against the Muslim Brotherhood and considered Morsi infidel” 
This is somehow the semi-official version spread in the mainstream media.

The second story

It says that Al-Ashamawy was serving in North Sinai till 2009 when his father died while he was in the service and he could not see him for one last time. He got extremely depressed and then he went deep in religion and got radicalized eventually. He got fired in the same year.

The third story

It says that despite religious radical views of Hisham Al-Ashamawy, he continued working in the armed forces where he was transferred or rather demoted from Special forces to the The popular defense forces so he could revise his beliefs. The popular defense forces are a branch made in the armed forces since 1956 Suez war in order to train the public on popular resistance ..etc.
In 2012 He left the army.
This story is actually the testimony of his wife or ex-wife who is an eye-witness in the “ABM” trial.
This version is popular on Facebook pages because it raises questions on how the army let that man continue to work as an officer till 2012.

Back to the statement ,  Al-Ashamawy wanted to declare his defection from ABM and his support to Al-Qaeda to the world as he did not want his name to be associated with the Islamic State and its Sinai-based affiliated group anymore.
I think he did not found a new group but rather took that group in ABM rejecting ISIS back to Al-Qaeda.
Back in November 2014 when the group declared its allegiance to Levant-based Islamic State and its pseudo Caliph, a faction of it denied that and it seemed that there was a fight between the two branches till majority of ABM agreed to join ABM Franchise for financial support after couple of months. 
Now Al-Ashamawy has become another legend now with stories online on how he was not in North Sinai all that time and was actually in Libya receiving treatment. I mean you read posts and articles about how he was special forces genius who got training in the United States and then turned into a villain with action adventures and you feel “okay here we go again”.

Al-Ashamawy is not the first army officer to go this route and surely he won’t be the last. We got a quite bloody history to be precise when it comes to army and police officers who joined radical terrorist organizations since 1970s. I definitely need to need a post about that.

We should be more than worried when we see an army officer joining a terrorist organization and yes we should raise questions on why officers like Al-Ashamawy went that way.

Yes, army and police officers are no different theoretically speaking from any other citizen who is brainwashed or adopts a certain radical ideology, they are human beings after all. They are Egyptian citizens who breathe the same air and subjected to the same culture, politics, economy and media by the end of the day despite the existence of that military life barrier.
Realistically speaking , a defected or ex-officer whether from army or police joining a terrorist organization is much more dangerous than an average civilian citizen in any country thanks to his military and security expertise and knowledge.
After all, You got a man from inside your enemy camp that will help you not only to bring down his camp because he knows every inside out but he also will train your men professionally.
I do not have doubt that he stood behind many of those attacks against army checkpoints in Sinai.
Again I will repeat that historical fact; when Islamic Jihad had a cell inside the Egyptian army, the Egyptian president was assassinated in a military parade.  I think this example is the best evidence for what I want to say.
I am worried that now we got a competition between Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Egypt.
I am worried , very worried that both groups will target that New Suez canal inauguration whether by big operations in Sinai or outside. They won’t come near to Suez canal  with the security measures I believe.  I am worried about the fact that we could be repeating Sadat scenario once again especially with that dream El-Sisi dreamt from 20-years ago.
May God protect this country for real.
By the way, I will seize the opportunity and say that all the laws issued above them protest law against Pro-democracy peaceful activist did not stop terrorism as you can see.

1 comment:

  1. The fourth story.
    He still works for the Army!!!

    He is certainly doing a good job of tarnishing the name of muslims!


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