The Libyan National Army announced on Wednesday, that its forces arrested Egyptian terrorist Safwat Zeidan, a member of al-Qaeda terrorist group and the bodyguard of terrorist Hisham al-Ashmawy, a former Egyptian special forces officer, who was also captured on Monday, in a sting operation in Derna city, east Libya.
Egyptian security officials consider Ashmawy the Emir of Ansar al-Islam and another militant group, al-Mourabitoun.
Both groups have ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the terrorist network’s North and West African affiliate.
While Safwat Zeidan is a leader in Derna council for the group affiliated to al-Qaeda and is concidered one of the most wanted by both the Libyan and Eyptian authorities for his links to deadly ambushes in those countries which he escaped from in 2013 to take shelter in a hideout in Derna.
The Libyan National Army (LNA) deployed in Derna is surrounding other wanted terrorists, among them the military and security leader of al-Qaeda in the north African nation, Abdulaziz Abdulhameed al-Jeebani, and the terrorist organization’s media spokesperson, Mohammad al-Mansouri al-Diska, in addition to the Mufti of the terrorist group, Abu Hafes al-Mauritani, who replaced the former slain mufti Omar Rifae Soroor who was killed last Jume.
The LNA is the dominant force in Libya’s east. A separate UN-backed government rules in the county’s west, while multiple armed groups compete for power seven years after autocrat Muammar Gaddafi was toppled.
The LNA published a picture of Ashmawy with blood on his face, being examined before having bandages applied. It also posted a photo appearing to show his Egyptian military identity card.
An Egyptian military source confirmed Ashmawy’s capture to Reuters, without giving further details.
Ashmawy has been convicted in absentia to death in Egypt for attacks in Egypt, including a 2014 raid in which 22 Egyptian military border guards were killed near the frontier with Libya.
The LNA declared that it had taken control of Derna in June from extremists and other opponents, though sporadic fighting has continued.
Egypt has close relations with the LNA, which is led by Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, and has in the past launched air strikes over Derna, saying it was targeting extremists linked to militant activity inside Egypt.