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Sisi asks for return of jihadist leader held in Libya

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi asked Thursday for a suspected jihadist leader and former Egyptian special forces officer captured this week in Libya to be handed over to his country.

Forces of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who supports an administration vying for power with Libya’s UN-backed unity government, have said they arrested Hisham el-Ashmawy on Monday in the eastern city of Derna.

“We want him to serve time in prison,” Sisi said in a televised speech on the sidelines of a military conference.

A spokesman for Haftar’s forces, who are backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, said Ashmawy was an alleged member of jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and wanted over the attempted assassination of an ex-interior minister in September 2013.

Ashmawy left the Egyptian army in 2012 and joined Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, based in the eastern Sinai Peninsula.

He is believed to have gone to Libya in 2013, before Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.

He is accused of being behind attacks in Egypt’s Western Desert.

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