The United Kingdom has listed militant groups Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra as terrorist organizations after deciding that they meet “the criteria for proscription,” according to a statement released by the British Embassy in Cairo on Friday.
The decision was based on a review evidence of attacks carried out by Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra against Egyptian security personnel and public figures, the statement added.
“We said we will not leave Egypt alone in the frontline in its battle against terrorism and we meant it. Today we use the full force of UK law against two terrorist groups,” UK ambassador to Egypt John Casson stated.
Both Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra have carried out a number of armed attacks against police and military personnel in recent years.
In October, Hassm claimed responsibility for an alleged attack on the Myanmar Embassy in Cairo. In May, it also claimed responsibility for a drive-by shooting in Nasr City that killed two commissioned police officers and one enlisted officer stationed at a checkpoint.
A month later, the Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the group, after Hassm announced one year since its formation. At the time, Hassm, which became active in 2016, claimed that it had carried out five assassinations, two attacks using car bombs and five others using explosives, along with two armed attacks. It claimed that these operations have killed 27 people and injured 56 others.
Lewaa al-Thawra is an Egypt-based militant group that was formed in August 2016, three years after the violent dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo, which left over 1,000 people dead. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on security personnel since. The assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaei, the chief of the Armed Forces’ ninth armored division, in November marked Lewaa al-Thawra’s most significant operation to date.
In August, the spokesperson for Lewaa al-Thawra, Salah Eddin Youssef, denied any official organizational links to the Muslim Brotherhood in the first part of an interview with Qaaf, a Facebook page that reports on the activities of Egyptian militant groups. In the second part, he referred to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and Taliban leader Abu Mossab al-Soury as two of the group’s ideological points of reference.
Youssef’s statements were a response to the widely held belief that Lewaa al-Thawra is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, a belief held regarding Hassm as well.
In its Friday statement, however, the British embassy made no mention of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt in the aftermath of the ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
At the time, Egypt exerted pressure on the UK government to ban the Muslim Brotherhood as well, but after a long-delayed review that began in 2013, the British prime minister announced in December 2015 that the Muslim Brotherhood will not be banned even though it has an “ambiguous relationship with violent extremism.”