The Egypt-based militant group Lewaa al-Thawra dismissed its categorization as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom as “insignificant” in a statement on Saturday evening.
“Resistance movements in Egypt have a clear direction… our goal is to liberate our people and our land, and to regain the rights that were robbed by tyrannical and treacherous regimes,” the group asserted.
The designation of Lewaa al-Thawra and Hassm, another Egypt-based militant group, as terrorists, “classifies those who issued it as the terrorists, not the two movements,” the group said in response to news it was included on the UK’s blacklist on Friday.
“The UK displaced millions of Palestinians through murder and eviction… it is shameful that they talk about terrorism when they practice it themselves and are its founders in the region, represented in the Zionist entity,” Lewaa al-Thawra declared.
The UK Embassy in Cairo said the criteria for the list was based on evidence of attacks carried out by the two groups against Egyptian security personnel.
“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, said.
Lewaa al-Thawra was formed in August 2016, three years after the violent dispersal of two pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo that left over 1,000 people dead. The group has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on security personnel since then. The assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaei, chief of the Armed Forces’ ninth armored division, in November 2016, marked the group’s most significant operation to date.
Egyptian officials have often attempted to draw links between Lewaa al-Thawra and other Islamist militant groups and the Muslim Brotherhood. In August, a spokesperson for Lewaa al-Thawra, Salah Eddin Youssef, denied any official 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 influential Taliban leader Abu Mossab al-Soury as two of the group’s ideological points of reference.
The UK’s blacklist does not include the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt in the aftermath of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013. Egypt exerted pressure on the UK government to ban the Muslim Brotherhood at the time, but after a long-delayed review that began in 2013, the British prime minister announced in December 2015 that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be banned, despite its “ambiguous relationship with violent extremism.”