US lists Lewaa al-Thawra and Hassm as terrorist organizations, citing Muslim Brotherhood links

The United States State Department designated militant groups Lewaa al-Thawra and Hassm as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) on Wednesday.

In its Wednesday statement, the State Department noted that “some of the leaders of the violent splinter groups, Lewaa al-Thawra and Hassm, were previously associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.”

“These designations target key terrorist groups and leaders — including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel. Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is quoted as saying in the statement.

The designation will block the assets of Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra and prevent US nationals from dealing with them.  

The British government previously listed both groups as terrorist organizations in December.

In August 2017, the spokesperson for Lewaa al-Thawra, Salah Eddin Youssef, denied that his group shared any organizational links with the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview with Qaaf, a Facebook page that reports on the activities of Egyptian militant groups. Youssef did, however, also refer to the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna, and Taliban leader Abu Mossab al-Soury, as two of Lewaa al-Thawra’s ideological points of reference.

Both Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra have carried out a number of armed attacks against police and military personnel in recent years.

In October of last year, Hassm claimed responsibility for an alleged attack on the Myanmar Embassy in the central Cairo district of Zamalek, which the embassy itself later denied. The group also claimed responsibility for a May drive-by shooting in Nasr City, a neighborhood in east Cairo, which killed two commissioned police officers and one enlisted officer stationed at a checkpoint. The Egyptian government has since intensified its crackdown on the group, which is based in Egypt and initially became active in 2016.

Lewaa al-Thawra has also claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on security personnel since its 2016 inception, including the assassination of Brigadier General Adel Ragaei in October 2016. As the former head of the Armed Forces’ Ninth Armored Division, Ragaei’s assassination marked the group’s most significant operation to date.

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