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66 on Trial on Charges of Forming ISIS Branch in Upper Egypt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian soldiers stand on top of an armored personnel carrier at a military checkpoint on the Egyptian side of Rafah, in the northern Sinai, on August 10, 2012. (AFP)

Cairo – The trial of 66 suspects on charges of forming an armed group in Egypt kicked off at a criminal court on Tuesday.

The suspects, who are affiliated with the ISIS terrorist organization, were seeking to form a branch of the group in Upper Egypt.

They were plotting to stage attacks against Christians and security forces, said the prosecution.

ISIS had formally announced its presence in Egypt with the formation of the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group that swore allegiance to the terrorist organization in November 2014. It has announced its responsibility for several terror attacks, the majority of which were carried out in northern Sinai.

Tuesday’s case involved 43 suspects held in custody, while the rest are still at large. They include two women, who are suspected of funding the group.

The charges against the suspects include forming, leading and joining an organization that was established in violation of the law for the purpose of obstructing the constitution and state institutions and hindering public authorities from carrying our their duties.

They are accused of violating the personal freedom of citizens and harming national unity and social peace.

The suspects permitted the shedding of Christian blood and targeting of public establishments in order to topple the state and destabilize public order.

They knowingly resorted to terrorism to achieve their goals, said the prosecution.

In addition, they are charged with the possession of arms, manufacturing of explosives and preparation to commit terrorist acts.

One of the suspects, Mustafa Abdul Aal, is charged with forming eight cluster cells linked to the terrorist group. The cells were located in the districts of Cairo, Giza, Kafr al-Sheikh, Bani Sweif, al-Minya and Aswan.

The prosecution added that all members of the cell had pledged their allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A number of the detainees had confessed that leaders of the organization had provided them with the necessary financial support to set up training camps on the use of weapons and explosives.

Any ruling against the suspects can be appealed.