The Cairo Criminal Court ordered a media gag Friday on the case of 213 alleged members of the militant group Ansar Beit Al–Maqdis, state media reported.
The group now calls itself “State of Sinai” in response to a call made by Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, to whom the group officially pledged allegiance last year.
The gag prohibits the publication of any information or documents related to investigations on the case. The first trial session is to take place on 5 March, with representatives of media outlets allowed to cover the session.
The prosecution accused the group of committing 51 terrorist crimes, leaving 40 policemen and 15 civilians dead and 348 injured.
These include: the attempted assassination of Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim; the assassination of Homeland Security Officer Mohamed Mabrouk, the lead witness in the Wadi Al-Natrun case in which former president Mohamed Morsi is accused of spying for the Gaza Strip governing movement Hamas; the assassination of Mohamed Al-Saied, head of the Minister of Interior’s technical office, who was shot and killed by unknown militants; and the deadly bombings of the security directorates of Cairo, Daqahleya and South Sinai.
According to state media, preliminary investigations by the prosecution showed the defendants “received military training at camps related to Al-Qassam Brigades and keeping contact with leading figures of Al-Qaeda”. This was to be used to plot the attack on ships passing through the Suez Canal.
Investigations also showed that the defendants embraced the radical ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. The defendants also planned to “attack security points surrounding the Rabaa Al–Adaweya sit in, as well as targeting police officers working for the Homeland Security apparatus”.
Morsi’s ouster in July 2013 was followed by a surge in militancy across the country, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula. Founded in 2011, the militant group, which was also designated a terrorist organisation by the US on 9 April 2014, has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks throughout the past few months.