The US has increased sanctions against “Harikat Souaid Misr” (The Arms of Egypt Movement), commonly known as the Hasm Movement, and designated the militant group as a foreign terrorist organisation.
The Hasm Movement had previously been labelled a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT)” in January 2018 for posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism, the US Department of State said in a Thursday statement.
The US statement added that the country had also designated “Yahya Al-Sayyid Ibrahim Musa and Alaa Ali Mohammed Al-Samahi as SDGTs under Section 1(a)(ii)(B) of E.O. 13224 for being leaders of Hasm.”
Alaa Al-Samahi is believed to be the founder of the group, while Yahya Musa is believed to be a leading figure in and the mastermind of the group. Both live in Turkey.
Musa was a Ministry of Health employee during the Muslim Brotherhood’s time in government, and was sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt in 2017 for his involvement in the 2015 assassination of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat.
“All of Hasm’s, Musa’s, and Al-Samahi’s property and interests that are within the United States or that come within the United States or that come within the possession or control of US persons, are blocked,” the statement read, “US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.”
These designations aim to “deny Hasm and its leadership the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks,” according to the statement.
The Egyptian authorities have accused Hasm of being a militant wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Hasm surfaced in 2016 and has, since then, claimed responsibility for several attacks against security forces and government personnel in Cairo and elsewhere in the country. The group claimed responsibility, in 2016, for a deadly bombing in Giza, which claimed the lives of six police personnel and injured a further three.
Also in 2016, the group claimed responsibility for a failed assassination attempt on former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, as well as the assassination attempt on Assistant General Prosecutor Zakareya Abdel Aziz.
In 2017, it claimed responsibility for a small explosion at Myanmar’s Embassy in Cairo, which it said expressed the group’s solidarity with Rohingya Muslims.
On 11 February 2017, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters designated Hasm as a terrorist group.
In a separate statement, the US Department of State amended the terrorist designations for Wilayat Sinai, an Islamic State (IS) affiliated group in Sinai. The amendment includes additional aliases, including designating the group as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Hundreds of police and army personnel have been killed in the last eight years in terrorist attacks, mostly claimed by Wilayat Sinai.
Security forces have announced the arrest and the killing of dozens of suspected elements belonging to the group during security raids over the past years.