[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Monday ruled that the militant organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis [BBC backgrounder] be officially considered a terrorist group. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which means “Warriors of Jerusalem,” has claimed responsibility [IANS report] for the majority of attacks on Egyptian military and police that have occurred since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted [JURIST report] in July. Last Wednesday, the US Department of State [official website] also designated [press release] Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as a terrorist organization. The group has claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began. The military said that this designation will not change its strategy toward fighting the group, but it will make punishments more harsh [Egypt Daily News report] for members of the group who are captured.
Political conflict and concerns over terrorism in Egypt has been ongoing since the 2011, when former president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] was ousted from power. Much of that conflict has occurred recently between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood [official party website, JURIST news archive] and supporters of the government currently in place, especially since the Brotherhood’s formal ban [JURIST report] in September. Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the new Egyptian anti-terror law set to be approved by interim president Adly Mansour [BBC profile]. The law, passed in response to the attack on Cairo University for which Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed most of the responsibility, is aimed at deterring the recent escalation of terrorist violence in Egypt during its transition following the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Included in the amendments to the law are provisions increasing the penalties for those acts deemed as “terrorist acts” as well as provisions broadening the scope of the law itself. AI called upon Mansour to reject the draft laws which were passed [JURIST report] earlier this month.