CAIRO — Egypt’s interior ministry stated Friday that a safety solutions raid on a Cairo apartment had captured Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, who had been on the run for 7 many years.
The capture of Mr. Ezzat, 76, was the uncommon arrest of a senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest and biggest political motion, which has been crushed by a fierce wave of state-led repression in latest many years.
Because the military takeover that ousted Egypt’s to start with democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, most Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been cast into the country’s crowded highest-safety prisons or forced into exile. Mr. Ezzat was the exception.
A deputy to the Brotherhood’s leader, Mohammed Badie, Mr. Ezzat was appointed as an acting leader in 2013 soon after Mr. Badie was arrested. He promptly vanished from public see, and lots of Egyptians supposed he had fled to Turkey, which is residence to lots of exiled Brotherhood leaders and media retailers.
Alternatively, he was in Egypt for at least some of that time. In the statement issued on Friday, the authorities stated he had been captured by officers from the Nationwide Safety Company at an apartment utilized by the Brotherhood in the Fifth Settlement, an upmarket district of eastern Cairo shut to the American University in Cairo.
The authorities stated they identified computer systems and telephones with encryption software package utilized by Mr. Ezzat to talk with Brotherhood members in Egypt and abroad. They did not say when he was arrested.
A photograph distributed by the interior ministry showed a frail searching guy in his 70s, recognized as Mr. Ezzat, sitting at a table and sporting a track jacket.
Mr. Ezzat joined the Brotherhood in the 1960s and invested time in prison all through the rule of presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Hosni Mubarak. Because 2013 he has been convicted in absentia on terrorism-connected expenses and twice sentenced to death. Below Egyptian law, he will now encounter retrial below the identical expenses.
In hiding, Mr. Ezzat struggled to exert influence in excess of the group as it was driven underground by the Egyptian authorities. Below Egypt’s existing president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, tens of 1000’s of political opponents, generally Brotherhood supporters, have been detained in the country’s crowded prisons, generally on dubious expenses, in accordance to human rights groups.
Mr. Ezzat’s influence was more weakened by inner schisms driven by disputes in excess of irrespective of whether the group need to consider up arms to oppose Mr. el-Sisi. Lots of younger supporters had been incensed soon after the Egyptian safety forces killed in excess of 800 men and women, generally Brotherhood supporters, in August 2013 as Mr. el-Sisi consolidated his electrical power.
Whilst the Muslim Brotherhood formally disavows violence, splinter groups have carried out sporadic attacks in latest many years, generally bomb and gun attacks focusing on the safety forces on the outskirts of Cairo.
On Friday, the interior ministry stated it had identified paperwork at Mr. Ezzat’s hiding spot that indicated the Brotherhood’s “destructive strategies,” the statement on Friday stated devoid of supplying more detail.
But Abdelrahman Ayyash, a researcher on Islamist movements, stated that Mr. Ezzat had remained committed to the policy of nonviolence. Mr. Ezzat led the much more conservative wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ayyash stated on Twitter. “But when it comes to violence, Ezzat and his males had been wholeheartedly towards it.”
In spite of the harsh crackdown on the motion, Mr. el-Sisi routinely blames the Brotherhood for Egypt’s woes, and government officials often tar any critics as Brotherhood sympathizers, generally with small evidence. Mr. Morsi, the ousted president, died in prison final yr amid accusations from his relatives that the authorities had deliberately failed to deal with his illnesses.