An Egyptian court has labeled the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, a terrorist organization.
“The court ruled to ban the Qassam Brigades and to list it as a terrorist group,” Judge Mohamed al-Sayid said Saturday in an interview with Reuters.
The decision came as a result of a suit brought by Egyptian attorney Samir Sabri that accused the Qassam Brigades of financing and participating in attacks in Egypt against police, military and other targets. Hamas has diverged from its goal of fighting Israel and now aims to undermine Egypt’s internal security, according to the Egyptian court.
The court’s decision centered on the Qassam Brigades’ alleged involvement in a series of terrorist attacks, including one in October that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. Sabri’s suit also claimed that Hamas’ armed wing smuggled weapons and funds into Egypt through a network of tunnels.
Egyptian security forces expanded their buffer zone along the border with Gaza in November in an effort to crackdown on the terrorist group’s smuggling operations. They claim to have destroyed 1,600 tunnels since President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July 2013.
Egypt’s government blames the Qassam Brigades for the spate of terrorist violence in the Sinai by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Salafi-jihadist group aligned with the Islamic State, which is believed to be responsible for hundreds of attacks in Egypt.
Last May, Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution claimed that 200 suspects tied to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis received training at camps run by the Qassam Brigades.
Last week, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis launched a series of attacks across the northern Sinai that killed 20 people, including civilians, and left 36 wounded. The attacks included a car bomb that detonated outside a military base and a series of mortar rounds that were fired at a hotel and several checkpoints.
Hamas dismissed the decision, labeling it as politics. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhricalled the ruling “dangerous” and claimed it only “serves the Israeli occupation,” also stating that the Qassam Brigades don’t have an interest in interfering with Egypt’s internal affairs.
Hamas deputy political leader Mousa abu Marzook denounced the ruling, calling the current Egyptian regime a “coup against the history, the ethics, and the principles of Egypt,” according to the Ma’an News Agency.
“Historically, the Qassam Brigades has never pointed their rifles at any of our people, especially our big sister Egypt and her army,” Marzook said.
A different court ruling from March banned Hamas from operating in Egypt. That came amid a crackdown on the terrorist group’s parent organization – the Muslim Brotherhood.