Mahmoud Ezzat, acting leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was arrested in Cairo on Friday on charges of terrorism and financial crimes.
Ezzat, 76, became the acting “Supreme Guide” of the Muslim Brotherhood after the official leader of the organization, Mohamed Badie, was arrested and sentenced to life in prison without parole, along with several other high-ranking members. The Muslim Brotherhood briefly controlled the Egyptian government during the “Arab Spring” uprisings, but President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi banned it in Egypt after taking power in a 2013 coup.
Ezzat served prison time with Badie from 1965 to 1974 and rose to the position of Deputy Supreme Guide under Badie’s influence. Ezzat has been characterized as a “hardliner” in the Brotherhood and an “iron man” top-down leader.
Prior to his arrest, Ezzat was convicted in absentia for a number of terrorist attacks, including the assassination of former Egyptian Attorney General Hisham Barakat in 2015, and an August 2019 car bomb attack that killed 20 civilians. He has twice been sentenced to death on charges of spying for the terrorist organization Hamas. He will likely be retried on all charges now that he is in custody.
Ezzat was arrested Friday in a raid on a Cairo apartment that also seized a laptop and encrypted mobile phones, which the authorities say he was using to direct Muslim Brotherhood activities. The police say he was planning acts of terrorism and sabotage.
“Ezzat was charged with cyberwar that was launched by the group members on social media platforms in order to create chaos in the society. He [was] also charged with financing the group members to carry out terrorist attacks,” Egypt Today wrote on Friday.
The Muslim Brotherhood denies being involved in terrorist activity and claims the Egyptian government is persecuting it for political reasons.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry described Ezzat as the “acting supreme leader of an international terrorist organization” and said the police were able to track him down “despite incessant rumors circulated by officials of the Brotherhood about his presence abroad.”