Egyptian authorities have arrested Mahmoud Ezzat, the acting leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, at an apartment in Cairo during a raid.
The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s oldest and most organized Islamist movement, and this arrest was just the most recent blow to the group that was forcefully removed from power seven years ago.
Ezzat was seen as a hardliner in the group prior to taking power, when he was just a deputy to Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie. After Badie was arrested in 2013, Ezzat quickly took power.
According to a statement from the interior ministry, the apartment where Ezzat was arrested was used as a hide out in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement District.
Ezzat was arrested for receiving illicit funds, and joining and leading a terrorist group. Encrypted communications equipment was seized during the raid, and the interior ministry says that Ezzat was suspected of overseeing a bombing, and many assassinations or attempted assassinations since taking power. Egyptian authorities claim that the Muslim Brotherhood are promoting militancy and subversion, which the Brotherhood denies.
A statement from the Brotherhood has denounced the arrest, claiming that Ezzat was arrested on “false political charges”.
Prior to his arrest, Ezzat had already been sentenced in absentia to death and to life in prison for other crimes. He will now face retrials in these cases, according to Egyptian law.
Since the 2013 overthrow of former President Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group has been outlawed and many of its leaders have been jailed.
Many senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood have left Egypt and fled to Turkey.
Badie is in prison in Cairo, serving multiple life sentences. Mursi collapsed in a prison courtroom in 2019, and later died.