A soldier stands guard on top of a column outside Almaza military airbase, where a military funeral ceremony of security personnel killed in attacks in Sinai is being held, in Cairo, January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
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A small but highly dangerous succession of former Egyptian army officers are joining Islamist militant groups, complicating President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's efforts to counter what he calls an existential threat from extremism.These men are raising the stakes in an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the army toppled Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in 2013 .Since Morsi was ousted some officers have joined the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM) Islamist group and planned and participated in attacks on the army and other facilities, particularly in the Sinai, said Khalil al-Anani, adjunct professor with the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.As former army chief and head of military intelligence, Sisi is well aware of the Islamist threat from within the military.An Egyptian military source said the army has a unit that tracks anyone suspected of harboring radical ideology.Army special forces officer Hisham Ashmawy is one example of a military man turned jihadi.Ashmawy seemed to have a promising career in the military.With another former military officer, Ashmawy also leads the group's military training committee.
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