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Ansar al Sharia Mans Security in Benghazi

5:29 PM, Jul 30, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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More than ten months after the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, Ansar al Sharia is even more entrenched in Libyan society. Members of Ansar al Sharia in Benghazi were reportedly part of the al Qaeda-linked jihadist coalition that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador. But today, Ansar al Sharia is far from being on the run. The organization is expanding and is even tasked with providing security inside Benghazi. 

Ansar al Sharia

On Sunday, Ansar al Sharia Libya posted images and a video of its armed members manning a checkpoint in Benghazi. Incredibly, according to previous reports, the group is providing security at the behest of the Libyan government.

In February, Jamie Dettmer reported for The Daily Beast that the Libyan government is relying on Ansar al Sharia, and other “revolutionary militias,” to “combat drug dealers and a crime wave that is disrupting daily life in the capital and in the eastern city of Benghazi.” Ansar al Sharia members have been “manning checkpoints and guarding hospitals and other public buildings,” while receiving Libyan government payments “through other Benghazi brigades.”

The rampant violence has not been quelled, however. There were numerous attacks before and after the assault on the U.S. mission in September of last year. That trend has continued.  

On July 28, two bombs exploded in Benghazi, including a car bomb outside of a courthouse and a “bomb in a bag” between a hospital and the Ministry of Justice.  In total, the Libya Herald reports, “four car bombs have exploded in the last three days, killing one man and injuring some thirteen people” in Benghazi.  This string of attacks prompted the French to send a forensic team. The French previously sent a forensic team in April, after their embassy in Tripoli was hit by a car bomb.

In recent days, Benghazi assassins have killed a retired Libyan Air Force official, the commander of a police station, and a political activist. On top of all of this, more 1,000 convicts have escaped as a result of a riot at a prison near Benghazi.

Elsewhere, a car bomb parked outside Tripoli’s five-star Radisson hotel was defused last night. Another luxury hotel in Tripoli came under mortar attack last week.

This is all occurring and yet the Libyan government cannot identify which parties are behind the violence. 

Back in June, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was asked about an alleged intelligence report that blamed the Ansar al Sharia militia for much of the violence. As the Libya Herald reported, “Zeidan strenuously denied the existence of such a report.” But he couldn’t come up with an alternative explanation either.

“I was with the head of Intelligence, Salem Al-Hassy and he did not name anyone”, Zeidan said. “We can only apportion blame after there has been a full investigation.”

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