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Zawahiri’s Man in Libya

11:02 AM, Oct 6, 2013 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an al Qaeda affiliate, has established camps in Libya. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a longtime AQIM commander, set up his own al Qaeda organization in December 2012 and has also operated inside Libya. Some of the Benghazi attackers were in contact with Belmokhtar. What does al Libi know about AQIM’s and Belmokhtar’s operations? 

Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, an Egyptian who served as part of Zawahiri’s security detail in the 1990s, set up training camps inside Libya in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring. Some of Jamal’s trainees reportedly took part in the attack in Benghazi. Jamal, who has since been detained in Egypt, was in direct contact with Zawahiri in 2011 and 2012. What does al Libi know about Jamal’s activities? 

Another longtime al Qaeda operative, Faraj al Chalabi, was detained in Libya after returning from Pakistan. Chalabi is suspected of playing a role in the Benghazi assault. According to senior intelligence officials, Chalabi may have delivered intelligence from the U.S. diplomatic mission to senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan.

What was al Libi’s relationship with Chalabi and what does he know about Chalabi’s putative role in the assault in Benghazi?

Still another al Qaeda operative, Abd al Baset Azzouz, has worked closely with al Libi. Azzouz was identified as al Libi’s key ally inside Libya by the authors of “Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile.” Azzouz was sent to Libya by Zawahiri and “has been operating at least one training center.” Azzouz “sent some of his estimated 300 make contact with other militant Islamist groups farther west.”

Naturally, Azzouz’s whereabouts and current job description are important avenues to explore in al Libi’s questioning.

These are just some of al Libi’s connections to al Qaeda’s terror network in Libya and beyond that are worth investigating.

Abu Anas al Libi was one of the brightest stars in a constellation of al Qaeda-linked actors inside Libya.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  

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