Monday, June 17, 2019
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Home » Libya » Joint Communique on Libya
US intelligence officials believe a former Guantanamo Bay inmate with ties to Al-Qaeda is “likely” to have organised the attack which killed the American ambassador to Libya last week, according to new reports

The former inmate, Sufyan Ben Qumu, is one of the leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant Islamist group with a high-profile presence in the east of the country that has already been identified by local officials as involved in the attack on the consulate in Benghazi in which Chris Stevens died

Ansar leaders in Benghazi have denied responsibility. But they also claim that they are separate from the branch in the heavily Islamist town of Derna 150 miles to the east led by Ben Qumu

“Now it is very clear who was responsible for this,” Mohammed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati battalion, told The Daily Telegraph. The battalion is one of the biggest pro-government militias supposed to be providing security in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, and is also heavily Islamist though hostile to Ansar al-Sharia

“It was people from Ansar al-Sharia – not all of them but some of them, and I think (the organisation) knows who did it”

Ben Qumu was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007 by President George W. Bush and returned to Libya. At the time, negotiations were under way led by Col Muammar Gadaffi’s son, Saif al-Islam, to grant an amnesty to imprisoned Islamists, mostly members of a group called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group

Its leaders had rejected both al-Qaeda and violent opposition to the regime, and many play a prominent role in the new Libya

Ben Qumu returned to Derna and, like many other Islamists, formed his own armed group in the wake of last year’s revolution. Ansar in both Derna and Benghazi are allowed to operate openly, with armed and defended bases, although they are officially described as “illegitimate”

US intelligence has already briefed journalists that they believe there were “communications” between Al-Qaeda – most likely, its franchise in north Africa, Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb – and Ansar al-Sharia on the day of the attack on the consulate

In the latest briefing to a Senate committee, Matthew Olsen, the direct of the US National Counterterrorism Centre, backed away from the previous position that the attack was a protest aimed at the anti-Islamic film circulating the internet that got out of control, confirming it was being treated as a terrorist incident rather than random

But he still suggested that it may not have been extensively pre-planned, even though the consulate had come under attack before, as did the British ambassador, Sir Dominic Asquith, in June

“The facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy,” Mr Olsen said. “The attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours at our embassy – our diplomatic post in Benghazi”

Fox News claimed to have been told by other sources that Ben Qumu, who according to his Guantanamo files was tied to the financiers of the 9/11 attacks, was likely to have been “involved in the attack, and even may have led the attack on the consulate”

A Libyan security guard at the compound on the night of the attack told The Daily Telegraph this week that there had been no protest before the attack, which gave the appearance of being a well-organised military operation. The attackers had come at the building from three directions simultaneously, he said

Categories: News, Press

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