Benghazi terrorists masquerade as charityMay 13, 2013
Ansar al-Sharia, the terror group widely believed to have played a leading role in the attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11 last year, now claims that it is carrying out humanitarian and charity work in Libya.
The militants were forced out of Benghazi following the murder of the U.S. ambassador, but they returned in February. The Globe and Mail reported at the time that “Observers say Ansar al-Sharia is regaining ground in Benghazi by portraying itself as a humanitarian and security organization, protecting the city from external threats and hazardous goods,” in addition to providing “security” at Benghazi’s central hospital.
The Jamahiriya News Agency subsequently reported that Ansar al-Sharia was offering social services for free, suggesting a “hidden agenda” designed “to proactively win people’s trust,” according to a Benghazi resident.
More recently, the Washington Free Beacon reports that, “The group has downplayed its military activities and played up its social service work. It opened a women’s clinic in late 2012 and has reported on its Facebook page that it delivered food to needy families in regions outside the city.”
Ansar al-Sharia’s philanthropic activities appear to be exaggerated; the Globe and Mail found that a box of allegedly expired medicine seized by Ansar al-Sharia in the interests of public safety actually had not expired yet.
But the charitable efforts and public relations campaign are an indication that Ansar al-Sharia is attempting to follow the example of other terrorist groups that provide social services such as Hamas, and may be trying to fulfill the dying wish of Osama Bin Laden to rebrand the global jihadist movement by implementing relief programs to gain supporters.