Benghazi culprits funded by Libyan subcontractsSeptember 11, 2013
Ansar al-Sharia, the terrorist group that played a leading role in the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, is profiting from security subcontracts awarded to it by the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, a larger militia that receives direct contracts from the Libyan defense ministry.
This disgrace resembles the ongoing public contract scandals in Afghanistan through which specific UN, U.S., and Afghan security operations have been subcontracted out to Taliban affiliated-fighters over the past several years.
The Weekly Standard reports:
… Ansar al Sharia is far from being on the run. The organization is expanding and is even tasked with providing security inside Benghazi.
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…
The Weekly Standard cites a Daily Beast article from February which elaborates on the payments to Ansar al-Sharia:
… Since the consulate attack that led to the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, Ansar al-Sharia has kept a low profile but recently—and noticeably at celebrations to mark the second anniversary of the revolution earlier this month—the militia was back manning checkpoints and guarding hospitals and other public buildings. Government payments to Ansar al-Sharia militiamen also have been resumed and are made through other Benghazi brigades, including the 17th of February brigade, according to sources in the General National Congress, Libya’s new Parliament.
The sources say the chief of the defense staff, Yousef Mangoush, has been diverting operational funds from the fledgling armed forces to the militia. They worry the move is “playing with fire”…
As for the militia that serves as Ansar al-Sharia’s paymaster, the BBC says, “The Martyrs of 17 February Brigade are considered to be the biggest and best armed militia in eastern Libya. The brigade is financed by the Libyan defence ministry. The brigade consists of at least 12 battalions and possesses a large collection of light and heavy weapons in addition to training facilities.”
The Associated Press reported in March that “The state pays many militias, relying on them to serve as security forces since the police and military remain a shambles.”
More recently, the Global Post reports:
… Frederic Wehrey, the former US military attaché in Tripoli, called the [Libyan] army “a shell of an institution.“ Contracting with the revolutionaries did bring them somewhat under the authority of the state. But it was also a “Faustian bargain” that gave brigade commanders and their political patrons leverage over the government.
This quickly gave rise to the growth of parallel forces that now overshadow the regular army and police…