Posts Tagged ‘Ansar al-Sharia’

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Benghazi culprits funded by Libyan subcontracts

September 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…

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Benghazi terrorists masquerade as charity

May 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.