Casino67 Posted September 21, 2012 Share Posted September 21, 2012 Foreign Policy: Ansar al-Sharia in Libya In Libya, a number of groups use a variation of the name Ansar al-Sharia. Two of the more prominent groups are Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi (ASB), which is viewed as the prime suspect in the recent attack on the consulate and the more shadowy Ansar al-Sharia in Derna (ASD), led by former Guantánamo Bay inmate Abu Sufyan bin Qumu. Both groups were established after the death of former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, but are not connected to one another. ASB first announced itself February 2012 and is led by Muhammad al-Zahawi, who had previously been an inmate of Qaddafi's infamous Abu Salim prison. ASB hosted the first of what it hopes to be an annual conference in June, whose roughly 1,000 attendees included a number other smaller militias, all calling on the Libyan state to implement sharia. A few hundred of those attendees are likely members of ASB. Like the Tunisian Ansar al-Sharia, ASB has been providing local services. ASB members have cleaned and fixed roads, provided aid during Ramadan, and most recently were helping with security at a hospital in Benghazi. Although the groupadmits to destroying Sufi shrines and graves in Benghazi, ASB has attempted to carve out a niche locally as defenders of a strict interpretation of Islam, while helping with the basic needs of the community. Based on its statements --which evolved from suggestions that members were involved in an individual capacity in the attack to flat-out denials of any involvement -- ASB seems it understands it overreached and is attempting to salvage its reputation. Ansar al-Sharia in Egypt and Morocco Unlike the groups in Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya, Egypt's Ansar al-Sharia (ASE) has not publicly announced itself as an organized group on the ground, while the Moroccan organization was only created a mere 10 days ago. ASE has only used the Ansar al-Sharia name online when providing releases for al-Bayyan Media Foundation, which is connected with the jihadi ideologue Shaykh Ahmad Ashush, who recently published a fatwa calling for the death of those involved in the making of the film Innocence of the Muslims. Ashush has a deep history in the jihadi movement, having been involved with the anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s as well as being a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). He was arrested in the early 1990sin an anti-terror sweep against 150 members of EIJ and was only released from prison after the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime. Based on known evidence, it would be premature to consider ASE a fully fledged group yet. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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