(New York, NY) – The absence of civilian government control in Libya has led to continuous armed struggle for territory, power, and competition for recruits among extremist groups. The Counter Extremism Project's (CEP) new resource details the history, tactics, and violent timeline of one of the most powerful Libyan Islamist groups, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL).
ASL is the union of two smaller groups, the Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Benghazi (ASB) and Ansar al-Sharia Derna (ASD). Both groups took part in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Following the attack and the subsequent backlash in Libya and abroad, the groups publicly denounced violence and rebranded under the name Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and opened chapters in Derna, Sirte, and Ajdabiya.
Pledges of peace did not last long, however. Since 2012, ASL has increased ties with international violent jihadist groups, including by holding clandestine meetings with al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and training and exporting fighters to conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Mali. While former ASL leader Mohamed al-Zahawi openly declared his support for al-Qaeda, ASL has of late also cooperated with ISIS, which continues to gain strength in Libya.
For requests for interviews, please contact CEP at [email protected].