While focus has been rightly so recently on the attacks perpetrated by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Algeria and Morocco, let’s not forget that Libya is also possibly a target.
Furthermore, two of Al Qaeda top leaders are Libyan and dream of unseating Colonel Khadafi.
For more on what’s going inside Libya, please read on this story from The Croissant:
Despite the news blackout imposed by Libyan authorities, Western chancelleries got information regarding the infiltration of Al Qaeda elements in the Maghreb.
In Mid May, after receiving a US report on potential terror attacks in Libya similar to those perpetrated in Algiers in April, Colonel Khadafi met with his top security services aides. This American report mentioned the potential use of missiles targeting the Bab Al Azizia barrack, Khadafi’s Headquarters in Tripoli. The report also mentioned that Al Qaeda members entered Libya through Algeria and Sudan. It provided a list of likely personalities targeted including security services heads, the CEO of the National Oil Company, Chucri Ghanem, the Prime Minister, Al Baghdadi Al Mahmoudi, the Interior Minister. Other targets included the headquarters of foreign companies, in particular Anglo-Saxon ones in the oil and gas sectors.
Following the US report, Libyan authorities reacted swiftly. Between May 31 and June 7, more than 250 people were arrested in major cities:just in Benghazi, supposedly over 100, in Al Baida (the Salafists and Muslim Brothers stronghold) arrests are occurring around the clock. The bulk of these alleged jihadists had already been jailed in the past, after their fighting against Libyan security services in the 90’s and at the beginning of the 2000’s ; but then they had been freed.
Authorities, not hiding their fears, even arrested family members of Islamist militants who could not be found: indeed they wanted to pressure these jihadists to surrender but it did not seem to work out this time around.