Al-Qaeda says attack on U.S. consulate in Libya ‘revenge’ for death of its 2nd man
Al-Qaeda said the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was in revenge for the killing of the network’s number two Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi, SITE Intelligence Group reported Saturday, as Libyan authorities have identified 50 people who were involved in the attack.
“The killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya only increased the enthusiasm and determination of the sons of (Libyan independence hero) Omar al-Mokhtar to take revenge upon those who attack our Prophet,” al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said in a statement, quoted by the U.S.-based monitoring group, according to AFP.
Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based offshoot did not claim direct responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans.
But it stressed that “the uprising of our people in Libya, Egypt and Yemen against America and its embassies is a sign to notify the United States that its war is not directed against groups and organizations ... but against the Islamic nation that has rebelled against injustice.”
The statement comes four days after al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a video eulogizing Libi, his late deputy and propaganda chief who was killed in a drone strike in June.
Mohammed al-Megaryef, the head of Libya’s national assembly, said on Saturday that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was planned and “meticulously executed.”
Tuesday’s attack by armed men in the eastern city of Benghazi came amid a wave of protests in the Muslim world against a U.S.-made amateur Internet film deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed.
Suspected Islamic militants fired on the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades and set it ablaze on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States claimed by al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, Libyan authorities have identified 50 people who were involved in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, a security official said on Saturday, Reuters reported.
So far four people have been arrested and are being questioned, Libyan officials have said.
“We know of 50 people who were involved in the attack, we have names and we know who they are, but there could be more,” Abdul-Moniem al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee, said.
“Four have been arrested. Some of the others may have escaped via Benghazi airport, maybe to Egypt, but this not confirmed. We have given their names to all of the Libyan border entry points.”
A spokesman for President Barack Obama said on Friday officials had no evidence the attack was pre-planned, an assertion which has added to confusion over the incident.
Immediately after the attack, U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, were quoted widely in the media saying they believed the attack was well-planned and organized.