Benghazi-based extremist Islamic militant group says leader has been killed

January 25, 2015 5:02 am
Benghazi-based extremist Islamic militant group Ansar al-Shariah said
Saturday (local time) its leader Mohammed al-Zahawi has been killed.
Unconfirmed
reports that al-Zahawi was injured or killed in an attack late last
year had circulated on jihadist websites for months although the group
dismissed them at the time.
The statement, posted on the group’s official Twitter account Saturday, gave no details about how or when al-Zahawi was killed.

The extremist group has been blamed for the September 2012 attack on the
US Consulate in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens. Photo
/ Getty

It
gave condolences and vowed to take revenge and “shake the seat of
power.” The statement included a photo allegedly showing al-Zahawi after
his death.
The group has been blamed for the September 2012
attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed US Ambassador Chris
Stevens and three other Americans.

In the attack, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and
stormed the mission, many waving the black banners of Ansar al-Shariah.
The compound’s main building was set ablaze. Stevens suffocated to death
inside and another American was shot dead. Later in the evening, gunmen
attacked and shelled a safe house, killing two more Americans.
The
United States designated it a terrorist organization in January 2014,
saying that the group emerged after the fall of longtime dictator
Moammar Gadhafi. It said that along with the attack on the US Consulate,
the group has been involved in “terrorist attacks against civilian
targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of
security officials and political actors in eastern .”
The
United Nations also listed Ansar al-Shariah as a terrorist organization
in November 2014, saying it runs training camps for foreign fighters
travelling to Syria, Iraq and Mali.
Ansar al-Shariah is part of
the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, an umbrella group for the
city’s hard-line militias. Last spring Khalifa Hiftar, a former army
general, led a unilateral offensive against extremist militias in
Benghazi. On October 15, Hiftar and the elected government joined ranks
against the militias.
Widespread militia violence has plunged
Libya into chaos less than four years after a NATO-backed uprising
toppled and killed Gadhafi.

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