Islamists, regime diehards mar Libya’s transition | Al Arabiya
A wave of attacks in Libya in recent weeks has fuelled fears that radical Islamists are gaining influence, analysts say, as authorities worry that ex-regime diehards are seeking to derail June elections.
The brief seizure of Tripoli International Airport this week and an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi highlight some of the security challenges facing the country ahead of the June 19 election of a constituent assembly.
The vote will be Libya’s first in almost half a century as Libya’s transitional rulers seek to steer it towards democracy after more than four decades of dictatorship under Muammar Qaddafi, toppled and slain last year.
Security sources say an Islamist group claimed Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. mission, which follows similar strikes in Benghazi on the International Committee of the Red Cross and on a United Nations convoy.
“The multiplication of incidents the past two months leads one to think that these are not just isolated acts but a rise of al-Qaeda, which takes advantage of the central authority’s weakness,” Karim Bitar, senior fellow at the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques in Paris told AFP.
“This phenomenon is worrying not just for Libya but for the whole Arab world because the leaders of al-Qaeda in Libya believe in international jihad and do not hesitate to export combatants to Syria and beyond,” he said.
The spokesman of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), Mohammed al-Harizi, says there is no evidence of al-Qaeda “going active” in Libya but acknowledges that there may be individual sympathizers.
Some have suggested that the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, birthplace of the revolution that ousted Qaddafi, was to avenge the killing of al-Qaeda’s number two, Abu Yahya al-Libi, by a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Arabiya)