Benghazi, 6 June:
The US diplomatic office in Benghazi was attacked on Tuesday night, just one day after the death of the . . .[restrict]Libyan Al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya Al-Libi in north-west Pakistan.
“An explosion went off last night outside the gate, although the building itself was not impacted”, officials at the US Embassy in Tripoli said. “Fortunately, nobody was injured”.
Asked whether they believed the attack could have been connected to the death of Al-Libi, who was killed by an American drone strike, the embassy refused to speculate. “Nobody has claimed responsibility for this attack and we cannot speculate who was responsible and what their motives were at this time”, they said.
In spite of this, there have been suggestions that the two incidents could be connected. Al-Libi, who’s real name is Abubakar Hassan Qaid, was considered to be Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, and the death of such a high-ranking official will have been a considerable blow to the organisation.
Al-Libi is known to have a brother living in Libya, Abdul-Wahab Hassan Qaid, who is believed to be a commander of border security forces in the south of the country.
US officials have said that Al-Qaeda “will be hard-pressed to find any one person who can readily step into [Al-Libi’s] shoes… There is no-one who even comes close in terms of replacing the expertise that Al-Qaeda has just lost”.
Al-Libi was reportedly in charge of the day-to-day operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which border Afghanistan. In addition to being significant for Al-Qaeda’s operations in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, Al-Libi was also believed to be the interface between Pakistani militant commanders and Al-Qaeda operations in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.
There has been speculation that Al-Libi had been attempting to establish an Al-Qaeda presence in eastern Libya, although it is not believed that the group has a significant foothold in the country. [/restrict]