Tripoli, 8 December:
The Egyptian authorities have detained a leading terror operative with suspected links to Al-Qaeda, whose network is said to . . .[restrict]have been involved in the deadly assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi on 11 September.
Muhammed Jamal Abu Ahmad, a former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, was captured in the past week according to unnamed US officials.
Ahmad, who was freed from prison in March 2011 following the deposition of Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian revolution, is reported to have been captured with the assistance of US intelligence.
Since his release from jail, Ahmad is suspected of assembling a team of operatives with training camps in Libya and Egypt, supported by funding from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen.
The report of Ahmad’s capture has been carried in the Wall Street Journal, which also said that the Egyptian authorities had yet to formally announce the arrest.
In the three months since the attack, which left four Americans dead including the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, not a single person in Libya has been formally charged in connection with the assault, at least not publicly.
In early October, it was announced that two Tunisians had been detained at Istanbul airport in connection with the assault, after their names were placed on a list of suspects distributed by US intelligence officials.
The authorities in Benghazi have admitted they are frightened to move against militia suspects, whilst the leader of one of Benghazi’s Libya Shield brigades, Wissam Bin Hamid, recently admitted that – if requested – he would not arrest members of the Ansar Al-Sharia brigade accused of involvement owing to bonds forged between revolutionaries who fought in last year’s uprising. He added that in any case, he did not believe they were to blame.
The slow pace of the investigation in Libya is known to be frustrating the American government, which has operated drone surveillance operations over Benghazi since the 11 September attack.
It is believed in some circles that if progress is not made soon to apprehend the suspects then the US government may deploy its own operatives to do so instead. [/restrict]