Libya Herald staff:
Tripoli, 10 January 2013:
Washington has branded Ansar Al-Sharia in Benghazi, Derna and Tunisia, terrorist organisations and named three leaders . . .[restrict]as most wanted. It has also doubled to $10 million the bounty on the heads of anyone involved in the 11 September 2012 consulate attack, in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues were murdered.
The named individuals listed by the State Department are Ahmed Abu Khattalah, (Benghazi) Sufian bin Qumu (Dernah) and Seifallah Ben Hassine, commonly known as “Abu Iyad” (Tunisia). The last was rumoured to have been seized in late December in Misrata, by US special forces. Ansar Al-Sharia in Tunisia denied the claims.
The effect of the naming of these three groups and individuals, is that as far as Washington is concerned, anyone who supports or deals with them will be deemed to have committed an offence. Property and investments held in the US will also be seized.
The State Department note on the proscriptions said that since they were created separately after the fall of the Qaddafi regime, Ansar Al-Sharia in Benghazi and Dernah had been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya.
In particular, said the note, they were involved in “the 11 September, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annexe in Benghazi, Libya. Ansar Al-Sharia in both Benghazi and Dernah continued to pose a threat to US interests in Libya.
The note concludes with the new that the bounty for information as been doubled.
“Today, the Department of State updated its Rewards for Justice website (www.rewardsforjustice.net) to include a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual responsible for the 11 September, 2012 Benghazi attacks”. [/restrict]