By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli / Benghazi, 14 June 2014:
The police in Tripoli are reinforcing security at Aljazeera TV’s offices following a . . .[restrict]reported grenade attack yesterday evening. It was the second attack on the Qatar-owned broadcaster’s offices in Libya in two days. On Thursday, the company’s Benghazi bureau was stormed, staff ordered out and the place ransacked.
“We have contacted all staff members of Aljazeera in Tripoli to inform them of our procedures about protecting them from any possible attacks against them,” Mohamed Abu Abdullah, spokesman for Tripoli Security Directorate, told to Libya Herald. A police unit was at the offices in the capital’s Jeraba district, he added, and an investigation into what had happened had been opened.
There were also further demonstrations yesterday in Benghazi against the station outside the city’s Tibesti hotel. Its bureau there remains closed.
The attack follow the release on YouTube of an audio recording of a phone conversation allegedly between a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) from Ajdabiya, Hussein Jazwi, Ajdabiya Local Council head Salem Subhi and Aljazeera’s former Libya bureau chief, Iraqi Abdel-Azeem Mohamed.
In the recording, the authenticity of which has been challenged, the two Ajdabiya men are heard asking Abdel-Azeem to organise financial support from the Qatari government so they could defeat retired general Khalifa Hafter and put an end to his Operation Dignity.
Aljazeera has said the tape was a fake designed to turn Libyans against it and that it would support Abdel-Azeem if he wanted to take legal action.
He is reported no longer to be in the country.
The publisher of the tape, a young Libyan, insists it is real, however. So does Khalifa Hafter. His spokesman, Mohamed Hijazi, told this newspaper that the conversation had been authenticated by experts and that measures were now in hand to try and arrest the two Libyans involved, Jazwi and Subhi. He called them criminals.
The relationship between Libyans and Qatar has been increasingly fraught over the past year. Although the Gulf state was a strong supporter of the revolution, it has since been accused of interfering in Libyan affairs by funding particular groups and individuals. As a result last year, there were anti-Qatar demonstrations in several towns, notably Benghazi, with Qatari flags being burned as well as pictures of the then Emir of Qatar and his wife Sheikha Mozah, who was partly brought up in Libya.
Qatar Airways offices in Tripoli were also attacked and the airline was warned not to fly to Libya. It has stopped doing so.
The accusations have been firmly denied by Qatar and the government and those accused. Last August, members in Congress of the Justice & Construction Party announced they were suing three other Congress members for claiming they had received money from from Qatar. [/restrict]