31. Dezember 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „US, Libyan forces capture Tunisian militants’ leader“ – timesofmalta.com · Kategorien: Libyen


US, Libyan forces capture Tunisian militants’ leader

Tunisian state media said the head of the country’s Islamist militants was captured in Libya by US and Libyan forces yesterday, though his organisation denied he had been detained.

The US army also said it had not played any part in any move against Ansar al Sharia leader Saifallah Benahssine – the man accused of inciting an attack on the US embassy in Tunisia in 2012.

Any US involvement in an operation on Libyan soil would be highly sensitive. Libyan Islamists were furious at what they saw as Washington’s interference after American forces captured a top al-Qaeda suspect in Tripoli in October.

If confirmed, the capture of such a high-ranking Tunisian militant in Libya would also highlight close ties between Islamist groups in North Africa.

Eastern oil port of Hariga remains shut

After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi two years ago, Libya has drawn foreign militants because its weak central government, uncontrolled southern areas and porous borders to sub Saharan Africa allow arms and fighters to flow to regional hot spots.

Western powers have pledged to help Libya control its frontiers and train its nascent armed forces to build up its capacity to control the country’s territory.

Tunisia’s TAP agency, citing a senior security source, said Benahssine, also known as Abu Iyadh, had been arrested in Misurata yesterday in the morning. The agency added, “The source said special American forces arrested Abu Iyadh and other members of his group, helped by Libyan forces.”

The US military said it had played no part in any operation, and US security officials said that US intelligence agencies and their personnel also were not involved.

Some US officials believed that Abu Iyadh had indeed been captured, while others said that reports of his capture had not been confirmed and cannot be considered reliable.

Meanwhile an eastern oil port, which officials had said was to open soon, remained shut yesterday, as the paralysis of Libya’s oil sector continued, caught in a struggle between Tripoli and the regions.

Hariga has been shut since August due to an occupation by local people. The 110,000 barrels per day oil port was still closed but officials were “looking forward to hearing good news,” National Oil Corp spokesman Mohamed al-Harari said.

Militias, tribesmen and civil servants have seized ports and oilfields to press for political or financial demands, drying up oil output to less than 250,000 bpd from 1.4 million bpd in July. Oil is the main source for the budget and to fund food imports.

Libya’s southern Sarir and Messla oilfields were operational but could not pump crude to Hariga as tanks at the port were full, Harari said.

An oil official on Friday said the port, in Tobruk, would reopen within days in the latest in a series of announcements about bringing the closure of ports to an end.

The government has tried to negotiate with protesters at Hariga and also put pressure on tribal leaders to persuade an armed autonomy group to lift the blockage of the Ras Lanuf, Es-Sider and Zueitina ports, previously accounting for 600,000 bpd.

But autonomy leader Ibrahim Jathran said at the last minute that talks with Tripoli to get a greater share of oil revenues for the east had failed.

State news agency Lana said a delegation of activists, civil society figures and “wise men” met some of the port strikers to stress the need for a “peaceful dialogue”.

Some of the militias have joined the army or police but many fighters in practise report to their commanders, not the weak government.

via US, Libyan forces capture Tunisian militants’ leader – timesofmalta.com

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