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ANSAR AL-SHARIA IN LIBYA

There are several Jihadi groups, inspired by Al Qaeda, who call themselves Ansar al-Sharia (Soldiers of Islamic law). The most notorious is Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen.

Ansar Al Sharia in Libya, with ties to Ansar Al Sharia in Tunisia,   was formed  at the end of the LIbyan Civil- War as an Islamic militia Made up of former rebels from the Abu Obayda Bin Aljarah Brigade, Malik Brigade and February 17 Brigade  and others  headed by Sheikh Muhammad al-Zahawi.

The Salafist militia initially made their name by posting videos of themselves fighting in the Battle of Sirte. Their first major public appearance occurred on 07/06/2012, half a year after the lynch and killing of Muammar Gaddafi (see – Gaddafi-Lynch), when they led a rally of armed vehicles along Benghazi’s Tahrir Square and demanded the imposition of Sharia law from which they were later the same day chased out by local residents. Its leader, Sheikh Muhammad al-Zawawi , later gave an interview on a local TV station forbidding participation in the July 7 general elections on the grounds that they were un-Islamic.

The militia went on to provide security to some public property in Eastern Libya, including Benghazi’s Al Jala Hospital The group is reportedly the military arm of a charitable organization named Al-Dawa wa Al-Islah.

Noman Benotman, a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group  – LIFG and analyst of Libyan Islamism claims that Ansar al Sharia is less an organisation than a term applied to an amorphous coalition of Islamist and Salafist groups active in Eastern Libya.  CNN reports that Ansar Al Sharia is more a label than an organization, one that’s been adopted by conservative Salafist groups across the Arab world.

A group called the “Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades” and linked to the Libyan Ansar Al-Sharia was implicated with the attack on the USA Consulate in Benghazi, on 09/11/2012 (see – AQ-Benghazi Raid).

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