Ansar al-Sharia Blamed for Benghazi Attack: Who Are They?

Very Little Background Information Is Available on 'ASB'

One of the Libyan security guards wounded on the site at Tuesday’s attack against the US consulate provided new details, denying that there was a “protest” against the consulate before the attack, as officials pointed the finger at a heretofore virtually unknown militant faction for the strike.

“There wasn’t a single ant outside,” the guard insisted, saying that 125 armed attackers showed up from all directions and attacked with no advanced warning, storming the main gate before fanning out inside the compound.

Officials are blaming “Ansar al-Sharia” for the attack, which appears to be entirely separate from the Ansar al-Sharia group in Yemen, which occupied the Abyan Province of that nation for over a year.

This Ansar al-Sharia seems to be confined to the Benghazi area, with some referring to it as Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi (ASB). There are some unconfirmed claims that it has “online connections” to a third Ansar al-Sharia group operating out of Tunisia. The Tunisian government is blaming that Ansar al-Sharia for today’s attack on the US embassy in Tunis.

This particular group is one of several Islamist factions which have set up shop in Benghazi during and after the US-backed Libyan civil war. After the installation of a pro-NATO government, mostly made up of former Gadhafi regime officials, several of the Islamist factions have tried to carve out a measure of independence.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.