Blamed for the 9/11 US Consulate attack and violently forced out of the city by pro-government attackers, the Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi (ASB) has returned in force, setting up checkpoints and promising to provide security for local hospitals and neighborhoods.
Though accused of the attack, which killed the US Ambassador, ASB denies any role in it and no evidence was ever presented, with Libyan officials speculating that it was likely destroyed when pro-regime protesters burned and looted their headquarters.
Locals are greeting the return of ASB hopefully, saying that the group’s fighters played a key role in the 2011 civil war and that they believe that they can be useful in providing security in a city that is very much lacking in it.
Benghazi council spokesmen confirmed ASB’s return, insisting they had no choice but to turn to the group as security has worsened, and insisting that the group has been back in the city for about a month. ASB officials say they have been seizing “contraband” including “illegal medical supplies” from the checkpoints and turning it over to the regime.