Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Al-Qaeda linked militia commander, Abu Sufyan Bin Qumu, narrowly survived an assassination attempt earlier this week by unknown gunmen. Bin Qumu is the leader of the Ansar Al-Shari’a group, suspected of involvement in the 2012 US consulate attack in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others.
Local sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Bin Qumu was shot in the hand by unknown gunmen in the eastern Ras Al-Hilal district of Derna, while one of his bodyguards was also shot twice in the attack. Both men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Libya remains in the grip of security instability as hundreds of armed militias—formed during the revolution to topple the Gaddafi regime—have refused to put down their weapons and disband. This attack comes just five days after another Ansar Al-Shari’a commander, Yahya Abdel Sayed of Benghazi, was assassinated in Sirte. It is not known if the most recent assassination attempt targeting Bin Qumu was linked to this.
One source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the assassination attempt was the result of a personal feud between Bin Qumu and the Al-Shawa’ir tribe, which accused the Al-Qaeda-linked commander of killing one of its members.
A Derna resident familiar with the details of the incident informed Reuters that “there were two cars. They were passing Lathroun when they came under attack. The driver of the second car, who was on his own, was injured in the shooting.”
Bin Qumu is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who is reported to have previously served as Osama Bin Laden’s personal driver. He was held in Guantanamo Bay between 2001 and 2007 before being repatriated to Libya. He was released from the infamous Abu Salim prison in 2010 following an amnesty for political prisoners. He formed the Ansar Al-Shari’a group in Derna following the start of the Libyan revolution, taking part in the fighting that ultimately toppled the Gaddafi regime.
Eyewitness accounts place Ansar Al-Shari’a fighters at the site of the Benghazi consulate attack, although the movement has officially denied any involvement. Following the incident, the Islamist group was forced to leave Benghazi amid popular protests, but it has since returned to the city. Ansar Al-Shari’a said it would vacate its headquarters in Derna following mass pro-government demonstrations; however, reports claim that members continue to meet in the city on a regular basis.