The assassination of the US ambassador and three other US embassy staff in Benghazi is a terrible crime and a political disaster by any standard, not just in terms of US – Libyan relations, but Washington’s relations with the entire region.
At the White House, State Department and Pentagon, there are questions being raised whether this is the thanks and gratitude they deserve from a country and people they helped, politically, financially, militarily and security-wise?
Until now, we do not know the true identity of who carried out this heinous crime, however fingers are being pointed at forces comprised of remnants of the Gaddafi regime which are seeking to revenge themselves against the new Libyan government. These forces still possess liquid funds and arms hidden throughout the mountains and caves of Libya’s vast desert regions.
Whilst there is also an unconfirmed theory that a section of the Al Qaeda organization, which last year transferred from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, have now secured a presence in three other territories, namely Libya, Syria and the Sinai Peninsula.
It is no longer strange to see the black Al Qaeda banner being raised in Yemen or Cairo’s Tahrir Square. It is no coincidence that the assassination of the US ambassador in Benghazi and the huge protests outside the American embassy in Cairo took place on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is also no surprise that the Al Qaeda flag was raised outside the walls of the US embassy last week.
It is no longer surprising to see, on our television screens, trucks equipped with machine guns manned by mask figures brandishing the black Al Qaeda banner.
Al Qaeda, as a central organization with a unified command in charge of violence and terrorist operations throughout the world, witnessed a huge shift following the killing of its infamous leader Osama Bin Laden. Today, under Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda has begun to follow different approaches based on establishing branches wherever crises are taking place, securing a wide-spread international presence.
It is very difficult for armies, regimes or conventional intelligence services to deal with this policy and the establishment of new Al Qaeda branches and units across the region.
This situation will create a state of turmoil and chaos that cannot be controlled, not just during the era of the Arab Spring, but following this.
The current assassination attempts against Yemeni officials following regime change, the Benghazi operation following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime and the protests outside of the US embassy after Mursi came to power, represent evidence that Al Qaeda lives on as a new chapter in the post-Arab Spring era.