Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda-affiliated militia, who are believed to have either led or taken part in the attack on Benghazi, are busy training new fighters for Syria. When they have completed their training, they are sent to Syria to fight with the Al Qaeda backed, Al-Nusra Front. Ansar al_Sharia has opened several training camps in Benghazi and to the East in Darnah.
The terrorist training camps show that Al Qaeda is playing a major role in Libya since Ghaddafi was overthrown. Libya is now considered the headquarters of Al Qaeda in North Africa. Information about the training camps, which were established last May, was gained after forces took four of the trainees prisoner.
The two Tunisian prisoners explained that they were training on small arms and when training was done, they would be transported through Benghazi and Istanbul, Turkey, on their way to Syria. That confirms reports that Turkey is being used as a way station for fighters and weapons on their way into Syria.
Islamic fighters in Syria aren’t just fighting the Bashir Assad regime but also fight the nonIslamic forces. Al Qaeda is trying to organize all resistance under their banner. Many critics of the Obama administration point to the fact that reprisals against Assad, only aids Al Qaeda. In fact some believe that Al Qaeda could have used the gas themselves to get the US to step in.
The critics point to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Al Qaeda in Libya, to show that it’s not reasonable to help overthrow a regime, without knowing what comes next. Should Assad fall, Al Qaeda is in a good position to take a leadership role and expand their sphere of influence.
One of the prisoners claimed to be an associate of Ansar al-Sharia’s leader Sufian Ben Qumu, a terrorist released from Gitmo in 2007. In the car they found 6 passports, an AK 47, and foreign currency.
The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Benghazi, was formed in 2012, but had to move their base due to local opposition to their part in the attack on the Benghazi compound and the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. The group has involved itself in many charitable organizations in order to win support from the citizens of Benghazi. They try to downplay their terrorist associations in order to avoid scrutiny from the Libyan government and the international community.
Experts believe that Libya has supplied more foreign fighters to Syria than any other country. Currently, it is believed that 20% of all foreign fighters in Syria come from Libya. Over 100 Libyan fighters have been killed fighting for one of the numerous Islamic groups fighting the Syrian government.
The training camps are causing the international community to fear that Libya is quickly becoming a breeding ground for terrorists. A Pentagon report from 2012 says that Al Qaeda is quietly building up inside Libya and recruiting fighters, in order to destabalize the country for a possible takeover.
Considering Obama’s failure in his attempts at nation building in Egypt and Libya, people should worry about the power vacuum that would be left with the overthrow of Assad. In Syria, the bad guys are fighting the bad guys.