Weekly Security Update

Overview

Sunday represented the 2nd anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi.  The anniversary passed off relatively peacefully despite concerns that it might be marred by violence.  This Wednesday will be a national holiday in Libya marking the second anniversary of the Revolution and the Liberation Declaration.

Separately this week the consequences of last week’s kidnapping of the Prime Minister continue to rubble on with Ali Zeidan yesterday naming two members of the General national Congress as responsible for his abduction and as described by him ‘this attempted coup’.  Congressmen Treiki and al-Kilani were named along with three others who held and interrogated him from the Counter Crime Agency (CCA).  Both congressmen have Islamist connections.

Violence flared in Benghazi in response to the killing on Friday of the Military Police Commander, Colonel al-Barghathi as he made his way to Friday Prayers.  The commander of the Libya Shield Battalion in Benghazi, Ben Hamid was held to be responsible which then led to his house being stormed and burned.  He, in turn, appeared on television for a phone-in during which he vehemently rejected the accusations whilst promising revenge for those who had burned his home.  Today some arrests are being reported of ‘Chadians’ in connection with the killing.

In response to the ongoing violence in Benghazi the Prime Minister has appointed a new security supremo to head up security there, charged with bringing stability to the city.

Finally, the Egyptian truck drivers and their trucks that were kidnapped on the Ajdabiya to Tobruk road this week have been released as a result of the intervention of the Egyptian Ambassador.  The reasoning for the kidnapping was believed to be tied to the arrest and subsequent jailing by Egyptian authorities of 12 Libyans for arms smuggling.

Tripolitania (Western Libya) 

No arrests have yet been made in relation to the Prime Minister’s kidnapping last week despite him naming those he believes were involved and those who actually held him from the CCA.  This will undoubtedly play out again during this coming week.

On Friday a member of the Zaiwa Martyrs Brigade was seriously injured when an improvised explosive device detonated beneath his car in Sirte.  His condition in hospital is described as comfortable.  Then on Saturday a former commander of the Thuwar in Al Amamira, some 140km east of the capital was shot dead whilst in his car.  The motives are unknown for both these attacks. 

Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya)

Colonel al-Barghathi’s killing on Friday is a serious blow to those struggling to reverse the tide of violence in Benghazi.  The Military Police and al-Barghathi at the head of it were considered highly effective and his death therefore is a victory for the extremist Islamists seeking to take control of the city and region.  How the resultant violence and the involvement of Ben Hamid and the Libya Shield Battalion plays out is hard to see other than scope for further violence particularly with the appointment of Colonel Bukhamada as the new security supremo for the city and charged with regained control.  Bukhamada is from Benghazi where he has been serving since his return from being the military commander down in Sabha.  The omens do not look particularly auspicious given that in his time in Sabha 147 died in inter-tribal fighting.

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