Benghazi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands
and Australia have urged their citizens to leave the Libyan city of Benghazi due
to a "specific, imminent threat to Westerners", linked to French
action in Mali and the danger of new kidnappings by Muslim extremists.
According to British diplomatic sources, Islamists have threatened to
carry out attacks against Western targets like the one on the US consulate on
11 September 2011 in which US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three
other Americans were killed.
Over the past two years since the anti-Gaddafi war, Benghazi has been
one of the main recruiting centres for Islamic extremists and al-Qaeda fighters.
A senior Algerian officer claimed that the organisers of the Benghazi
consulate attack are the same who seized the gas Tigantourine field in (in In
Amenas, south-eastern Algeria) that left 38 hostages and 29 Muslim extremists
The group recruited by Mokhtar Belmokhtar included several Egyptian
jihadists active in Libya.
Sources in Algiers said that Mohamed-Lamine Bouchneb, the militant
leading the attack at the site, had purchased arms for the assault in the Libyan
The kidnappers gathered, undisturbed, at the southern Libyan town of
Ghat, just across the border from Algeria, before their attack.
It is becoming clear that al Qaeda is spreading in the Sahara. On Wednesday,
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to Congress about the events in
Benghazi, warning that Jihadist groups have formed a complex alliance in North
Africa with southern Libya and Mali as their main bases.
Indeed, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the veteran militant who claimed overall
responsibility for the Tigantourine attack, is believed to be based in Mali.
US State Department officials have said that some members of Ansar
al-Shariah, the group that carried out the attack on the diplomatic mission in
Benghazi, had connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, one of the
militant groups now holding northern Mali.