At a news conference the deputy minister a
ccused Gadaffi loyalists as being behind the attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. Ambassador and 3 staff members of the U.S. consulate there. Al-Sharif said:
"There were RPGs...which shows there were forces exploiting this. They are remnants of the (former) regime."
He was speaking at a news conference broadcast on Al Jazeera television. He also suggested that the attack could be revenge for the recent extradition from Mauritania of Gaddafi's former intelligence chief.
The minister's explanation does not make much sense. The attack comes as a simultaneous attack happened in Egypt reacting to a film made by an American that portrayed the prophet Mohammed in a manner offensive to many Muslims. The attack was in all probability the work of a radical Islamist group,. As U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton put it the attack was the work of a "small and savage group"
spoke of Ansar al-Sharia as being behind the demonstration. This group is usually associated with Yemen but Al Qaeda type groups in eastern Libya
have begun to use this name to refer to themselves.
The attack on the consulate follows upon the call of al Qaeda leader Ayman-al-Zawahiri for revenge attacks following the death of a senior Libyan Al Qaeda leader in June. The group that may have answered this call is named the Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades. The group claimed responsibility for an earlier attack on a Red Cross office in Benghazi and other attacks as well.
Norman Benotman of the Quilliam Foundation told CNN:
"An attack like this would likely have required preparation. This would not seem to be merely a protest which escalated...According to our sources, the attack was the work of roughly 20 militants, prepared for a military assault; it is rare that an RPG7 is present at a peaceful protest."
The area around Derna is home to radical Islamist commanders who have 200 to 300 men under their command. There are also said to be Al Qaeda type training camps in eastern Libya. These groups are being monitored by U.S. drones no doubt to send a message to the militants. The militants are sending a message in return.