Ansar al Sharia Libya, the al Qaeda-linked group that was involved in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, has a new Twitter feed. The Twitter page, which can be found here, was apparently launched in the last 24 hours. The group announced its new Twitter presence on its Facebook page.
In related news, the SITE Intelligence Group reports that Ansar al Sharia Libya has “released three albums of photos that documented its first open event” in Derna, an eastern Libyan city known as a hotbed for jihadism. The event was titled, “A Step Towards Building an Islamic State.”
One of the photos can be seen above.
SITE estimates that the photos “show approximately 500 people in attendance, including a large number of children and young men.”
And one photo shows “Nasir al Kasih, who recently released a nashid praising al Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front, performing for the crowd.”
Although the Facebook posts did not document the content of the speeches or reading materials passed out at the event, the group’s past publications and statements have resolutely rejected democracy and praised al Qaeda. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the group is helping to funnel foreign fighters to Syria where they link up with al Qaeda’s affiliates there.
Ansar al Sharia has long operated in Derna.
An August 2012 report published by the Library of Congress in conjunction with the Department of Defense, titled “Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile,” identified the head of Ansar al Sharia in Derna as ex-Guantanamo detainee Sufian Ben Qumu. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda’s plan for Libya highlighted in congressional report.]
Fresh reporting notes that Ben Qumu was involved in the terrorist attack in Benghazi. Ben Qumu is one of the original “Arab Afghans,” and worked for al Qaeda in the Sudan in the early 1990s before relocating to Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to a leaked Joint Task Force-Guantanamo file, Ben Qumu’s alias was found on a laptop owned by an al Qaeda operative who acted as the financier for the 9/11 plot.
Ben Qumu doesn’t show up in any of the recent photos, as far as I can tell. He probably has good reasons to lay low.
Update: SITE Intelligence notes in its dispatch on Ansar al Sharia Libya’s Twitter feed that the account’s “administrator chose to follow numerous accounts belonging to designated terrorist entities and individuals such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s al-Andalus Media Foundation, the Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s Al-I’tisaam Media, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s Minbar al-Tawhid, and others.”
To this list we can add that the administrator also chose to follow Mohammed al Zawahiri (the imprisoned younger brother of Ayman al Zawahiri) and Al Faroq Media, an Egyptian al Qaeda-linked propaganda outfit. Another Twitter feed followed by Ansar al Sharia Libya appears to belong to a former Guantanamo detainee named Walid Hajj, who has claimed that the Jews used witchcraft at Guantanamo. No, seriously.