An Abduction in Benghazi: The Revenge of the Islamists?

Is Ansar al-Shari'a retaliating for the popular uprising that ransacked its bases? Will the violent tit-for-tat continue in the aftermath of the death of the American ambassador?

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ABDULLAH DOMA / AFP / Getty Images

A Libyan demonstrator flashes the victory sign near the burning headquarters of the hard-line Islamist group Ansar el-Sharia‘a in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 21, 2012

When a revolution in Libya erupted last year against Muammar Gaddafi, Colonel Hamid Bilkhayr was among the earliest military defectors to join the rebels. He helped organize civilian volunteers into cohesive brigades and directed units at the front. Civilian leaders used his military expertise for plotting their battlefield strategies. And all the contributions and sacrifices he made for the revolution may have saved his life Saturday, after masked gunmen kidnapped him.

The abduction took place the day after a demonstration of 25,000 to 30,000 people calling for disarming the secular and Islamist militias that overthrew Gaddafi broke out into small groups of men who seized a number of the bases belonging to those militias. Among those ransacked was a compound belonging to Ansar al-Shari‘a, an Islamist brigade believed to be behind the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

(PHOTOS: Benghazi: Life During Wartime)

Saturday’s events appeared to be revenge for the sacking of the militia bases. When a bearded man showed up at the colonel’s house at 8 a.m., asking for help, saying his neighborhood was still paralyzed by the violence that had gripped Benghazi on Friday, the officer naturally complied.

But when they took him to the Shari‘a Ishrin neighborhood, Bilkhayr quickly learned that he had fallen into a trap. About a dozen armed and masked men covered his head and shoved him into a car. When they reached their destination, the gunmen berated Bilkhayr for his lack of piety. “They said I don’t believe in God and the Prophet and that I am a bad person,” Bilkhayr said, hours after his release. “They were Islamic extremists who said I am not a Muslim. They said they were giving me another chance to go back to God.”

It was not only his kidnappers’ line of questioning that led Bilkhayr to conclude that they were Islamic radicals. His abductors used the literary Arabic Muslim fundamentalists known as Salafists speak, because they believe it to be the language of Muhammad and his companions. Most Arabs prefer a colloquial Arabic that no longer has what the pious call the “purity” of the language that dates back to the Koran written in the 7th century.

(MORE: The Revolt of Benghazi’s Moderates: Will the Rest of Libya Follow?)

When Bilkhayr’s captors set him on his knees, placed a gun to his head and began swearing at him, a dispute broke out between them. “One said I should not be treated like this, that I defended Benghazi when Gaddafi sent his brigades here. He might have saved my life.” The ordeal ended when one of the gunmen received a phone call. Minutes later, Bilkhayr was shoved back into the car and dropped off near a traffic circle.

Though Bilkhayr’s brush with death was averted, his troubles were far from over. When he returned home, he discovered that six of his soldiers from the First Infantry Brigade had been executed, their corpses dumped in Mashrua Quwasha, a secluded part of town where rows of trees provide privacy for couples and isolation for people seeking solace.

Suspicion immediately fell on Ansar al-Shari‘a. Though the group’s fighters evacuated their headquarters without a fight, another Islamist brigade linked to it did open fire on their besiegers. Four people died when fighters from the Rafalla al-Sahati brigade resisted attempts to overrun their barracks.

(PHOTOS: Libya’s New Regime: The Fight for Gaddafi’s Hometown)

The bodies of the six executed soldiers were found less than a mile away, shot in the head with their hands bound. Their deaths lead many in Benghazi to believe that they were killed in retaliation for Friday’s protests that left the Islamists battered and bruised. “Ansar [al-Shari‘a] killed my brother,” Muhammad Sheriff said at the funeral for his sibling Ahmad, one of the soldiers whose bodies were found in a pile of garbage.

Scorn for Ansar al-Shari‘a has united together the grieving families at the Hawari cemetery, where the six soldiers were buried. “There is no God but Allah, and Ansar Shari’a is the enemy of God,” a family shouted as their pickup truck carrying a corpse slowly meandered through the cemetery. “We don’t want any more killing,” said a man who only gave his name as Munir. “We just want the government to take over.”

But with the Islamists bent on retribution and a central government too weak to impose order, more blood will likely be shed before the violence ends.

MORE: Timeline: What Happened in Libya and How the U.S. Reacted
23 comments
sha_g
sha_g

I personally am for non-violence, but in Nakoula im Bacile's case, I wish someone would kill this guy, he really deserves it for all the trouble he created globally.

Bankimchandra Desai
Bankimchandra Desai

Ghaddafi ravaged with his debaucherous female body guards and harem full of sexy women and neglected general well being of ordinanary Libyan citizens. They were deprived of their basic day to day needs.Ghaddafi managed his foreign policy by exporting Islamist terrorism and terrorists in the form of mercenaries. He bank rolled the pay cheques of such notorious activists in Jammu amp; Kashmir of India, Afghanistan , Chechenya and to some extent to the USA.He was a proven international nuisance.The USA is largely responsible for creating such monsters throughout the globe.Saddam Houssain of Iraq, Zia ul Haq and Parvez Musharraf of Pakistan were other terrorists in uniform..Ghaddafi made the best of use of Libya's natural resources to meet his personal ends .He never bothered to address Libyans' woes. Libyans are at no fault if they react against Islamist terrorists. i am not surprised to read about Libyan terrorists in Afghan militia's dress rampaging Benghazi and other Libyan cities.With Ghaddaffi's ouster, they must be deprived of their pay cheques and hence they must have returned to Libya to continue their mercinery mission ,this time ,for their own benefit.

sha_g
sha_g

you witnessed this yourself? shytface Indian....

Viking.
Viking.

Anyone that does not have a problem with Islam is in for a very rude awakening at some time in the future. If you are not afraid of Islam and appalled by the activities of its followers then you are wilfully blind and ignorant. No-one can defend Islam, other than an indoctrinated Muslim.

Take a genuinely objective look at this website: http://www.thereligionofpeace.... 

sha_g
sha_g

i am sickened by haters like you, hiding in the shadows and spreading hate, what religion are you? Hindu? Jew, Christian? fess up coward....

Suzi Saul
Suzi Saul

This is their way...that's why they're called terrorists.

Chinga_Tu_Madre
Chinga_Tu_Madre

HEy, that's what they call us too! I guess we're even.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

No we're not even. Not even close. People like you who draw moral equivalencies between evil, rabid mass-murdering Muslims who murder as many innocent civilians as possible and US foreign policy, need to reevaluate your ethics and belief systems. 

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

Puhleez? Really? While you're busy blaming the US for mass murder, what do you think the Arabs or Iranians would if they had our military capabilities. As far as Iraq and Afghanistan, the rules of engagement are so restrictive because of Obama's obsessiveness about pleasing Muslims that our soldiers can't even protect themselves. The only large scale killing of civilians there is being done by the Taliban and /or other radicals who kill their own for "corroborating" with the US. You sound like an ignorant hater. Just an FYI, if you hate this country so much no one will stop you from leaving.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

Mass murdering torturous interference? Check you spelling by the way. You mean like what Obama's mass murdering terrorist friends did to us on 9/11/01 amp; 9/11/12? I do get your position though; as an Obama supporter you probably respect Obama making apologies to Muslim terrorists because they were provoked in to mass-murder because someone exercised their first amendment rights and criticized their false God. Oh wait, that’s not the real reason they did it, it was a pre-planned terrorist attack. The Obama administration just wanted us to think that was the reason so they could deflect criticism from their horrible record on foreign policy. You might think it’s OK to apologize to people that drag our ambassadors out of our consulates, murder them and drag their bodies though the streets but I don’t. I don’t think an apology is required. In fact I would be quite happy if we blew all those terrorist bastards to bits. With Obama in office that will never happen… unless he thinks it will help him get votes.

sha_g
sha_g

oh please the US kills on a mass scale, by dropping nukes on sleeping civilians, more bombs fell on Vietnam than entire WW2, what about the thousands killed by the US in Iraq? puhleez.....no one kills like the US.

Chinga_Tu_Madre
Chinga_Tu_Madre

No, no, it's totally cool. I approve of our mass murdering and tortuous interference in the internal affairs of others. That's why I'd vote for Jr. again if I could. 

Now that's patriotism.

Patriot334
Patriot334

 Right.    First we terrorized Libya into rising up against Qadaffi.  Then we terrorized them even more by sending military aid to defeat their dictator.

Anyway, nice try at using the concept of "even" as propaganda.

Jill Louis
Jill Louis

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IcarusRising
IcarusRising

This will turn into a Battle Royal that all the forces of revisionism will loose. No battle can be won if you loose the hearts and minds of the people you wish to lead and influence.

wavettore
wavettore

The recognition of Equality has always generated much fear for that concept of Individualism so adored by the Jewish culture.

This defends with one single strategy:

Divide and Conquer. 

This strategy always begins with one same sentence:

Let me help you. 

In our days, a group of Zionist Freemasons (or Neocons) is leading Humankind toward a World War of Religions and toward Slavery.

 

Without an Awakening, any significant change would be unlikely even if the people knew exactly what the conspirators will do:

They will throw stones and quickly hide their hand

They will hit one to blame the other and divide all people

They will stir up a Conflict in the name of our differences

    

Their motto "Divide and conquer" is also their strategy

in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Korea to finally get to China and Russia. These governments are targets of US and UK secret services that instigate the people of those Countries while TV media exclusively controlled by the Zionists demonize those governments. 

There is only one Solution.

www.wavevolution.org

 

Armand Winter
Armand Winter

The Libyans claim that these militia men are dressed as Afghanis... what the heck are they doing there?

Soliman_the_Magnificent
Soliman_the_Magnificent

There were reports of some Libyans travelling to Afghanistan and fighting for Taliban when Ghaddafi was in power.

Talendria
Talendria

I understand that the people don't want any more killing, but they're going to have to pick a side and fight for it just as every citizen must in times of revolution.  If the moderates cower in a corner while the extremists take over, they're all going to die at the hands of Salafists, Israel, or the United States.  Radical Islam is incapable of coexisting with any other philosophy.

sha_g
sha_g

you mean like radical christianity, radical judaism, radical Buddhism....yep! The radicals really hate one another.

Obamarrhoids
Obamarrhoids

"Radical Islam is incapable of coexisting with any other philosophy"..... or itself. They blow each other up in huge numbers just for fun. Conflict resolution for Muslims is mass murder.