Extremists now control secretive US base in Libya

Extremists now control secretive US base in Libya
Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:06:08

A key extremist leader and longtime member of Al-Qaeda has taken control of a secretive training facility set up by US special operations forces on the Libyan coastline to help hunt down extremist militants, according to local media reports, extremists web forums, and US officials.

In the summer of 2012, American Green Berets began refurbishing a Libyan military base 27 kilometers west of Tripoli in order to hone the skills of Libya’s first Western-trained special operations counter-terrorism fighters. Less than two years later, that training camp is now being used by groups with direct links to Al-Qaeda to foment chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya.

Last week, the Libyan press reported that the camp (named “27” for the kilometer marker on the road between Tripoli and Tunis) was now under the command of Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr Tantoush, a veteran associate of Osama bin Laden who was first designated as part of Al-Qaeda’s support network in 2002 by the United States and the United Nations. The report said he was heading a group of Salifist fighters from the former Libyan base.

In other words, Tantoush is now the chief of a training camp the US and Libyan governments had hoped would train Libyan special operations forces to catch militants like Tantoush.

One US defense official told The Daily Beast that the media report matched US intelligence reporting from Libya. Another US official in Washington said intelligence analysts were aware of the reports but had yet to corroborate them, however. A spokesman for Africa Command declined to comment for the story.

Tantoush himself on Tuesday evening gave an interview to Libyan television where he confirmed that he was in the country but also said he had not direct or indirect link to the camp. In the interview, Tantoush, who was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of two US embassies in Africa, also claimed he has never participated in terror attacks for Al-Qaeda, and boasted of traveling to Libya on a fake passport.

According to one US official who is read into the training program, the camp today is considered a “denied area,” or a place where US forces would have to fight their way in to gain access. Until now, the Western press has not reported that the base used to train Libyan special operations forces was seized by the militants those troops were supposed to find, fix and finish.


string(694) "[{"id":"1531143","sort":"3195673","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/11/04/alalam_635191764804494465_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"East Libya launches autonomous government"} ,{"id":"1535257","sort":"3195674","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/11/17/alalam_635203236718891547_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Libya declares state of emergency amid deadly unrest"} ,{"id":"1549170","sort":"3195675","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/12/28/alalam_635238631082416300_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Libya releases 4 detained US military officers"} ,{"id":"1584792","sort":"3195676","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/04/13/alalam_635329913264784069_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Turkey, US, UK smuggle Libya's guns into Syria: Report"} ]"