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With the Rise of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and Tunisia, Al Qaeda Starts New Offensive in North Africa

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image Ansar al-Sharia members demonstrating in Libya

The North Africa Journal | The assassination of American diplomats in Libya has brought to the forefront a new Salafist group with Jihadist tendencies called Ansar al-Sharia. Although the attack against the American consular office was seemingly carried out as a retaliation for an amateur movie insulting to Islam and its Prophet Mohamed, all fingers point to Ansar al-Sharia as being behind the killings for reasons that are not necessarily related to the film in question.

As we seek to learn more about Ansar al-Sharia, we conclude that Al-Qaeda Central is using that organization to open a new operational front in northeastern Africa, a region that used to be a heavily controlled by the security services of the now-defunct regimes of dictators Ben Ali and Gadaffi.

Today, Ansar al-Sharia has a solid presence in both Libya and Tunisia, acting as a rising sister organization of AQIM, which is operating in northwest Africa and in the Sahara/Sahel region.

Taking advantage of a power vacuum, weaknesses in the current interim governments,  and embryonic security forces [read analysis here], the Jihadists are looking at Tunisia and Libya as the perfect places to move their momentum forward. Their actions are even more important now that their AQIM counterparts are bracing for a potential offensive of the region’s nations to remove them from power in northern Mali, and so new operational theaters are needed.  As we wrote back in 2010, the Big Jelly Ball of Global Insecurity [click here to download free analysis] is alive and expanding.  Continue here | Click here to subscribe | Contact us to discuss this topic.

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