Twenty-four hours after Al-Qaeda’s Hassan Mohammed Qaed (aka Abu Yahya Al-Libi) was killed in a drone strike in June, a group calling itself Brigades of Imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman detonated an IED outside the US Consulate in Benghazi.
Filming, they interspersed their video with images of Osama bin Laden and released it online. Previously on May 22, the same group targeted the Red Cross in Benghazi, demanding the release of Sheikh Abdul Rahman, imprisoned in America for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Five days after the June attack, they used RPGs to attack two guards at the British Consulate — again in Benghazi — and on June 12 hit the Red Cross in Misrata.
Drones began flying over Derna in east Libya, home to the 200-300-strong militants. US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens said in a 2008 diplomatic cable that Derna was a “well-spring of Libyan foreign fighters” for Al-Qaeda, having sent more men than anywhere in the world to Iraq to fight. Violence escalating, Frederic Wehrey wrote in Foreign Affairs in July, “Hired guns might be sowing the seeds for the country’s descent into warlordism.”
On Sept. 10, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, in a lengthy Al-Shabab video declared Al-Libi’s “…blood is calling, urging and inciting you to fight and kill the crusaders…”