June 7th, 2012
06:28 PM ET

Libyan official: U.S. drones seeking jihadists in Libya

By Nic Robertson, Paul Cruickshank and Jomana Karadsheh reporting from Tripoli, Libya

A senior Libyan official told CNN that the U.S. is flying surveillance missions with drones over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya because of concerns over rising activity by al Qaeda and like-minded groups in the region but said that to the best of his knowledge, they had not been used to fire missiles at militant training camps in the area.

The revelation follows a failed attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on Tuesday night, which a shadowy jihadist group claimed was to avenge the death of al Qaeda No. 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi.

The official said that one militant commander operating in Derna, Abdulbasit Azuz, had complained that a drone strike had targeted his training camp in the east of Libya.  Last month, there were reports of explosions outside the Derna area in the vicinity of the camps, according to a different source.

The CIA's covert drone strike program is rarely publicly acknowledged.  It has been widely reported that drones have been deployed to target militants in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The U.S. flew drones for a while after the NATO intervention in Libya to monitor chemical and biological sites, US military officials tell CNN. But the officials would not comment on whether drone flights were ongoing.

The senior Libyan official said it would be bad if such a strike had occurred. He added that the Americans' use of drones in a surveillance capacity had been discussed at the top level of the transitional Libyan government.

As CNN has reported, Azuz is a senior al Qaeda operative and longtime close associate of the group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was dispatched to Libya from the tribal areas of Pakistan in spring 2011, according to several sources.  There, he subsequently recruited fighters.

Azuz is a veteran jihadist who fought the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, according to several sources.  He later to moved to the UK, where he increasingly came on the radar screen of British security services for his radical recruitment efforts in Manchester.  In the period after the July 2005 London bombings, he was detained in the Belmarsh high-security prison and placed under a Control order, according to the sources.

He left the UK in 2009 and traveled to the tribal areas of Pakistan, from where al-Zawahiri redeployed him to Libya to set up a bridgehead for the terrorist group, according to the sources.

According to one source, Azuz has dispatched men as far west as Ajdabiya and Brega in his attempt to build up al Qaeda operations in eastern Libya.

According to the senior Libyan official, five radical Islamist militant commanders are operating in the Derna area, with 200 to 300 men under their command in the camps.

According to Libyan security sources, within the militant ranks in Derna, there are 20 to 30 hardcore jihadist fighters who are cause for most concern. One source said a number of Egyptian jihadists are also present in the Derna area, as well as fighters belonging to al Qaeda's North African affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Recently, Libya's grand mufti, Asadiq Gherayli, met with the five militant commanders, and four of them, including Azuz, agreed with the government terms not to carry out attacks.

Only one refused: Sufian bin Qumu (also known as Abu Faris al Libi), a released Guantanamo detainee who is believed to be operating a camp in the mountainous woods along the sea outside Derna.

Qumu, 53 is a Libyan jihadist who participated in jihad in Afghanistan in the early and mid-1990s and joined the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in Sudan in the mid-1990s, where he worked as a truck driver for bin Laden's company, according to a detainee assessment compiled while he was at Guantanamo.

He subsequently moved to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan, during which time he left the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and declared allegiance to the Taliban, according to the assessment. He was arrested in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban and handed over to U.S. authorities.

The assessment described him as having a "long-term association with Islamist extremist Jihad and members of Al-Qaida and other extremist groups."

Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan government said the assessment considered him "a dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts." The assessment said he had once assaulted guards at the detention facility in Cuba.

It added that before becoming a jihadist, Qumu had served as a tank driver in the Libyan army before spending several years in prison on accusations of murder and drug dealing. It was after his escape in 1993 that he first traveled to Afghanistan.

According to one source, locals in Derna believe he was behind an assassination attempt several months ago on Abdel Hakim al Hasadi, another militant commander in the city.

Several senior Libyan officials said they were aware of Azuz and Qumu's presence in the Derna area.

They say local tribes, including the Obeidi tribe, which control the area are keeping watch on the camps. One source said the tribes have the authority to capture and kill the occupants. "No one who leaves ever goes back," one source said.

Another source said that the militants are proving increasingly unpopular in Derna and that residents recently forced one group to vacate a camp on the outskirts of the city.

The jihadist group that claimed responsibility for the failed attack on the U.S. Mission in leaflets left at the scene called itself the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades. It promised more attacks against American interests.

It was first heard from late last month, when it claimed responsibility for an attack on a Red Cross office in Benghazi. A purported video of the attack was apparently posted on jihadist websites that regularly feature statements by al Qaeda. The video showed several rockets being fired into a building at night.

In claiming responsibility, the group stated, "We do not recognize (state) borders when we plan for our operations, and we have prepared a message that will soon reach America in response to polluting the clarity of the defiant city of Derna," according to a translation by Flashpoint Partners, which monitors jihadist websites.

According to a source in touch with jihadist militants in eastern Libya, there are indications the group has roots in the Derna area.

soundoff (588 Responses)
  1. zithromax pill

    zithromax perscription https://zithromaxes.com/ z-pak generic name

    April 16, 2021 at 8:31 am | Reply
  2. cialis canadian

    cialis canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ canadian meds cialis

    April 14, 2021 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  3. alprostadil injection instructions

    alprostadil suppository demonstration video https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil urethral suppository

    April 11, 2021 at 8:49 pm | Reply
  4. Fbshreext

    https://thesisacloud.com/ – research thesis proposal for thesis good thesis statement thesis consultant

    April 2, 2021 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  5. Abgcreext

    https://thesiswritingtob.com/ – thesis for dummies thesis statistics online thesis thesis editing service

    April 2, 2021 at 6:28 am | Reply
  6. BrfgVelm

    https://ljcialishe.com/ – how long does cialis take to work https://cialisvja.com/ – generic cialis for sale https://viagraonlinejc.com/ – street value of viagra https://viagratx.com/ – how long does viagra last in your system https://buycialisxz.com/ – purchase cialis

    March 29, 2021 at 9:45 am | Reply
  7. Jvqqreext

    https://dissertationahelp.com/ – education dissertation doctoral dissertation database phd dissertation help dissertation binding

    March 27, 2021 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  8. Grvclups

    https://kloviagrli.com/ – natural viagra alternative https://vigedon.com/ – viagra sample https://llecialisjaw.com/ – cialis half life https://jwcialislrt.com/ – how long for cialis to peak https://jecialisbn.com/ – does medicare cover cialis

    March 25, 2021 at 11:25 am | Reply
  9. Gearldine Lafemina

    Wow! This could be one particular of the most helpful blogs We've ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I'm also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 25, 2021 at 8:43 am | Reply
  10. Ermelinda Schaumberg

    I think other web site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and wonderful user genial style and design, as well as the content. You're an expert in this topic!

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 25, 2021 at 8:14 am | Reply
  11. Nick Seier

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 25, 2021 at 1:59 am | Reply
  12. Edwin Krusor

    Great write-up, I am normal visitor of one¦s website, maintain up the excellent operate, and It's going to be a regular visitor for a long time.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 24, 2021 at 11:51 pm | Reply
  13. Logan Halgren

    Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web site is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you?¦ve on this site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched everywhere and simply couldn't come across. What a perfect web-site.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 24, 2021 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  14. Brett Dicampli

    Terrific post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 24, 2021 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  15. Lmoppreext

    http://essaywriteris.com/ – best essay writing do my essay for me cheap i cant write my essay essay service cheap

    March 23, 2021 at 3:17 am | Reply
  16. froleprotrem

    I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 19, 2021 at 5:57 am | Reply
  17. froleprotrem

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own web site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 18, 2021 at 11:17 am | Reply
  18. froleprotrem

    Hi my family member! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and come with almost all important infos. I¦d like to peer more posts like this .

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 15, 2021 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  19. frolep rotrem

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I'm hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming as well. Actually your creative writing skills has encouraged me to get my own website now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings fast. Your write up is a great example of it.

    http://www.froleprotrem.com/

    March 14, 2021 at 5:42 am | Reply
  20. notebook as a wallet

    Hi there! This article couldn't be written any better!

    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept speaking about this. I am going to forward
    this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a very good read.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    my web page; notebook as a wallet

    March 12, 2021 at 5:36 am | Reply
  21. pocket notebook wallet

    great points altogether, you just won a logo new reader.
    What might you suggest about your post that you simply made a number of days in the
    past? Any sure?

    my blog post – pocket notebook wallet

    March 8, 2021 at 1:13 am | Reply
  22. midori traveler's notebook wallet

    Helpful information. Lucky me I found your site unintentionally,
    and I am surprised why this twist of fate didn't happened in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

    my web blog: midori traveler's notebook wallet

    March 7, 2021 at 4:21 am | Reply
  23. Tereasa Prattella

    I was looking at some of your content on this site and I conceive this web site is rattling instructive! Keep on putting up.

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    March 6, 2021 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  24. Nbmofiple

    cialis purchase canada 30 day free trial of cialis cialis sales canadian

    March 2, 2021 at 7:11 am | Reply
  25. stickers kit

    Awesome post.

    My web site – stickers kit

    March 2, 2021 at 5:10 am | Reply
  26. Fjjufiple

    viagra and cocaine http://viagraonlinejc.com/ teva generic viagra cost

    March 1, 2021 at 9:42 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.