The balance of power could reduce the possibility of an Islamist backlash, which might have occurred if early indications of a secular landslide had been realized. In the immediate aftermath of the elections, a number of Islamist leaders appeared to be laying the groundwork for a refutation of the legitimacy of the government. AP wrote on 9 July: “Rivals say that Jibril has led a fear-mongering campaign against Islamists and capitalized on Libyans' fear of another chaotic Egyptian or Tunisian scenario.” The agency quoted Mahmoud Al Shebani, a candidate of the National Parties' Bloc, who said: "[The NFA] launched an extensive campaign warning that Islamists will turnLibyato Taliban or will rule like Khomeini”. Likewise Mohammed Sawan, leader of the JCP, told the Libya Herald on 12 July that “Jibril believes that Sharia can only deal with certain aspects of life. He is like Qadhafi in his views on Sharia. But Islam does not believe you can pick and choose… The government must enforce Islam in every aspect of its work”.
Tripolitania and Tripoli
The main security events inTripoli during this reporting period were two unrelated kidnap dramas within the city. On 10 July the Souq Al-Jumaa Brigade under High Security Committee (HSC) auspices undertook a large-scale rescue operation to release a boy kidnapped for ransom. A four hour gun battle raged early on 10 July after a child was abducted near Independence Street and held ransom for 100,000 dinars. The kidnappers consisted of a family of local drug dealers and one or more North African foreigners, including an Algerian man who was killed in the fighting. Around two hundred HSC fighters participated, suffering one dead and four wounded. The Algerian man was the only kidnapper killed or wounded in the fighting. On 15 July Nabil Al-Alem, Libya’s Olympic committee president, was snatched from his car by eight or nine gunmen. The kidnappers had claimed to be from the army and had asked him to come with them “politely”.
In Bani Walid, a former Qadhafi stronghold southeast ofTripoli, a hostage crisis of even larger proportions unfolded between 10-15 July. The crisis began with the kidnapping of two Misratah journalists, leading a local Misratah commander, Mohammed Al Swehli, to give Bani Walid 48 hours to free the journalists (on 10 July). Numerous interlocutors including National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil sought to prevent a military clash as Misratan militias with heavy weapons began to assemble east of Bani Walid. Misratan leaders used the crisis to underline federal government weakness. On 10 July the Security Battalion of Misratah, led by Juma Belhadj, said it was ready to act if the government did not. On 11 July that Ali Al Swehli, leader of Misratah’s largest political party, the Union for the Homeland, said the government lacks security forces capable of intervention and relies on militias: “The government has no forces, it has nothing it can do, it cannot go inside Bani Walid”. The crisis appeared to be nearing resolution on 15 July, two days after the Misratan deadline, with an agreement to hold prisoner swap, with the two journalists exchanged for prisoners-of-war from Bani Walid still held by Misratah. Sounding a note of caution, Misratan television journalist Tahrir Zaroug – whose coverage has been consistently hawkish - said: “Mostly these are Qadhafi loyalists captured either during or shortly after the revolution. However, Misratah will not be releasing anybody against whom evidence of criminal activity exists”.