Gulf of Sidra, Cyrenaica and Benghazi
The east of the country remained active in late December through into early January with a continuation of assassinations, explosions and a number of attacks against security facilities. The area from Benghazi to Tocra, Al Abyar, and Al Marj, in addition to Derna and the Jebel Al Akhdar region also remained active. Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail acknowledged that the wave of assassinations and explosions witnessed in Benghazi in late 2012 was the greatest challenge facing his ministry. Security throughout eastern Cyrenaica will remain precarious in January.
Press Solidarity reported that the head of the ‘17 February Union of Rebels’ Mohammed Al Barasi, claimed that he was targeted in an assassination attack on 31 December due to his political activism and efforts to improve the security situation in Benghazi. In a separate report, AFP wrote that Islamist leader Ahmed Abu Khattalah claimed that one man was killed and another injured while planting a bomb to target him on the night of 6 January in Benghazi. Khattalah is being sought by the US for possible connections to Ansar Al Sharia and the 11 September 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Khattalah led the Abu Ubayda Bin Al Jarrah Battalion during the war, which was reported to have been a sub-group of Ansar Al Sharia.
The Libya Herald reported that the head of the Benghazi Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Abdul Salam Al Mihdawi, was abducted in the evening of 2 January in Benghazi by an unknown armed group. According to reports Al Mihdawi was taken as his vehicle stopped at a traffic light on Venezia Street in the Hawari district of the city. In a separate but possibly related report, the Libya Herald reported the body of Colonel Nasser Al Maghrabi, another officer from Benghazi’s CID was found in the Sidi Faraj area of the city in the early hours of 5 January.