For many Libyans, the death of Ambassador Stevens represented an unacceptable excess on the part of the militants. Ansar al-Shariah, is the group suspected in the killings.
About 30,000 Libyans in Benghazi poured into a square in front of the main encampment of the group, unfurled a Libyan flag and shouted “with our lives and souls, we redeem you, Benghazi!,” Al Jazeera and other news services reported. Some held signs reading “The ambassador was Libya’s friend,” and “Libya lost a friend.”
They didn’t just protest in front of the group’s headquarters. They broke in and chased the jihadis out, allegedly freeing 20 captives in the process. (“The capture of the base was celebrated elsewhere in the city by parades of cars touring the streets, honking their horns.”) Several protesters were reportedly wounded in the process. Reminds me a bit of the Awakening in Anbar province: When your “security” is being provided by jihadist mafias who are running protection rackets and killing opponents, after awhile you’re going to get fed up. Stevens’s killing (and the prospect of losing much-needed American aid) may have catalyzed a backlash, and not just in Benghazi. The AP reports that even residents in jihadist-friendly Darna are exasperated:
The anti-militia fervor in Darna is notable because the city, in the mountains along the Mediterranean coast north of Benghazi, has long had a reputation as a stronghold for Islamic extremists. During the Gadhafi era, it was the hotbed of a deadly Islamist insurgency against his regime. A significant number of the Libyan jihadists who travelled to Afghanistan and Iraq during recent wars came from Darna. During the revolt against him last year, Gadhafi’s regime warned that Darna would declare itself an Islamic Emirate and ally itself with al-Qaida…
“The killing of the ambassador blew up the situation. It was disastrous,” said Ayoub al-Shedwi, a young bearded Muslim preacher in Darna who says he has received multiple death threats because has spoken out against militias on a radio show he hosts. “We felt that the revolution is going in vain.”…
Leaders of tribes, which are the strongest social force in eastern Libya, have come forward to demand that the militias disband. Tribal leaders in Benghazi and Darna announced this week that members of their tribes who are militiamen will no longer have their protection in the face of anti-militia protests. That means the tribe will not avenge them if they are killed.
Among the many jihadists from Darna: Abu Sufian Qumu, the alleged ringleader of the assault on the Benghazi consulate.
Not sure if this is enough to spare Libya from efforts to cut foreign aid overseas, but it certainly gives them a leg up on Egypt and Pakistan. For your listening pleasure, two major voices in that debate: First, Rand Paul with Michael Medved, and second, Marco Rubio on the floor of the Senate.