Libya jihadist group Ansar Al-Sharia announces dissolution

Libya jihadist group Ansar Al-Sharia announces dissolution.(AFP)
Updated 28 May 2017

Libya jihadist group Ansar Al-Sharia announces dissolution

TRIPOLI: The Libyan jihadist group Ansar Al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organization by the UN and United States, announced its “dissolution” in a communique published online on Saturday.
Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Ansar Al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014.
East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi.
In its communique Ansar Al-Sharia said it had been “weakened” by the fighting.
The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar’s forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014.
Most of its members then defected to the so-called Daesh group. Ansar Al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shoura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias.
At its zenith, Ansar Al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya.
The organization took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Qaddafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.


Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

Updated 13 min 27 sec ago

Israelis jam Jerusalem streets over bill to curb protests

  • A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset
  • The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign

JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Israeli motorists protested in Jerusalem on Tuesday against a proposed measure to curtail public demonstrations during the current nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A large convoy of cars clogged the streets surrounding the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and scores of people also demonstrated in a square outside the building as lawmakers debated a measure that would effectively clamp down on the weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his Jerusalem residence.
The demonstrations in central Jerusalem have drawn thousands each week for the past several months, the largest sustained protests against Netanyahu in nearly a decade. Many of the cars in Tuesday’s motorcade were festooned with Israeli or black flags, one of the symbols of the protest movement.
The Israeli government imposed a second countrywide lockdown ahead of the Jewish High Holidays earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Protests have been permitted, but influential ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have fumed over restrictions on prayers while the mass demonstrations have kept up.
The demonstrators have called on Netanyahu to resign, saying he is unfit to serve while on trial for corruption charges and accusing him of bungling his management of the coronavirus crisis and economic damage it has caused.
Netanyahu has said the protests must end due to public health concerns. But protesters say he is using the crisis as a pretext to muzzle them.
Israel announced the lockdown earlier this month and tightened it last week in response to one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks. The measures have closed schools, malls, restaurants and hundreds of businesses.
The lockdown was initially slated to be lifted on Oct. 11, after the three-week autumn holiday season, but in a radio interview on Tuesday, Israel’s health minister said the nationwide shutdown would likely be extended.
“There is no scenario that in another 10 days we will lift everything and say ‘it’s all over, everything is ok,’” Yuli Edelstein told Israel Radio. He said the Health Ministry was prepared for the possibility of a surge in new cases, and that “reopening of the economy and our lives will be gradual and slow.”
Israel, a country of 9 million people, has recorded over 233,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,500 deaths from the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to the Health Ministry. The ministry said Tuesday the country has for the first time surpassed the US, one of the world’s worst hit countries, in per capita daily coronavirus deaths.
While Israel garnered praise for its swift response to the arrival of the pandemic in the spring, the country reopened its economy too quickly in May and infections have skyrocketed since then.