Note: The New York Times spells his name Ahmed Abu Khattala while the Wall Street Journal is spelling his name Ahmed Abu Khattalah. I will keep this section updated but just as there were many different spellings of Qaddafi over the years, I expect we will see a mix until something settles.
Yesterday reports suggested that the Obama administration is considering possible military strikes in retaliation for the September 11th attacks in Benghazi Libya. Today we hear word of a rising star in Libyan terrorist networks we never heard much of until now. Interesting.
If we do take action against Libya, what would we strike? Who would we be targeting? It is seemingly likely that a figure you will start hearing a lot about is named, Ahmed Abu Khattalah (Khattala), a militant fighter who reportedly helped form Benghazi based Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia. Khattalah was reported to be at the scene of the murder of Christopher Stevens and other Americans during the attack. Some witnesses claim Khattalah was actually leading the attack.
Ansar al-Sharia was described by the New York Times as a “a puritanical militant group that wants to advance Islamic law in Libya.” The name means “supporters of Islamic law.”
The Times reported:
American official involved in a separate United States investigation declined to comment on any particular suspects, but he indicated that the United States was tracking Mr. Abu Khattala and cautioned that the leadership of the attack might have been broader than a single man. “Ansar al-Sharia is not only a shadowy group, it’s also quite factionalized,” the official said. “There isn’t necessarily one overall military commander of the group.”
During Qaddafi’s reign Khattalah was said to be an opposition fighter who was imprisoned in Abu Salim jail. During the American backed uprising last year he was released from prison along with other militants. As forces aligned against Qaddafi and toward a new sectarian government, Khattalah joined others in forming Ansar al-Sharia to denounce Western-style democracy in favor of a nation that embraces Islamic law. In short, he sounds like one of the many fun people the United States aligned itself with to overthrow the Libyan government.
If reports of his involvement in the September 11th attacks are true, it furthers the argument that our nation haphazardly embraced an uprising it didn’t quite understand and may well have unleashed forces that may be more hostile to our interests than the government we helped overthrow.
If the United States embarks on any retaliation for the attacks, it is likely Khattalah will be a target and a name the media is going to start talking a lot about.