By Maha Ellawati and George Grant.
Benghazi and Tripoli, 21 November:
The head of Benghazi’s security directorate was assassinated this morning when he was shot by unidentified assailants in front of his house in the Sabri district of the city. The attackers are reported to have fired six shots from a Mitsubishi Lancer before fleeing the scene.
Colonel Faraj Mohammed Idris Drissi was immediately rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. The motive of the assailants is not yet known, but there are suspicions the attack may relate to a decree circulated by the security directorate on 10 October to all police stations in Benghazi authorising officers to use force against outlawed militias still operating in the city.
The decision read as follows: “To the head of departments and national security stations, you are authorised to use force against all outlaws of armed brigades, those who storm your headquarters in order to release detainees, confiscate your weapons, sabotage equipment or damage vehicles. I will take full responsibility for such decisions as an official”.
Benghazi has been the scene of a disturbing spate of killings against senior security officials over the past year, almost all of whom were formally associated with the Qaddafi regime.
Drissi was well known in Benghazi for his role in combating drugs in the city during the Qaddafi era and subsequently, but he was not not believed to have been politically involved with the regime. His work in this regard may also have made him a target.
To date, Drissi is reckoned to be the eighteenth senior security officer to have been murdered in Benghazi this year, in what some believe is a systematic campaign of targeted assassination.