By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli 21 September:
A suspect in the US consulate attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues has been . . .[restrict]named as Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu, according to Fox News of the US.
Describing Bin Qumu as “a solid lead” the US TV station said: “US intelligence sources tell Fox that he may not only have had a role in the attack at the US consulate, he may have actually led it.”
Derna-born Bin Qumu was held in Guantanamo Bay for six years, where his behaviour was described as uncooperative and aggressive, before being released from detention in 2007, on condition that he continued to be detained by Libyan authorities. In 2010, however, he was released from Abu Salim prison as part of an amnesty for anti-regime prisoners.
According the 2005 file on the suspect compiled by the US during his Guantanamo detention and released by Wikileaks, the assessment of Bin Qumu stated: “the detainee poses a medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”
The irony is that when he headed the resistance in Derna during the revolution, he was hailed by some US politicians as a hero. After the downfall of the Qaddafi regime, it is thought that he established the Libyan branch of the group Ansar al-Sharia (Soldiers of Sharia) which has been widely-implicated in the attack.
In his secret Guantanamo file which surfaced via Wikileaks in 2011, Bin Qumu was assessed as: “A former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a probable member of Al Qaida, and a member of the North African Extremist Network (NAEN).” The report also states that the Libyan Government itself considered him to be a “dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts. He was known as one of the extremist commanders of the Afghan Arabs.”
Before his involvement with militant Islamic groups, his file states Bin Qumu had a history of illegal activities. It reported that in 1993, aged 35, Qumu escaped from prison in Libya, where he was serving a ten-year sentence for crimes including murder, armed assault and drug-dealing. He headed to Egypt and then Afghanistan, where he apparently trained at Osama Bin Laden’s Torkham Camp, before embarking on a career of involvement with extremist groups, spending time in Sudan and Pakistan.
He is said to have gone under seven known aliases, one of which was, according to the Guantanamo file: “Found on a list of probable Al-Qaida personnel receiving monthly stipends. His alias was also found on Al-Qaida’s 11 September attacks financier Mustafa Al Hawsawi’s laptop as an Al-Qaida member receiving family support.”
When he was interviewed last year by a reporter from the New York Review of Books, he was described as a recluse, “convinced that Western intelligence agencies are still hunting him.”
Sporting combed-down hennaed hair and nursing a Kalashnikov, in further irony Bin Qumu apparently hailed the US “as a protector of the weak” and pronounced the US-led bombardment as “a gift from God.”
Bin Qumu, diagnosed in his Guantanamo fileas having “a non-specific personality disorder” and latent tuberculosis, for which he refused treatment, is reportedly still living in his hometown of Derna.
At least 50 individuals involved in the US consulate assault have reportedly been identified, of which last week some 12 were said to have been arrested. The Libyan government has also issued an order to disband Ansar al-Sharia.
In June this year, the group staged an armed attack on the Tunisia Embassy in Benghazi, ripping down the Tunisian flag. Earlier in the month they had organised an armed rally in the streets of Benghazi, demanding the full implementation of Sharia Law in Libya.