Benghazi Anti-Militia Protest: Libyans March Against Armed Groups After U.S. Embassy Attack
Tens of thousands of Libyans marched to the gates of one of the country’s strongest armed Islamic extremist groups Friday, demanding it disband, as the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and four other Americans sparked a public backlash against militias that run rampant in the country and defy the country’s new, post-Moammar Gadhafi leadership.
For many Libyans, last week’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi was the last straw with one of the biggest problems Libya has faced since Gadhafi’s ouster and death around a year ago - the multiple mini-armies that with their arsenals of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades are stronger than the regular armed forces and police.
The militias, a legacy of the rag-tag popular forces that fought Gadhafi’s regime, tout themselves as protectors of Libya’s revolution, providing security where police cannot. But many say they act like gangs, detaining and intimidating rivals and carrying out killings. Militias made up of Islamic radicals are notorious for attacks on Muslims who don’t abide by their hardline ideology. Officials and witnesses say fighters from one Islamic militia, Ansar al-Shariah, led the Sept. 11 attack on the Benghazi consulate.