The covert U.S. military raid to capture a senior Libyan al Qaeda leader in Tripoli has triggered threats against Americans and other anti-U.S. sentiment in the volatile north African state.
The most serious threat included a posting on Facebook warning that U.S. journalists in the country will be kidnapped and used to try and exchange them for Abu Anas al Libi, who was snatched by commandos on Saturday in the Libyan capital.
Most of the threats appeared on the Facebook page “We are all Nazih al Rugai”—another name used by al Libi. The site was opened Oct. 6 and closed on Wednesday.
Other Libyan Islamists issued threats to target U.S. interests in North Africa, Malta, and Italy. The group Al Ruqayat Rebels Assembly posted the statement on Facebook and said the attacks would be in retaliation for the “treacherous abduction” of al Libi.
Islamists also called for mass demonstrations outside the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
Regarding the capture of U.S. journalists, an Oct. 9 posting on the Facebook site in Arabic stated that the “best defense is a good offense.”
“I am speaking now about swap deals,” the posting stated. “The government, the [General National] Congress, and the state shall know that America has breached the covenant with its nationals staying now in the country. Now, they are not protected by any covenant or agreement. I say frankly that the kidnapping and disappearance of journalists working for the intelligence service and touring the country will continue to take place in the country until the Libyan citizen [Abu Anas al Libi] is back to his country and his people with pride. O agents of America, we warn you.”
Other posts promised to provide the coordinates of the ship in the Mediterranean where al Libi is reportedly being held and interrogated.
Another Facebook page by a Benghazi Islamist group said all American “infidels” and their allies would be arrested in response to the al Libi rendition.
Still another Facebook statement said Libyan “rebels” would oust Libya’s prime minister by force.
A day later, on Thursday, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, was kidnapped and held temporarily before being released unharmed by a group angered at the leader for alleged support for the U.S. snatch operation against al Libi.
The incident is an indicator of the backlash created by the commando raid that involved U.S. special operations commandos who infiltrated the Libyan capital, surrounded al Libi’s vehicle near his house, abducted him and escaped.
The General National Congress, Libya’s most senior national authority, also called the capture of al Libi “flagrant aggression” against sovereignty and demanded that he be turned over immediately.
In Asia, traveling Secretary of State John Kerry defended the takedown of the al Qaeda leader.
“I hope the perception is in the world that people who commit acts of terror and who have been appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process, will know that United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security,” Kerry told reporters in Bali, Indonesia.
The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al Sharia, that has been linked by U.S. officials to the September 2012 terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, denounced the al Libi operation but did not issue a direct threat against the United States, a U.S. official said.
However, Ansar al Sharia criticized the Libyan government for weakness in allowing the operation and called for a major campaign to seek al Libi’s release.
News reports said al Libi is on a ship in the Mediterranean and will eventually be transported to New York for prosecution on charges he was involved in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings killed more than 200 people, including 12 Americans.
Ansar al Sharia’s statement was described as vehemently hostile to the United States but stopped short of calling for attacks.
U.S. officials were privately critical of the U.S. raid for failing to capture the terrorists involved in the attack and burning of the Benghazi diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA facility on Sept. 11, 2012.
The terrorists involved in the attack are known to be residing in Benghazi but have not yet been captured.
A senior administration official told the Free Beacon this week that security and intelligence forces are “focused heavily on delivering justice to the Benghazi attackers, and no other recent action takes away from that laser focus.”
Meanwhile Somalia, where a second commando raid on Saturday was unsuccessful in targeting a leader of the al Qaeda group Al Shabaab, news reports from the region said the Somali group had arrested three members of the Islamist group who they said were linked to the U.S. commando raid against the southern seaport town of Baraawe.
Other Somali news reports said the Somalian government planned military strikes on Baraawe in an effort to oust the Al Shabaab terrorists.