Benghazi has descended into a state of civil emergency in which lawless militia have begun killing protestors with impunity, in the name of the puppet government the United States has established in Tripoli.
A group of highly credible Libyan expatriates have provided WND with links to television news video clips from Libya dramatically showing armed militia in Benghazi on June 8, firing indiscriminately on civilians attempting to protest the increasing influence of radical Islam thug groups with loose ties to al-Qaida.
A key group promoting the violence is Libyan Shield, a militia originally known as the Free Libya Martyrs. It is commanded by Wesam Bin Hameed, the Islamic extremist who, as WND previously reported, has the personal effects of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens locked in a safe.
The New York Times reported this week that the Libyan government has given Libya Shield under the control of Bin Hameed official status, rather than demanding it disband.
In the war against Gadhafi, Bin Hameed came to prominence commanding Libya Shield, then fighting under the banner of Free Libya Martyrs, in the takeover of Tripoli at the end of the NATO bombing operation.
In October 2012, Bin Hameed’s Libya Shield, a radical group composed primarily of violent Islamic fighters from Libya’s port city of Misrata, encircled and pummeled with mortar and artillery fire ethnic Libyans in Bani Walid, an area some 170 kilometers southeast of Tripoli that had remained loyal to Gadhafi during and after the so-called “Arab Spring.”
Last Sunday, Libya’s army chief, Gen. Yusef al-Mangoush, resigned under criticism for his failure to form a national army by bringing under control the various radical Islamic militia now terrorizing much of the Libyan population.
Jomaa Atiga, the vice president of the General National Congress, announced last week the Libyan government was being given two weeks to submit a planned to disband the armed militia and integrate their members into the regular security forces, an objective few unbiased observers feel will be accomplished any time soon.
In May, Muhammad al-Magarief, the chairman of the General National Congress, resigned under a new law banning from public office anyone who had worked for the Gadhafi government.
Directly contradicting the Obama administration narrative, Magaief insisted immediately after the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012, that the assault was a premeditated terrorist attack carried out by foreigners who had entered Libya a few months earlier.
Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at Human Rights Watch, confirmed to WND in an interview an Associated Press report Monday that Russian-made SA-7 portable, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems, known as MANPADS, that likely came from Gadhafi’s arms depots in Libya are now in the possession of Islamic terrorists in Mali who have links to al-Qaida.
“I visited a lot of the weapons storage facilities in Libya after the fall of Gadhafi, and I found that a lot of the MANPADS were missing,” Bouckaert explained. “We also had the shipping documents from Russia. For many years, Russia was one of the main weapons suppliers to Gadhafi. We raised the alarm about the missing weapons back then.”
Bouckaert also confirmed there were Russian SA-7 MANPADS in the three cartons of weapons and ammunition confiscated in April 2012, when Lebanon intercepted the cargo vessel Luftfallah II, registered in Sierra Leone. The ship had departed from Libya bound for the Free Syrian Army, a coalition of rebel fighters seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In early 2011, when Bouckaert was in Libya making an inventory of weapons then in Libyan government weapons depots, he took photographs of pickup truckloads of SA-7 missiles being carted off and carried away.
“I myself could have removed several hundred [SA-7s] if I wanted to, and people can literally drive up with pickup trucks or even 18 wheelers and take away whatever they want,” Bouckaert told ABC News at the time. “Every time I arrive at one of these weapons facilities, the first thing we notice going missing is the surface-to-air missiles.”
In an interview given one month before the Benghazi attack, former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who died in the attack, told ABC News that he personally was going into the field to track down MANPADS and destroy them.
ABC News reported that after the fall of Gadhafi, the State Department launched a mission to find the thousands of MANPADS looted from military installations before the weapons fell in the hands of terrorists, causing a threat particularly to commercial airliners.
Doherty further told ABC News that he traveled throughout Libya chasing reports of the weapons, and once they were found, his team would destroy them on the spot by beating them with hammers or repeatedly running over the weapons with their vehicles.
In September 2011, a year prior to the Benghazi attack, ABC news reported the White House was working with “the rebel Transnational National Council” in Libya to find the looted SA-7 missiles.
U.S. running guns in Libya?
“We expect to deploy additional personnel to assist the TNC as they expand efforts to secure conventional arms storage sites,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at the time. “We’re obviously at a governmental level – both State Department and at the U.N. and elsewhere – working with the TNC on this.”
Just five days before Ambassador Stevens and Doherty were killed in Benghazi, a Libyan-flagged vessel, the Al-Entisar, which means “The Victory,” was intercepted in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, 35 miles from the Syrian border, carrying weapons en route to rebel groups in Syria fighting Assad.
This discovery caused Fox News at the time to speculate that Ambassador Stevens may have been in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, to negotiate a weapons transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based Islamic extremists.
Fox News reported that a State Department spokeswoman dismissed the speculation, insisting Stevens had been in Benghazi for diplomatic meetings and to attend the opening of a cultural center.
Last month, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., suggested to CNN that the U.S. State Department facility in Benghazi might have been an outpost for running guns from Libya to Syria.
“I never have quite understood the cover-up – if it was intentional or incompetence,” Sen. Paul explained to CNN. “But something went on. I mean, they had talking points that they were trying to make it about a movie when everybody seemed to be on the ground telling them it had nothing to do with a movie. I don’t know if this was for political reasons.”
Paul raised the issue of why Stevens, when he arrived in Libya in early 2011, was a liaison to Abdul Hakim Belhaj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, as well as the U.S. deputy chief of mission and a special representative to the National Transition Council.
“I’ve always suspected, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya, going through Turkey into Syria,” Paul told CNN.
By November 2011, Belhaj, then acting as the head of the Tripoli Military Council and a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, according to the London Telegraph, was holding meetings with officials from the rebel Free Syrian Army officials in Turkey about providing troops and arms to Syria to assist in the fight against the Assad government.
WND previously reported that Abdul Hakim Belhaj is the al-Qaida operative that Libyan expatriates claim was the principal organizer of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi.