Ideas. Action. Impact. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy The Washington Institute: Improving the Quality of U.S. Middle East Policy

Other Pages

Policy Analysis

Articles & Op-Eds

Islamism in Libya

Aaron Y. Zelin

Also available in العربية

American Foreign Policy Council

April 2013

The following excerpt is from the 2013 edition of the World Almanac of Islamism, a comprehensive anthology on the state of radical Islam in countries worldwide. Download the PDF to read the Libya chapter, or visit the AFPC website to access the full series.

The tragic death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel during the September 2012 attack in Benghazi was the most prominent episode of growing Islamist violence in Libya since Qadhafi's ouster. Small contingents of local jihadists and alleged al-Qaeda elements have come to the fore since the start of the country's "Arab Spring" ferment in 2011.

The citizen backlash against the attack, which led to the overrunning of a series of militia bases belonging to various jihadist groups, has provided hope for an end to the recent violence. Yet some of these groups will likely continue to challenge the newly elected Libyan government. In particular, Katibat Ansar al-Sharia, which has attempted to burnish its local credentials through social services since the consulate attacks, is poised to grow in popularity given the disconnect between locals and the national government...