Libya updateU.S. sends two guided missile destroyers, more drones, to Libya
The United States is increasing its military and intelligence presence in and around Libya – on the ground, in the air, and at sea; in addition to helping the Libyan authorities hunt down the members of the cell which attacked the consulate, the United States is increasing its surveillance of Islamic militants in eastern Libya, with the al Qaeda-linked Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades considered to be the main culprit behind the consulate attack, and behind Islamic terrorism in Libya more generally; drone strikes against militants in Libya, similar to the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, should be initiated sooner rather than later
Guided missile destroyer USS Laboon, currently enroute to Libya // Source: wikimedia.org
The United States is increasing its military presence in and around Libya – on the ground, in the air, and at sea. In addition to helping the Libyan authorities hunt down the members of the cell which attacked the consulate, the United States is increasing its surveillance of Islamic militants in eastern Libya, with the Al Qaeda-linked Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades being the main culprit behind the consulate attack, and behind Islamic terrorism in Libya more generally. The administration is sending more UAVs to the region to assist in the surveillance mission – U.S. intelligence-gathering UAVs have been loitering the skies over east Libya since March – and the number of CIA and Special Forces operatives on the ground in Libya is being increased as well.
The main developments:
- At least one person has been arrested in the killing Tuesday of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Libyan prime minister said Thursday. “Three or four are currently being pursued,” Mustafa Abushagur told CNN. He said the arrest was made early in the day in Benghazi and that the person arrested and those being sought are all Libyans.
- A U.S. intelligence official told CNN the intelligence community is developing a clearer picture as to what group or groups were responsible for the attack. U.S. intelligence officials believe it is very unlikely that core al Qaeda was behind the attack.
- State Department under secretary Patrick Kennedy, briefing congressional staffers Wednesday, said that the attack appeared planned because it was so extensive and because of the “proliferation” of small and medium weapons at the scene.
- The U.S. Navy is deploying two guided missile destroyers — USS Laboon and USS McFaul — off the coast of Libya, after attacks Tuesday on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.The destroyers are for “contingency purposes,” a military official told Fox News. In addition, a “fast team” of fifty Marines was being sent from the U.S. Naval base in Rota, Spain. They are expected to go to Tripoli. According to a U.S. official, there are no U.S. personnel left at the consulate in Benghazi which was attacked. A U.S. military aircraft is also expected to leave Libya soon with the dead and wounded onboard.
- The United States is also deploying surveillance drones in its hunt for the killers of the diplomatic staffers. The drones are expected to gather intelligence to be given to Libyan officials for strikes, officials told CNN. said.
- U.S. intelligence units have been operating UAVs over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya for a few months now, because of concerns about rising activity by al Qaeda and similar groups in the region.