Politicians urge for greater support of the Libyan National Army
Libyan forces praised for capture of Al-Qaeda fugitive
Anti-Islamist and Libyan political figures have urged for greater support to be given to the country’s most powerful force after it captured a former Egyptian special forces solider turned Al-Qaeda militant in the eastern city of Derna.
The Libyan National Army detained Hisham Ashmawi, who is accused of several deadly attacks in Egypt, on Monday and is one of the most wanted fugitives in his old country. He was found alongside the wife and sons of an extremist preacher who was the mufti of the Al-Qaeda-linked group known as the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna, which held the city until being ousted by the LNA a couple of months ago.
Remnants of its forces continue to hide in parts of Derna. It has close ties with a similar extremist group in Benghazi, which was pushed from Libya’s second city by the LNA last year.
“Once again, the arrest of Ashmawi confirms the relevance of the fight that the LNA has unabatedly been conducting against Benghazi and Derna,” said Mohamed Dayri, the previous foreign minister.
“We call on the international community to adequately support the LNA alongside the national and democratic forces which aspire to combat terrorism and to lead Libya to rebuilding state institutions and democracy respected by all,” he added.
Some Libyan political figures, including those friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood, have lambasted the LNA for attacking Derna and voiced support for its, often extremist, opponents.
“It is of critical importance that those who have colluded with and vouched support for extremists in Derna and Benghazi are not included in Libya’s political process in the future,” said Mr Dayri.
One of Libya’s presidential candidates, Dr Aref Nayed, who has also served as ambassador to the UAE accused the extremist groups in Derna of receiving support from the military wings of political Islam organisations. He rubbished claims such groups were “moderate.”