Group behind Benghazi attack dissolves

Ansar al-Sharia, accused by Washington of 2012 attack on consulate in Benghazi, announces its dissolution.

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Ben Ariel,

Aftermath of 2012 attack on US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya
Aftermath of 2012 attack on US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya
Reuters

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is accused by Washington of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday and quoted by AFP.

Ansar al-Sharia is affiliated with Al-Qaeda and has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the UN.

It is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014 and later declared authority over the coastal city of Darna.

East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi.

In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting, according to AFP.

One of the leaders of the group, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has been charged in the United States with crimes related to the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Khattala, who was captured in 2014 by special American forces, has previously denied any connection to the Benghazi attack and has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges.

Most of Ansar al-Sharia members have defected to the Islamic State (ISIS) group, noted AFP. Ansar al-Sharia has become a member of the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias.