The U.S. Department of State announced on Thursday that three Ansar al-Shari'a organizations and their leaders have been officially designated terrorists.
Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah, and Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia were designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and their leadership as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The designations, authorized under Executive Order 13224, target terrorists and supporters of terrorists or terrorist acts.
The State Department described the terrorist acts committed by the three organizations, identifying Ansar al-Shari'a as responsible for the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate and U.S. Annex in Benghazi and the September 14, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.
Created separately after the fall of the Qadhafi regime, Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah have been involved in terrorist attacks against civilian targets, frequent assassinations, and attempted assassinations of security officials and political actors in eastern Libya, and the September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya. Members of both organizations continue to pose a threat to U.S. interests in Libya.Ahmed Abu Khattalah is a senior leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Benghazi and Sufian bin Qumu is the leader of Ansar al-Shari’a in Darnah.
Founded by Seifallah Ben Hassine in early 2011, Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia was involved in the September 14, 2012 attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, which put the lives of over one hundred United States employees in the Embassy at risk. The Tunisian government has declared Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia a terrorist organization, and the group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Ansar al-Shari’a in Tunisia, which is ideologically aligned with al-Qa’ida and tied to its affiliates, including AQIM, represents the greatest threat to U.S. interests in Tunisia.
The U.S. Government is committed to taking all appropriate actions against the organizations and individuals responsible for the attacks against the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya and Tunisia. We remain committed to working with the Libyan government to bring the perpetrators of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks to justice and to ensure the safety of our personnel serving overseas. Likewise, we continue to urge the Tunisian government to bring to justice those responsible for the September 14, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.
In addition to the new designation, the State Department noted that a $10 million reward is being offered "for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual responsible for the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks."