Libya security official resigns after US embassy attack

BENGHAZI, Libya- A Libyan official quit his job on Wednesday highlighting tensions in the security establishment after a deadly attack killed four Americans, including the ambassador, in Benghazi.
"There are problems at the ministry of interior and disputes between the security services," Fawzi Wanis al-Kadhafi, head of the supreme security committee in Benghazi, told AFP.

"Working conditions are not the same as before, so I decided to resign."
The supreme security committee, which falls under the interior ministry, was established by ex-rebels after the overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi last year in a bid to restore order.
His resignation comes a week after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed as the Benghazi consulate came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades.
Libya's interior minister on Monday announced the sacking of deputy interior minister for the eastern region, Wanis al-Sharef, and the head of national security for Benghazi, Hussein Bou Hmid.
On Wednesday, that decision came under fire in Benghazi with 30 high-ranking officers threatening to quit if it is not reversed.
"We categorically reject the decisions issued by the minister of interior, which were not thought out," they said in a joint statement read by the spokesman of Benghazi's security services, Al-Ezzedin Fazani.
"They do not serve the public interest," they added.
The officers, including 14 colonels, also requested the dismissal of interim Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali who they consider shoulders "primary responsibility" for the gaps in the security services.
The statement said the two security chiefs were used as a "scapegoat" for the deadly assault on the US consulate, stressing that the interior ministry made no contact with the security services when the attack took place.
"We tried to contact him many times in vain," said Fazani, adding that deputy minister Sharif, unlike his boss, had truly served the eastern city.
Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that toppled Kadhafi, is still prey to several loosely-organized militia groups with varying degrees of ties to the interim government.
The attack was originally blamed on protesters angered by an anti-Islam film made in America but neither US or Libyan officials have excluded the possibility that it was a pre-planned operation supported by Al-Qaeda.
In Washington, where President Barack Obama's election rival Mitt Romney has criticized the handling of the attack, there has been keen interest in whether the attackers were simply an angry mob or an organised gang.
On Wednesday, the director of the US government's National Counterterrorism Center told lawmakers that he was prepared to describe the killings as "a terrorist attack."
But the director, Matthew Olsen, immediately qualified that statement.
"The best information we have now, the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy," he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Thursday, September 20th 2012

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