Al Qaeda Leader Zawahiri: Benghazi Attack Signifies American Weakness

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Following quickly on the heels of the U.S. presidential election, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri proclaimed that the terror attack against the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghaz indicates that American “awe is lost” in the region. In an audio message addressed to the Somali jihadist group, al-Shabaab, Zawahiri said American influence in the region is floundering due to weakness.

“They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sanaa (Yemen),” a translation the militant’s message reads in the Long War Journal.

“Their awe is lost and their might is gone and they don’t dare to carry out a new campaign like their past ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Al Qaeda is, of course, along with other militant groups, are still sweeping the Maghreb — in particular, Libya. On Tuesday turmoil reached a fever pitch in Benghazi after a car bomb exploded near a police station late in the day, a police officer told AFP. He added that two of his colleagues were injured in a subsequent gunfight with the primary suspect. The vehicle reportedly belonged to a law enforcement officer and it was believed to have been ignited by a hand grenade or fishing explosives.

“One of them is in a critical condition and the other was hit on his foot,” said the police officer, adding that the suspect had escaped.

The country’s newly elected authorities are attempting to empower the national army and police but are losing control of militias that sprung from the 2011 uprising against Libya’s longtime dictator, Muammar Gadhafi.

AFP adds more on the wave of assassinations ravaging the country:

The city has also witnessed a wave of assassinations, targeting officials with links to the former regime, which are often blamed on hardline Islamists.

On Tuesday, also in Benghazi, the bullet ridden corpse of retired colonel Abdul Karim Mahfud, who backed the 2011 revolution, was found in his farm.

Libya held its first elections in July but the new government officials are struggling with how best to provide security in the volatile area.