Egyptian authorities have detained a man named Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad with United States assistance after he petitioned al-Qaeda to create a new branch in Egypt, and allegedly helped lead the September 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans.
According to Fox News, counterterrorism experts say Ahmad could be one of the biggest terrorist threats to emerge in the wake of the "Arab Spring." He was one of the many prisoners released from various Egyptian jails when former leader Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, and immediately went to work assembling his own terrorist network in Egypt and neighboring Libya.
Officials believe he was receiving funding from al-Qaeda in Yemen, and the Wall Street Journal notes that the Benghazi attack would give Ahmad a "major boost...in their eyes."
The United States has not yet had access to Ahmad, according to reports, and it is unclear how he was captured.
Fox News adds:
Ahmad's capture is "strategically important" to the U.S., said Seth Jones, an al Qaeda specialist with the Rand Corp. think tank, because his network's alleged involvement in the Benghazi attacks showed his reach extended beyond Egypt, and more broadly into North Africa. His petitioning to become a new Al Qaeda branch suggested more international aspirations, U.S. officials said.
Ahmad's terrorist aspirations closer to home appear to have put him in Egyptian authorities' sights.