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A Benghazi power, Libya militia eyed in attack

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Posted: Sep 18, 2012 3:38 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: benghazi, libya, islam, militia, investigation, ambassador, attacks, protest, film

BENGHAZI, Libya - Members of a hardcore Islamist militia in Libya are the focus of much of the suspicion in last weeks' attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to that country and three other Americans.

The militia is known for its sympathies to al-Qaida, and its fierce animosity to the United States. And it's known for intimidating other Muslims who don't conform to its harsh ideology.

But despite the suspicion that the group's members were involved in the attack in Benghazi, Libyan authorities may not be moving against Ansar al-Shariah any time soon.

That's because it's one of the most powerful of the many heavily-armed militias that the government relies on to keep security in Benghazi. In fact, it guards one of the city's main hospitals.

The militias are a legacy of last year's civil war that led to the ouster and killing of Moammar Gadhafi. Their continued power underscores the weakness of the country's new political leadership.

The militias -- with a range of ideologies -- arose from local groups that took up arms against Gadhafi's forces. They still resist integration into the armed forces. And in many places, they are the sole forces keeping a fragile sense of order.

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