US designates Ansar al-Sharia as terror group

The Obama administration on Friday named three Ansar al-Sharia groups as terrorist organizations and said two of them had carried out the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The State Department said it designated three branches of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi; Darnah, Libya, and Tunisia as terrorist organizations.


In the designation, the State Department said both the Benghazi and Darnah Ansar al-Sharia groups were involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

State also designated leaders of the groups — including former Guantánamo detainee Abu Sufian bin Qumu, head of the Darnah branch — as terrorists.

The U.S. previously has filed charges in the Benghazi attack against Ahmed Khattalah, the head of the Benghazi Ansar al-Sharia branch, who was also designated a terrorist by the State Department Friday.

Khattalah has not been arrested, however, even as he has remained in the public eye and granted interviews, which has drawn criticism from Republicans.

Khattalah denies involvement, though he acknowledges he was at the U.S. facility in Benghazi the night of the attacks.

The State Department said it was now offering $10 million for information that could lead to the arrest or conviction of anyone responsible for the Benghazi attack.

“We remain committed to working with the Libyan government to bring the perpetrators of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks to justice,” the department said in a statement.

The terrorist designations will allow the U.S. to freeze “all property and interests in property of the organization and individuals that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons.”

The Tunisian Ansar al-Sharia branch was involved in the Sept. 14, 2012, attack on the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis.