DUBAI: Al Qaeda said the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in Libya was in revenge for the killing of the network’s number two Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi, the SITE Intelligence Group reported on Saturday.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also called for more violent demonstrations against US embassies in the Middle East and Africa.
“The killing of Sheikh Abu Yahya only increased the enthusiasm and determination of the sons of (Libyan independence hero) Omar al-Mukhtar to take revenge upon those who attack our Prophet,” AQAP said in a statement, quoted by the US-based monitoring group.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based offshoot did not claim direct responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.
But it stressed that “the uprising of our people in Libya, Egypt and Yemen against America and its embassies is a sign to notify the United States that its war is not directed against groups and organisations… but against the Islamic nation that has rebelled against injustice.”
The statement comes four days after Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri issued a video eulogising Libi, his late deputy and propaganda chief who was killed in a drone strike in June.
Mohammed al-Megaryef, the head of Libya’s national assembly, said on Saturday that the attack on the US consulate was planned and “meticulously executed.”
In an interview with AFP, Megaryef, president of the General National Congress, also said “non-Libyan elements” could have been involved in the attack.
Tuesday’s attack by armed men in the eastern city came amid a wave of protests in the Muslim world against a US-made amateur Internet film deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
Suspected militants fired on the consulate with rocket-propelled grenades and set it ablaze on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States claimed by al Qaeda.
A senior US official said that extremists appeared to have used the demonstration against the film denigrating Islam as a “pretext” to attack American interests on the anniversary.
In a separate statement posted online, AQAP called for the continuation of violent protests against US missions in response to the film and also urged Muslims in the West to attack US interests.
“May the expulsion of embassies and consulates lead to the liberation of Arab lands from the American hegemony and the arrogance,” said the statement.
The al Qaeda offshoot also said it was a “duty” for Muslims based in the West to attack American interests because they are “more capable of doing damage” and are closer to those interests.
AQAP was founded in January 2009 when the Saudi and Yemen branches of al Qaeda merged. It is led by Nasser al-Wahishi, who affirmed his allegiance to Zawahiri in July 2011 following Osama bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan by US special forces.