Benghazi Security Director Is Assassinated, Libyan Official Says – NYTimes.com

Security Chief in Benghazi Assassinated, Libyan Says

By KAREEM FAHIM Published: November 21, 2012

CAIRO — A senior Libyan security official was assassinated outside his home in the eastern city of Benghazi, officials said Wednesday, the same city where the United States ambassador and three other Americans were killed at their diplomatic compound in September. The Libyan official’s death was the latest in a series of mysterious killings that have raised fears about the country’s precarious postwar security.

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The official, Faraj Mohammed al-Drissi, who had held the post of Benghazi’s security director for only a few weeks, was fatally shot late Tuesday night as he was returning from work, said Wanis al-Sharif, a local Interior Ministry official.

Around 10 p.m., a Mitsubishi Lancer pulled up on Mr. Drissi’s street. Three men got out and opened fire, Mr. Sharif said, adding that the motive for the killing was unknown.

The killing was the latest blow for Benghazi, which has staggered since armed men attacked United States intelligence and diplomatic buildings in September, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff in an assault that upended the city’s fragile power structure. The attack led to a popular revolt against the militias that have held sway since the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last year, including hard-line Islamist groups, which have been criticized for being a law unto themselves.

It also led to closed hearings in the United States into how the Obama administration handled the attack, including questions by Republican and Democratic lawmakers about possible security lapses at the Benghazi compound.

Government officials loudly promised to assert the state’s control, while privately conceding that they were outgunned and incapable of fulfilling such a pledge. Militia leaders have rejected efforts by the government to rein them in, saying they would consider disbanding only if their leaders were given senior posts in the government.

The assassinations in Benghazi started last year and reflected the city’s factional fights. The first victims were former Qaddafi officials, usually from feared agencies under the Interior Ministry, whose bodies were found dumped on the outskirts of the city, bound and shot. The weak transitional government, bereft of a judicial system, has never prosecuted anyone for the attacks.

In recent months, the killings of former officials have continued, but increasingly, attacks have targeted the symbols of the fledgling state and its allies, including police officers and members of Benghazi’s diplomatic corps.

Officials promised to investigate the attack on the United States facilities, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and said they had drawn up a list of a suspects, including members of a well-known militia. But more than two months later, no one has been charged in the attack.

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