Country Report on Terrorism 2012 - Chapter 2 - Libya

Libya. In 2012, Libyan internal security suffered significant challenges and setbacks as it sought to reassert central authority following the fall of the Qadhafi regime, though attempts were made to strengthen overall counterterrorism and border capabilities to mitigate the various threats. The resulting instability was punctuated by the attack against a U.S. facility in Benghazi on September 11, which claimed the lives of four U.S. personnel, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. The Libyan government had serious difficulty in asserting control over portions of the country and adequately manning border posts, particularly in the east and south, resulting in significant levels of known terrorist transit through the country. The Libyan government attempted to assert firmer control over specific areas of the country, and in December declared broad portions of southern Libya a military zone, resulting in border closings across a number of crossing points.

Libya has encountered significant capacity gaps to mitigate the illicit flows of goods, people, and weapons across its borders since the revolution that toppled Qadhafi. While secured at year’s end, Libya also maintains stockpiles of declared chemical weapons materials that could prove a proliferation risk given weakened border security. The United States has offered to assist the Libyan authorities with the security and eventual destruction of their chemical weapons stockpiles, in accordance with their obligations as members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The proliferation of loose weapons from Libya across the country’s borders was very concerning. The EU contributed significant border security assistance to the Libyan authorities, and throughout 2012, the United States worked with the Government of Libya to develop a complementary border security assistance package of its own. A delegation of Libyan officials from the Ministry of Defense and Customs Authority visited the United States in mid-September 2012, and expressed deep interest in both U.S. border security best practices and border security technology. They specifically requested U.S. assistance on border security, particularly in the South. Nevertheless, implementation of these programs has been slow, and the Libyan authorities lack the basic training and equipment necessary to monitor their vast land and maritime borders, and to control the flow of people and goods through their airports. Violent extremists continued to exploit these weaknesses, and threatened to destabilize the Middle East and North Africa region.