On Aug. 20, Ansar al Sharia in Libya released a statement that criticized the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt for participating in the democratic process, and for failing to implement sharia, or Islamic law. The statement, which was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, is very similar to criticisms leveled by al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, and by Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
Ansar al Sharia in Libya says that the Muslim Brotherhood was wrong for using the democratic process to attempt to gain power, and that it failed to implement sharia once it won the election. The group then criticizes the leadership of the Brotherhood for not recognizing its own errors. Below is an excerpt from the statement:
What did you gain from entering the game of democracy under the pretext of implementing the Shariah, even though that way and that excuse are not correct? After the concessions that you presented to the West and America to reach power, here you got it and yet you didn’t implement the Shariah as you said you would. With this disbelieving secular democracy, the international regime on which you depended let you down and you ended up in the whirlpool alone. Thus, is there any reasoning and awareness that the path you took is false and it is not a way to implement the Shariah if you really meant to do so? Here are your leaders in prisons and their homes being stormed, and you are afflicted with humiliation that will never be lifted until you return to your pure religion and leave the way of democracy.
The peoples were dragged behind you and they were deceived. Today, many people are being killed in Egypt in order to bring back your legitimacy that was brought down, and we don’t find anyone from among you coming out and showing these peoples the falsehood in which you were and that you learned from your experience, and to call on these peoples to implement the Shariah and not the lost legitimacy to which you arrived through democracy …
Ansar al Sharia in Libya then urges Muslims worldwide, and the people of Syria [the Levant], which it describes as “the land of jihad and epics, in particular, whose jihad is still continuing against all the forces of falsehood,” to:
…not to be dragged behind the maimed calls of reform that concede to the global system and the West, and not to take democracy as a way of reform.
Ansar al Sharia in Libya stops short of openly calling for Muslims worldwide to wage jihad against the local governments and the West, but with its reference to the Syrian jihad, the meaning is clear.
Ansar al Sharia in Libya has admitted its involvement in the assault on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 in which the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed. In December 2012, Egypt arrested Muhammad Jamal al Kashef, a main suspect in the Benghazi consulate assault. Al Kashef has direct, longstanding connections to al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. He has similar connections to Zawahiri’s younger brother Mohammed and to other jihadist leaders, including the head of Ansar al Sharia Egypt, who were involved in protests outside the US Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, 2012.