The fledgling Libyan government has been struggling to get armed militias and violent religious hardliners under control for months, but has largely failed.
Whether the incident that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens stemmed from protests over a film denigrating the prophet Muhammad turned into rocket-fire or was a pre-planned attack disguised by the protests remains unclear. But the attack points to underlying problems: While post-Qaddafi Libya works to build a new state, authorities are struggling to manage militias, weapons, and a surge in violent Islamism.
Tripoli’s weakness was laid bare last month when interior minister Fawzi Abdel-Aal said the government would not risk a fight with ultraconservative Salafi Muslims who methodically bulldozed a Tripoli mosque whose graves and Sufi shrines they called blasphemous.
That incident, and others like it, show a growing pattern of armed groups flouting the government, says John Hamilton, a director at Cross-Border Information, a British risk assessment firm. “This pattern needs to be addressed instantly.
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