Abou Iyadh, also known as Saifallah Benahssine, was reportedly arrested in Libya. He is wanted by the authorities in Tunisia., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
REUTERS December 30, 2013, 7: 35 AM
Tunisia militant leader Saifallah Benahssine arrested in Libya, local media says
Last Updated Dec 30, 2013 8:38 AM EST
TUNIS -- U.S. and Libyan forces captured Saifallah Benahssine, the leader of Tunisia's Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia, in the Libyan city of Misrata on Monday, Tunisia's state news agency TAP said, citing a security source.
The U.S. embassy in Libya and Libyan government officials did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the arrest of Benahssine, also known as Abu Iyadh.
But the capture of such a high-ranking Tunisian Islamist militant in Libya would indicate close ties among Islamist groups across North Africa. In October, U.S. forces captured a top al Qaeda suspect in a raid in Tripoli.
A former fighter in Afghanistan, Benahssine had declared loyalty to al Qaeda and was accused of inciting an attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in September 2012.
Ansar al-Sharia was one of the hardline groups to emerge after the Tunisia's revolt against its autocratic leader three years ago. Militant violence has increased in Tunisia since the government began a crackdown on the group this year.