HUFFINGTON POST
12/30/2013 07:39 am ET Updated Mar 01, 2014

Saifallah Benahssine, Tunisian Leader Of Ansar Al Sharia, Captured By U.S. And Libyan Forces

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TUNIS, Dec 30 (Reuters) - 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 as 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. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)