Sufyan Ben Qumu, the alleged mastermind behind an attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi last September, narrowly avoided an assassination attempt on Sunday. However, conflicting reports have been filed by U.S. and Libyan news agencies regarding the story’s details.
According to the Libya Herald, a colleague was shot and wounded who happened to be driving Qumu’s car near the eastern city of Darna. However, the Associated Press reports that Qumu himself was shot and taken to a nearby hospital’s intensive care unit.
The timing of the attempt, assuming Qumu was the target, is interesting nonetheless given that another member of Qumu’s outfit was assassinated in Sirte just five days ago.
Qumu, reportedly once Osama bin Laden's driver, fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan during the 1980s and later fought alongside the Taliban against coalition forces. He was detained at Guantanamo for six years until released to the Gaddafi government in 2007 on the condition he be kept in prison.
Yet in 2010 he was released as part of an amnesty deal which sprung 35 other militants who supposedly “converted” from radical militancy. Qumu went on to become a leader of the rebel forces that toppled Gaddafi in 2011 and was one of the founders of Ansar Al-Sharia, an Islamist militia group that wants to implement a strict form of Sharia law across Libya.
On September 11, 2012 Qumu helped lead the aforementioned attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed Stevens and three other Americans. After an investigation an independent panel in the U.S. issued a report condemning the State Department for failing to show leadership which led to an inadequate security posture.