Continued from page 2

The group is also attempting to generate support for Islamists in Gaza and Syria and has conducted demonstrations demanding the release of Libyan terrorists held in foreign prisons, including Iraq, Russia, and the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay.

A second military official who specializes in the region said militias of all types are rampant in Benghazi and Libya because of the weakness of the central government.

“The first problem is capacity: They have none,” he said of the central government in Tripoli. “They can’t even control events in the capital of Tripoli.”

Recently, there was a militia standoff at the Libyan Foreign Ministry with militiamen demanding the removal of officials linked to the ousted regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

“Until the Libyan government is able to stand up a reliable and independent security force of army and police, they will not be able to control Benghazi or anywhere else,” the official said.

Another problem hampering efforts to control militias is the great reluctance of the new Libyans in power to use force against other Libyans, unlike the Gaddafi regime, which cracked down ruthlessly on opponents.

“There is an incredible reluctance on the part of the Libyan government to put themselves in the position where they might draw the blood of Libyan citizens,” the official said. “Nobody in the new government wants to be seen playing the same role as Gaddafi.”

Among the various militias currently operating are the Islamist militias, several rogue militias, and even criminal militias. Some of the militias are pro-government and working with Tripoli.

The official said the pro-government militias are weak or not strong enough or willing enough to impose stability.

The Benghazi attack continues to be the focus of attention on Capitol Hill after a State Department review panel made public in December it found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department.”

The Obama administration has sought to play down the deadly attack, initially identifying the attack as a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Islam video. White House spokesman Jay Carney said May 1, “Benghazi happened a long time ago.”