The crippling breach in Bengahzi’s security was felt once again when a car bomb exploded near Jalaa Hospital on May 13, claiming three lives in a catastrophic scene in a city where police centers are frequently under attack and where military and police officers are assassinated with no subsequent justice served.

The crippling breach in Bengahzi’s security was felt once again when a car bomb exploded near Jalaa Hospital on May 13, claiming three lives in a catastrophic scene in a city where police centers are frequently under attack and where military and police officers are assassinated with no subsequent justice served.

Unlike previous incidents, the Jalaa Hospital explosion has gained great official and popular attention, when protesters in Tripoli took to the streets in solidarity with Benghazi.  Most local councils issued statements denouncing and condemning the tragedy and public and private satellite channels fixed black bars on their logos to mourn the fallen.

In response, the General National Congress (GNC) suspended its sessions to enable its members to participate in the funeral and later on issued Resolution No. 47 to form a joint security committee headed by a high-ranking officer from the Libyan General Staff with a membership of officers from the Interior Ministry, the General Intelligence Service, the Armored Corps, the Preventive Security, the army and the police.

According to the resolution, the committee will enhance the security of Benghazi and its suburbs, in cooperation with the security agencies concerned.

Radical movements

Editor-in-chief of Brnieq newspaper Muftah Bouzid said the incident was similar to Iraq’s bombings, but was exaggerated.

Based on the official statement of the General Staff, Bouzid explained that the incident was not a terrorist attack, but an accidental explosion of a car carrying explosive materials while passing near the hospital. He did not rule out the probability that the car had been meant to explode in another place, especially after “arresting a person of Mauritanian origin, who was trying to blow up a car on the same day.”

Bouzid attributed the deteriorating security in the city to the growing phenomenon of radical Islamic movements, which do not believe in a state of institutions and law and deem those dealing with it as godless. “The eastern region, especially Benghazi and Dernah, have suffered a great deal of tyranny by security services under Gaddafi; therefore, these groups do not wait until justice is achieved through courts; rather, they apply the law themselves through directly targeting their opponents. Thus, all assassinations of the two cities are made against security and armed forces,” he added.

Ink on paper

‘The Joint Security Force’ and ‘The Security-Proclaiming Plan’ refer to security formations and schemes developed to secure the city and put an end to the assassinations of former security and army officers, but no achievements have been made, which puts a question mark on the efficiency of the joint security committee, or, according to Bouzid, any other previously formed security forces and committees that have not been accounted for their actions.

Bouzid attributed the failure of the previous security schemes to the absence of activation tools without which plans become “mere ink on paper.”

Accidental or intentional?

The failure of previous official security schemes prompted some angry people on the eve of the explosion to call for the rebels’ intervention to protect the city, which is reminiscent of the second anniversary of the revolution when gunmen took to streets and got rewards, but official bodies denied their relevance.

Head of Libyan Anti-Corruption Commission Dr. Mohamed Boqaiqis believes that such calls are “abusing the revolution that has accomplished its role before the GNC elections on the 7th of last July.”

“We are at a civil phase and the role of rebels is to protect and monitor the revolution remotely whereas official bodies and GNC run state affairs while the police and the army protect Benghazi,” he explained.

Boqaiqis rejected the official narrative of an accidental and unintended car explosion and founded it unusual not to link this incident to previous bombings of different police stations and the Criminal Investigation headquarters in Benghazi during the same week. “If this bombing was accidental, were last week’s five bombings accidental or intentional?” he wondered.

Hazy situation

While the cause of the Jalaa explosion was revealed early, earlier assassinations and bombings have been surrounded by ambiguity, which made the situation “hazy and opened the door for speculation,” according to Boqaiqis.

“Some say the Muslim Brotherhood was behind it, some say the Islamic movements, while others believe it is the government, but the beneficiaries of insecurity, instability and failure of the revolution are the ones behind these bombings,” said Boqaiqis, stressing that “Benghazi and the eastern region are targeted because they sparked the revolution, which is now endangered by security breaches affecting public and private opinion and turning the country into an unstable one at security, social and political levels.”

Save Benghazi

Political analyst Anas Faitouri believes that the city’s security situation has stumbled after ‘Save Benghazi’ Friday on September 21 “upon targeting brigades which had a significant role in the revolution and in securing the city, such as Raffallah Sehati brigade which protected GNC ballot boxes on July 7.”

“True, security forces were not institutionalized, but there was a certain level of security that has been deteriorating since ‘Save Benghazi Friday,’” Faitouri explained.

He linked the country’s political conflicts with the bombings, saying, “Upon passing the Political Isolation Law, police stations were bombed at night, not to cause casualties, but to send political messages.”

“Benghazi has its own unique political condition where the security aspect cannot be separated from the political one. Some bodies seek to exclude the rebels from the political scene, resolve all brigades and return the same police establishments that existed under Gaddafi. This political conflict in Benghazi has negatively impacted its security situation,” he added.

The opinions of Faitouri and other analysts remain within the framework of speculation without the endorsement of official bodies, identification and prosecution of perpetrators or at least the submission of supporting evidence that the bombing was premeditated.