In testimony before the US Senate on September 19th, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen described the September 12th assault on the US Consulate as a “terrorist attack.” Although it remains to be seen if the Libyan Ansar al-Sharia (aka Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi aka ASB) is responsible, Abu Sufian bin Qumu, has been cited as the leader of the organization by several outlets and analysts.
Beyond his Guantanamo file, we see that Bin Qumu is a familiar fighter — from the Libyan Army in the 80′s to Afghanistan and Sudan in the 90′s, back to Libya, to Afghanistan, and finally back to eastern Libya. Looking at this more recent history, particularly after the release from Guantanamo Bay, bin Qumu has been the focus of periodic press attention for his role as a returned fighter.
In April 2011, the New York Times reported that bin Qumu had been fighting to overthrow Qaddafi, ostensibly with American support. A little over a year later, in a June 2012 profile, the paper describes his leadership of a militia in eastern Libya as an alternative vision for the country.
The network of people, places, and organizations surrounding bin Qumu narrows the universe of known players and provides an overview of what is reported about his connections:
The network map is a clear visualization of bin Qumu’s story, from foreign Taliban fighter in Afghanistan to Guantanamo detainee to returned rebel in a tumultuous takedown of Gaddhafi to a militia leader with mysterious allegiances, and now, potential opportunistic terrorist.
Aliases and various spellings abound for Abu Sufian bin Qumu: Abu Suffiyan, Abu Sufian bin Qumu, Sofiane Ibrahim Gammu, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Hamuda bin Qumu. Recorded Future’s watchlist capability enables an analyst to quickly assemble and maintain a searchable list of aliases:
It is as yet unclear to what at extent — if at all — bin Qumu is involved with the attack, but in the coming days, he will continue to garner attention. With the open source corpus outlining his travels, statements, and actions, an analyst can quickly assemble a history, profile, and alias list to recognize novel information and to place into the context of extant knowledge.