The Palestinian militant group of Hamas was the beneficiary of several shipments of weapons and ammunition delivered directly by Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia, a Libya Times investigation has revealed.
Although it is no secret that Hamas had in the past used its financial resource to acquire weapons looted from Gaddafi’s arsenal, something that has been reported in the Israeli press as early as October 2011, just two months after the fall of Tripoli. These included guided anti-tank missiles, MANPAD’s and SA-7 missiles.
However, photos obtained by this website have shown members of Benghazi’s Ansar al-Sharia posing for the camera with Hamas militants to celebrate a successful delivery of arms shipment. The photos were posted on Facebook by someone from Benghazi believed to have had direct knowledge of the deliveries.
One of the photos (below) was posted with the following text in Arabic: “Many people mock [us] when we say that the war against the rebels under the pretext of terrorism is a war against Islam. This photo predates [Operation] Dignity showing a delegation from Benghazi revolutionaries in Ghaza. With Allah’s help, we delivered weapons to our brothers in Ghaza. The war that is being launched by the agent Hifter is nothing but a proxy war. May Allah accept Hujain al-Medhdawi, the martyr of Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council”.
Mehdawi, who appears in the picture with a group of Hamas militants, is a member of Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). He was killed in July 2016 by a French airstrike against a convoy near Ajdabiya belonging to the Jihadi militia known as Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB).
The photos below were taken during BDB’s failed offensive against Benghazi showing Hujain Mehdawi with al-Saadi al-Nawfaly, BDB’s military commander whose house was targeted by a US strike in June 2015.
Online chats seen by this website showed members of Ansar al-Sharia confessing that the weapons were delivered through tunnels operated by rings of smugglers based in Sinai.
The photo below is from May 2013 showing Mr Mehdawi with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s political leader. It was taken during a solidarity visit to Ghaza by Muslim Brotherhood activists from the Arab Spring countries called 'Freedom Spring convoy’.
In November 2017, the office of Libya’s Attorney General accused 16 people of smuggling weapons from Tripoli to Hamas in Ghaza. Four members of the group which became known as ‘the Hamas cell’ were arrested by Tripoli’s Special Deterrence Force. It is believed that they were on a procurement mission to purchase missiles from the black market.
Generous payments by Hamas operatives have encouraged the establishment of secret networks of arms smugglers operating across Libya. The weapons are then smuggled through thriving corridors to Egypt or north Sudan. Over the last few years, the Egyptian air force conducted several airstrikes against convoys of arms smugglers crossing the Libyan border to Egypt.
Libyan smugglers are not the only ones to be lured by Hamas’ money. A French citizen named Roman Franck, who works as a driver for his country’s consulate in Israel, was arrested by Israel's Shin Bet last month for using the consulate’s car to smuggle weapons to Hamas.
Ansar al-Sharia branch in Benghazi - which was dissolved in May 2017 - published the photos below in 2013 showing its members delivering cash handouts to families in Gaza. The caption reads: “The campaign of the convoy of goodness 4 to support our people in Ghaza the wounded: distribution of money to support the needy families whose homes were damaged by the Zionist airstrikes”.
The photo below is a Facebook post featuring Ansar al-Sharia’s emir, Ahmed Abu Khattala, standing under an olive tree with Arabic text which reads: “Ahmed Abu Khattalah: Ask Palestine about him and not just Libya”. The post seems to imply that the picture was taken in Ghaza.