Today in Terrorism: December 7, 2016 – Car bombings in Benghazi

On this day in 2016, unknown assailants carried out what is called “double-tap” bombings in Benghazi.

So-called ‘double tap’ attacks may be particularly heinous but they are an effective terrorist strategy.

For the longest time there were few world leaders more quixotic than former Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi. The once military officer took over Libya in 1969 and created a socialist republic known as Jamahiriyah. He had some interesting ideas on a lot of things, some of which were, to be charitable, bizarre: did you ever read his ‘Green Book’? I recall an editorial cartoon from the 1980s in which he was caricatured as Colonel ‘Gonedaffy’!

The Colonel is of course no longer with us, having been killed in an uprising spurred by the US and others in 2011 during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. His death, which could not have come too soon for many, has unfortunately led to a civil war in Libya, one in which terrorist groups have taken advantage of the chaos to commit their own brand of violent extremism.

2016 “double-tap” car bombings in Benghazi

One such act of terrorism occurred on this day in Benghazi in 2016 when unknown assailants carried out what is called a ‘double tap’ explosion. A first ‘massive’ explosion took place outside a special forces HQ and while rescuers were still at the scene a second explosion tore into the crowd 40 minutes later. Miraculously, no one died in the two blasts although 18 people were injured, some of them seriously, including troops, policemen, civilians and medical personnel.

If you are a terrorist this tactic, which has also been witnessed in Afghanistan, makes a lot of sense. You are able to kill or maim more innocent people since more individuals are present trying to help the victims of the first strike and are focused on saving lives, not looking out for more attacks.

Libya is a mess right now

This may seem heinous and it is indeed. Yet there are reports of the ‘good guys’ using similar means against terrorists in air and drone strikes. Initial strikes are followed by secondary ones once the first responders arrive on the scene. We may not be as purely innocent as we pretend to be.

Libya is a mess right now. The demise of Qadhafi did not bring about a better country. Militias, warlords and terrorists are all fighting each other in a bid for supremacy. The front-runner for now seems to be General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army although it is far too early to call a winner.

Terrorism is likely to continue to haunt Libya for the foreseeable future. Qadhafi may be gone but peace and stability have not taken his place.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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