A Tunisian court on Jan. 7 unconditionally released the only suspect held in custody over the deadly attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Ali Harzi, was ordered freed for lack of evidence, but must remain in the greater Tunis area pending further investigations. Harzi had been detained in Turkey and deported to Tunisia, where he had been held for months. The FBI was first granted access to Harzi for questioning in December. Shortly after the FBI interviewed Harzi for three hours, the Tunisian wing of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia released pictures of the three investigating FBI agents online.
Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia is headed by Seifullah ben Hassine AKA Abu Iyad al-Tunisi, formerly of the Tunisian Combatant Group (TCG). Hassine was arrested in Turkey in 2003 and deported to Tunisia, where he was sentenced to more than 40 years in prison. He was released from prison in 2011, in the wake of the Tunisian revolution. The Yemeni wing of Ansar al-Sharia is led by Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who also heads al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Al Jazeera, Long War Jounral, Jan. 8; Long War Journal, Oct. 2)