BENGHAZI, Libya -- Two months after the American ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in assaults on U.S. facilities here, there have been no arrests of suspected attackers, and Libyan officials say it is unlikely any will be made anytime soon.
Libyan officials here and in the countrys capital, Tripoli, said the nations police and court systems are so disorganized and powerless that there is virtually no investigation into the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate here that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Stevens dead. Two CIA security contractors, ex-Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, died in a separate attack hours later at the CIA station in this city.
Officials in Benghazi said that the first problem with pursuing those responsible for the attacks is that police officers here are afraid to move against the Islamist extremist suspects, who, like many in this country, are members of militias that are better armed than state security forces.
And that is just the beginning. Officials say its uncertain who is in charge of investigating the case and who has the authority to issue arrest warrants, should it come to that. Even if charges were to be brought, there is no proper court system for prosecuting anyone.
In Benghazi, the deputy interior minister said the prosecutor is in charge. The head of the Supreme Security Council, which has responsibility for organizing an army, believes the police are in charge. The prosecutor said he has no idea who is in charge. Some brigades created during last years uprising and used to filling the security void here dont recognize the Tripoli authorities as in charge of matters in Benghazi.
Last week, Libyan officials had to name a new prosecutor and judge and moved the case from Benghazi to Tripoli, reportedly because the judge in Benghazi had no means to investigate the case.
The official described as the Libyan liaison to the FBI for the case said the investigation essentially is just beginning.
We are not at the point of arresting, we are correcting procedures, said Col. Abdel Salem Ashour of the Interior Ministrys criminal investigations department.
Ashour said that the Libyans are looking for roughly 70 people who were involved in the attack, but that images of the potential suspects captured by consulate security cameras and delivered to the Libyan government last week by the United States are blurry.
The description of the investigation given by Libyan officials is far different from the promise President Barack Obama made during an Oct. 16 presidential debate to hunt down the attackers.
Security officials said they fear arrests in this case could lead to more violence. The few people whove been detained in connection with the case were either witnesses or looters, Ashour said. Security officials here call those kinds of arrests easier, as they are people who likely dont have an armed group behind them.
Its no secret that most institutions here are in a weak position. There are many competing factors of security. It makes it difficult, said Ahmed Langhi, who represents Benghazi in Libyas national legislature, the General National Congress. The case will not be solved until this security problem is solved. The legal system needs power to implement orders.