As fires blazed and protesters danced in the ruined compound of a vanquished jihadist militia, I watched as the citizens of the Libyan city of Benghazi staged a dramatic display of raw people power.Numbed by the murder of an American ambassador in their city, furious with jihadist militias lording it over them and frustrated by a government too chaotic and intimidated to react, ordinary Benghazians took matters into their own hands.
Elsewhere in the world jihadists staged fiery attacks on foreign targets. In Libya they were sent running by people power. A rally called to Rescue Benghazi on Friday night became the launch pad for a spontaneous retaking of the streets, and more – a retaking of the soul that saw this city become the cradle of last year's Arab spring revolution.
Ansar al-Sharia militia, blamed by many for the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his diplomats had last week deployed anti-aircraft guns around their Benghazi compound, fearing attack from drones and US warships. But the attack, when it came, was from a very different direction. Civilian. Unarmed. And with nothing more than the desperation of a population staring anarchy in the face.Good for them, ordinary people and Muslims.
This will not be spoken of in American media again.