Britain's SAS in Libya: What happened there?

The confusion surrounding the detention and then release of several British nationals – including members of the Special Air Service – in Libya has generated as much interest as the incident itself. However, little information is available on why a group of British men arrived unauthorized and unannounced in Libya. Below is an overview of what can be confirmed about the incident.

What is the SAS?

Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
The British Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland arrives in Valletta's Grand Harbour onMarch 7. Twenty nine evacuees from Benghazi in Libya were onboard. A British Ministry of Defence official on site would not confirm nor deny that eight Special Air Service (SAS) commandos who had been detained then released while on a covert mission in Libya were on board, as reported in many sections of the media.

The SAS (Special Air Services) is an elite British special forces unit originally formed during World War II. It began as a desert force in North Africa and is now responsible for high-level, typically covert operations such as reconnaissance and raids. Though very little is known about its work, it is compared to the US Army’s Delta Force.

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